Zack Greinke not excited about Down Under Trip

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Zack Greinke is not exactly enthusiastic about pitching down under this coming March.

“I would say there is absolutely zero excitement for it,” Greinke told ESPNLA.com. “There just isn’t any excitement to it. I can’t think of one reason to be excited for it.”

With the team already focused on shortening Clayton Kershaw’s workload, now they must also focus on lightening up the load for Greinke. He is their number two starting pitcher, and the season beginning early could throw off his rhythm slightly.

The Australian games are to be played on March 22 and 23, and the Dodgers leave camp approximately a week early from the Camelback Ranch facility.

Greinke is not stubborn enough to rule out the possibility that he’ll play in the two games, “it’s a baseball thing. It’s an ownership thing, spreading stuff around.”

With Kershaw pitchng 259 innings last season including the playoff, the team can’t afford to burn out their number starter either. Which leaves the opportunity for starters Dan Haren, Hyun Jin Ryu and whoever the Dodgers select as their fifth starter to showcase their work.

With the new schedule the Dodgers now play approximately 15 less games in the Spring, which allows 2 starts less for pitchers to fine tune and get ready for the coming season.

Zack has this endearing, contrarian quality to him that we all know and love about him,” Dodgers president Stan Kasten told ESPN.com. “He’s famously focused and meticulous about his training regimen. It’s what makes him so good and such a great teammate. This is clearly going to alter his routine. I understand that aspect of it.”

 

Yasiel Puig reaches out to his LA fans

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During the 2014 Dodgers Fan Fest at Dodger Stadium, Yasiel Puig addressed some off the field issues with SportNetLA host Alanna Rizzo.

Rizzo interpreted for Puig, when she asked him about the latest speeding and reckless driving charge in Florida, that was recently dropped.

Nada“, Puig joked in front of the crowd. “I was driving fast. It was my fault. I’m not ever going to drive fast. Or slow. I now have a driver. I want to apologize to the city of Los Angeles and to these fans. I’m done with speeding.

This was the second incident that involved reckless driving, where he was cited for driving 110 mph in a 70 mph zone. The first incident happened when he was a member of the AA Chattanooga Lookouts, when he drove approximately 97 mph in a 50 mph zone.

Puig continues to mature and grow as a player on and off the field, and as the Dodgers have been patient with him, so do many of the fans and society. The culture is new to him, and the 23 year old has taken a step in the right direction by hiring his cousin to drive him around.

Puig has been visual this off season, whether it’s been working out with teammate, pitcher Hyun Jin Ryu, or assisting kids around the Los Angeles area with baseball clinics.

Puig finished second in the rookie of the year voting behind Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins. He hit .319 with 19 home runs last season.

He was the boost of energy the Dodgers needed last season, and the team hopes he can continue to be that on and off the field.

Puig is loved by fans, and as he exited the stage, threw his hat into the crowd as fans scrambled to capture it.

 

2014 belongs to ‘BeastMode’ according to Matt Kemp

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Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp hasn’t had the greatest 2013 season, battling his way through injuries suffered to his ankle, hamstring, and shoulder.

Kemp has been the subject of trade rumors the entire off season, so it will take a spectacular 2014 to keep him off the trading block. The Dodgers currently have four outfielders that include Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford, and Andre Ethier on the roster.

“My shoulder feels great, my ankle is still healing but coming along,” said Kemp to the LA Daily News. “I’m on the verge of doing something great.”

Kemp’s agent Dave Steward says he won’t be ready in time for the March 22nd -23rd trip to Australia. But Kemp has enough time to make his season debut on Opening Day at Dodger Stadium on April 4th.

Kemp who refuses to be a fourth outfielder will have an opportunity to prove that status this season. The key for him to staying Los Angeles in a Dodger uniform is to remain healthy for the season, and participate in the playoffs.

Kemp looks to resurrect “BeastMode” this season, and have a 2014 that is complimentary of the 2011 MVP type year.

Tanaka takes his talents to New York instead of Los Angeles

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After many weeks of speculation on where the most sought after pitcher in baseball will end, Masahiro Tanaka has decided to take his talents to New York City and the Yankees.

Tanaka signed with the Yankees in the early hours of Wednesday morning, for a reported seven years at $155 million, with an opt out clause after the fourth year of the deal.

The 25 year old pitcher formerly of the Rakuten Golden Eagles, went 24-0 last season with a 1.27 ERA, 0.943 WHIP and 183 strikeouts. He has improved dramatically each season since 2007.

The Yankees owe a posting fee of $20 million to the Tanaka’s former team Rakuten Golden Eagles as part of the new MLB posting rules.

He joins a pitching line up that includes CC Sebathia, Phil Hughes, and Hiroki Kuroda, along with a very price off season of new teammates that include Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Elsbury, and Brian McCann.

The Yankees are seriously moving in a different direction, and once again GM Brian Cashman has guided his target to the number one market.

Tanaka and agent Casey Close had until a deadline of 5PM Eastern on Friday to have a contract and physical completed by the team of his choosing.

Question is where do the go now, do they sign another pitcher, and what’s next for the Chicago Cubs who were said to be in the top 3 bidding for Tanaka.

The AL East just got a lot more interesting for this coming season, as the Yankees place themselves back in the race of the crown.

*Tanaka has a full no trade clause in his new contract with the Yankees.

Clayton Kershaw signs huge $215 Million deal

Dodgers GM Ned Colletti and President Stan Kasten announced the signing of their two time Cy Young award winning pitcher Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw signed a seven year, $215 million deal with an out clause after the fifth year. Kershaw is the highest paid pitcher in baseball.

Kershaw also spoke about his new deal and how he celebrated his new found, yet hard earned wealth.

Kershaw takes his case to arbitration

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The Los Angeles Dodgers and two time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw failed to come to a contract agreement, and Kershaw has now filed for salary arbitration.

Kersahw was apart of 146 players that filed for arbitration that include 2013 AL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer, Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price, Arizona’s Mark Trumbo to name a few.

In the last season of his current deal, the 25 year old Kershaw could command big money as a salary arbitration-eligible player. He made $11 million last season, has three straight ERA titles to go along with his two Cy Young awards, and helped his team achieve winning the NL West division.

Dodger closer Kenley Jansen and catcher A.J. Ellis also filed for arbitration, have a strong cases going forth.

Kershaw, Jansen, and Ellis will have an opportunities along with other players to swap proposed salaries with the team on Friday. If deals aren’t reach, then hearings will be scheduled in February in St. Petersburg, Florida.

The Dodgers are currently in the process of working out a max deal, that would keep their ace in Los Angeles for several years and financially compensated.

Dodgers keep their hand in Tanaka sweepstakes

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The Dodgers are in one of the most heated battles since claiming the NL West division last season, in attempting to acquire Masahiro Tanaka from Japan.

The Dodgers are in competition with several other teams, but remain the front runner with the New York Yankees as suitors for Tanaka.

The contract for Tanaka could go as high as $100 million, although the Dodgers remain somewhat tight lipped about the ongoing negotiations, don’t count them out for a moment.

Dodgers GM Ned Colletti said that the two sides speak daily, and are committed to possibly bringing in the Japanese phenom. The Dodgers vowed several weeks ago that they would not be outbid, and even though they aren’t going as heavy for Tanaka like they did with Hyun Jin Ryu, they have their target locked in.

The Dodgers have the money and flexibility to sign Tanaka, however one gem could be in their favor, is Tanaka’s wife who wishes to stay on the West Coast to further her music career.

If Tanaka joined the Dodgers, they would have one of the most feared and solid rotations in baseball. Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Dan Haren, Hyun Jin Ryu, along with a solid relief rotation, could be dominate for years to come.

Whatever team signs Tanaka has to complete his physical by 5PM EST on Jan 25th.

Dodgers and JP Howell reach agreement

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Left handed reliever JP Howell and the Los Angeles Dodgers came to an agreement on Tuesday, on a two year $11.2 million contract. The contract also includes a third year option.

The Dodgers were looking to strengthen their rotation this off season, and adding Howell allows them to do just that.

Last season Howell recorded a 2.03 ERA in just over 62 innings, and if he reaches over 120 appearances this season, he’ll be eligible to take advantage of a $6.25 million option for that third year.

Once the deal is complete after Howell passes a physical on Thursday, the Dodgers could still look for another reliever before Spring Training.

Howell was a key reliever in the Dodgers run toward the NLCS last season.

Don Mattingly needs to return as Dodgers skipper

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With a roller coaster of a season this Los Angeles Dodgers team has embodied this season, being that it is tinsel town, one can’t escape the irony of drama that surrounds the future of Don Mattingly.

Mattingly has been openly criticized not only by members of the media including myself, and also by Dodger fans for his questionable yet risky decisions this entire season.

One of the brightest baseball minds in the game, knows talent, and grasp the game better than most.

Once said by Bill Parcells, you are what your record says you are.

A team that was once 9.5 games out of first place and 12 games under .500 in his third year as manager, he did not make a great impression on the Dodger ownership and members of the clubhouse.

Mattingly’s response was always just let my guys get healthy and we’ll make it referring to his players. Many of the fans and media recited in unison the famous Jay-Z line “we don’t believe you…you need more people.”

Well Mattingly looked like a prophet of the biggest kind, because his team became healthy and emerged from the crevices of bottom of the NL West to an impressive 42-8 over the next two months and captured the NL West title. After making some trades that bulked up their infield, and ascending past the Arizona Diamondbacks into the playoffs.

Mattingly had battled not only through his team’s injuries, but termination rumors, warranted and unwarranted criticisms, and still he rises in the midst of the NLCS against the formidable opponents known as the St. Louis Cardinals.

Even though the Dodgers are on the brink of elimination trailing 3-1 in the series against the Cardinals, Mattingly still believes in his team.

We don’t have a lot of time to feel sorry for ourselves. We’ll be ready to play and that’s all there is to it,” Mattingly told CBS.com.

What was the turning point, many of us would say that fateful series against the Milwaukee Brewers. A time where Mattingly faced a serious crossroads if he didn’t lead his team in the right direction.

According to reports from CBS.com the Dodgers are prepared to offer him a possible multi year deal as manager. No one from the Dodgers organization nor Mattingly has commented publicly on the report. Worst case scenario, the Dodgers would pick up his option year estimated at $1.5 million.

The Dodgers finished 92-70 during the regular season and the sky is the limit, the only person standing in the way of the Dodgers success is Mattingly himself.

Does Don Mattingly deserve to be brought back as manager? At this point yes, he defied the odds, and time will tell if he will continue to defy the odds and bring a World Series championship back to Los Angeles. Something that no manager has be able to accomplish that since Tommy Lasorda in 1988.

Ryu and Puig get the Dodgers back on track against Cards

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Hyun Jin Ryu out pitched Adam Wainwright in a pitchers duel, along with Yasiel Puig breaking out of his slump with a huge hit that aided the Dodgers over the St Louis Cardinals 3-0.

The Dodgers still trail the Cards 2-1 in the NLCS series, and still have games four and five at Dodger Stadium.

The playoffs are one-day momentum swings,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “Right now I feel like we’ve kind of grabbed it.”

The Dodgers jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the fourth inning thanks to an RBI double to right that scored Mark Ellis.

Yasiel Puig connected on a pitch he thought would leave the Ravine, watched it sail into right raising his hands in excitement. Puig later saw it bounce off the wall and began to run the bases and ended up at third while clapping his hands igniting the sellout crowd. Carlos Beltran misplayed the ball that bounced off the wall and afforded Puig the triple.

Beltran spoke about  the celebration of Puig during that play, “I’m in the outfield,” he said. “I mean, it’s not great. To me, I don’t like it. But what can I say? I don’t play for them. I just play over here. I just need to do my job. It is what it is. As a player, I just think he doesn’t know about how to act.”

Hanley Ramirez obviously felt differently about his fellow teammate, “he brings unbelievable energy every day. When we spoke to him, he told me, ‘I got it today,’ and he did. He’s a great player.”

With Puig stepping out of his slump, the Dodgers got another boost with Andre Ethier and Hanley Ramirez returned to the line up, which provided them an added boost of momentum and offense.

Ramirez connected on a hit off Wainwright, Carl Crawford burned the bases as he barely beat a tag from Cards catcher Yadier Molina that extended the Dodgers lead in the eight inning 3-0.

“What can I say? It couldn’t be better,” Ramirez said. “Really happy we got the first win. Just come back tomorrow and even up the series.”

Kanley Jansen pitched a perfect inning and picked up the save for the victory.

Adam Wainwright began the game 4-0, picked up the loss. He pitched seven innings and gave up two runs, six hits and seven strike outs on the night.

“I felt like tonight if I had got a couple of balls in there, we win the game. I think you just have to tip your hat and move on,” said Wainwright. “I hate to lose like this!”

Ryu was successful in not giving up any runs in the first inning, and picked up his first postseason win as a rookie.

He looked healthier as he sat down 12 out 13 batters on the night. He went seven great innings, gave up three hits along with capturing four strikeouts.

It’s definitely a big motivation when you see your star players go out there hurt,” Ryu said through a translator. “It really inspires you and motivates you to go out there and do the best you can.”

The Cards didn’t get their first hit until the fifth inning when David Freese got a base hit to right.

“We just had a lot of balls in the air tonight that hit the ground that normally don’t,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “We’re a better club than this.”

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