Feb 28

Spring Training #2, 2024

Yesterday Shohei Ohtani made his spring training debut for the Dodgers and homered in three at-bats. Today it was Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s turn to make his first appearance. He performed really well, and it wasn’t his fault the Dodgers lost their first game after five consecutive wins to open the Cactus League season.

In his first Cactus League start Wednesday against the Rangers at Surprise Stadium, the Japanese phenom tossed two scoreless innings, striking out three and allowing just one hit in what ended up being the Dodgers’ first loss of the spring, a 6-4 defeat. Yamamoto threw 19 pitches, 16 for strikes, displaying his wide arsenal of pitches.

[snip]

In total, Yamamoto threw 11 four-seam fastballs and was clocked between 94-96 mph. He threw three curveballs, all of which went for strikes. Yamamoto also threw the splitter and cutter, showing why he won the Eiji Sawamura Award three consecutive years in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league.

In other news, Max Muncy got hit with a curveball in his first AB and left the game with a contusion. He’s day-to-day (as Vinnie said, “aren’t we all”).

Tomorrow’s starter is yet another new acquisition: James Paxton. He’s a 6’4″, 212-lb lefthander with a lifetime record of 64-38 and 3.69 ERA. His career started well; he went 56-32 with a 3.50 ERA from 2013-2019. He’s had a tough three-year stretch since:

He was limited to just five starts during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season after a strain of his left flexor tendon. Paxton also underwent spinal surgery in February 2020 as well.

One year later, Paxton’s 2021 season with the M’s lasted just one start after he was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery. He missed all of 2022.

Jun 21

Game 74, 2023

Dodgers at Angels, 6:40 PM PDT, TV: Bally Sports West, MLBN (out-of-market only), SPNLA

RHP Michael Grove (0-2, 8.10 ERA) gets the ball for the visiting Dodgers and RHP Shohei Ohtana (6-2, 3.29 ERA) takes it for the Angels.

Today in Dodgers’ history:

  • 1900 Citing the Superbas’ poor attendance at Brooklyn’s Washington Park, National League president Ned Young discusses the possibility of transferring the franchise to the District of Columbia. En route to their second consecutive title, the reigning NL champions are averaging only a thousand fans on non-holiday dates.
  • 1957 In his first major league start, Von McDaniel‚ who graduated from Oklahoma’s Hollis High School last month, two-hits the Dodgers at Busch Stadium‚ 2-0. Brooklyn does not get a hit off the 18 year-old bonus baby until the sixth inning.
  • 1998 Bill Russell is released as Dodger manager and is replaced in the dugout by Glenn Hoffmann. In the front office, Tommy Lasorda assumes the general manager duties of the third-place club from Fred Claire.
  • 2016 Dean Kremer becomes the first-ever Israeli to sign a contract with a Major League baseball team when he comes to terms with the Dodgers, after being selected in the annual amateur draft earlier this month. The 20-year-old right-hander, who won Europe’s Most Valuable Pitcher award in both 2014 and 2015, has hurled for Israel’s national baseball team for the past three seasons. (Note: Kremer was traded to the Orioles in the Manny Machado deal in 2018; he’s 17-18 in four years with the Orioles).
  • 2021 Needing only 197 games, nine-year veteran Yu Darvish becomes the fastest pitcher to record 1,500 career strikeouts, easily eclipsing Randy Johnson, who needed nine more starts to reach the milestone. The Padres’ right-hander establishes the mark with the 11th and final strikeout of his six innings of work against the Dodgers.

Lineups when available.

Feb 09

World Baseball Classic 2023

This event is supposed to be a quadrennial affair, but the pandemic played hell with that as it did with so much else. So, two years late, it begins March 8.

After a six-year wait, the World Baseball Classic has returned, and it’s bigger than ever. That’s not hyperbole, either: The tournament field has been expanded to 20 teams, with three first-time participants in Great Britain, the Czech Republic and Nicaragua [What took Nicaragua so long to enter? It failed to qualify in its previous three attempts. Panama is a returnee after missing the last two Classics.] hoping for a Cinderella run. But they’ll need to get past Japan (looking for its third title), the USA (hoping for a repeat), the Dominican Republic (the pre-tournament favorite) and Puerto Rico (trying to win it all following back-to-back second-place finishes).

Baseball is more of a global game than ever before, and that’s proven on the rosters: There are 67 MLB All-Stars, 186 players on 40-man rosters and 332 players under contract with big league teams. There are eight Major League MVPs in Paul Goldschmidt, Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Freddie Freeman, Mookie Betts, Clayton Kershaw, Jose Altuve and Miguel Cabrera. In fact, 16 of the top 18 finishers for the 2022 NL MVP and six of the top 10 finishers for the 2022 AL MVP are scheduled to participate in the 2023 World Baseball Classic, with the reigning Nippon Professional Baseball MVP Munetaka Murakami and Korea Baseball Organization MVP Jung-Hoo Lee joining in, too.

So how many Dodgers are playing and for whom? Funny you should ask.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Austin Barnes, C (MEX), Mookie Betts, OF (USA), Liam Doolan, RHP (AUS), Freddie Freeman, INF (CAN), Clayton Kershaw, LHP (USA), Adam Kolarek, LHP (ISR – DPP), Jose Ramos, OF (PAN), Miguel Rojas, INF (VEN), Will Smith, C (USA), Trayce Thompson, OF (GBR), Julio Urías, LHP (MEX).

One more connection: Mike Piazza is managing Italy’s team.

Why is the Dominican Republic the favorite? Well:

This lineup is a veritable Murderers’ Row, with Rafael Devers and Manny Machado battling for time at third base, Mariners sensation Julio Rodríguez joining an outfield with Eloy Jiménez and Juan Soto, and Vlad Guerrero Jr.’s freshly minted Gold Glove and powerful bat just added to the mix.

The rotation looks just as strong as the offense, with reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara fronting a staff featuring World Series champion Cristian Javier, young Pirates fireballer Roansy Contreras and veteran hurler Johnny Cueto.

One more thing:

Note: Players marked “DPP” are members of their team’s Designated Pitcher Pool. Each WBC team may choose up to 10 players as part of their pool — these players are eligible to participate in one or more consecutive rounds of the WBC, but if replaced on their team’s roster will be unavailable for the rest of the tournament. Affiliated players in Designated Pitcher Pools who are not actively on their team’s WBC roster during a given round will report to Spring Training with their Major League clubs.

Adam Kolarek is part of Israel’s Designated Pitcher Pool.