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Category: Bob Schaefer

Dodgers coaching staff tranquillity: Whole group returns for 2012

Photo: Don Mattingly. Credit: Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press.

Ah, harmony, ain’t it grand? Not a frequent visitor to the Dodgers the last two seasons, but they have found a comfortable accord in one area.

The Dodgers announced Friday that their entire coaching staff would return next season, which, though expected, is still noteworthy for the speed in which it was accomplished.

Of course, the staff could still change if one of the coaches –- Tim Wallach? –- gets an offer to manage over the winter, but for now at least one significant area is all settled. And think how happy agent Dave Stewart must be.

It was Stewart who complained about the way the coaches Larry Bowa and Bob Schaefer were handling his numero uno client, Matt Kemp, last season. Guess which two coaches didn’t return in 2011?

Kemp, of course, found his groove this year with a breakout season, so why would there be any rocking of the boat now? Plus, they all seem to work well together with Manager Don Mattingly and are liked and respected by the players. Win-win.

So the seven solid coaches the Dodgers ended the season with are now all scheduled to return, though that technically still leaves them down one spot from the last few years. After hitting coach Jeff Pentland was fired in July, another coach was never added.

The seven samurai are:

Dave Hansen, originally hired as a hitting instructor to assist Pentland, was promoted to hitting coach on July 20, the team hitting .261 the rest of the way; Trey Hillman is back for his second year as bench coach; Rick Honeycutt is back for a seventh season as pitching coach after the staff composed a 3.54 ERA; Ken Howell returns for his fifth year as the bullpen coach; Davey Lopes, credited for igniting the team’s running attack, returns for his second year as first base coach; Wallach is back for a second stint as the third base coach; and Manny Mota a record 33rd year as a coach.

MORE:

Strong finish sparks hope for Dodgers in 2012

Dodgers' Matt Kemp has one final blast in 7-5 victory

T.J. Simers: Don Mattingly hopes he's earned his stripes as a manager

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Don Mattingly. Credit: Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press.

Matt Kemp and his ultimate question

Dare to be great.

It’s what you tell your children. It’s the drive you try to instill. That whatever the endeavor, give it your best and do not fear attempting to be great.

Then there are those times when extraordinary talent merges with extraordinary effort. When the desire to excel pushes rarified ability, until something truly special is created.

Does Matt Kemp hunger to be great?

That’s what it’s really about with Kemp. The one thing everyone agrees about when it comes to Kemp is, he oozes ability. He is blessed with exceptional athletic talent.

Last season, however, too often he betrayed his gifts. His defense lagged, his batting average dropped almost 50 points, his baserunning mystified. His hustle and fundamentals were questioned. There were run-ins with coaches. His strikeouts shattered his club record.

"I didn’t really have that much fun last year,’’ Kemp said.  "It was a disappointing season. Things didn’t go the way we wanted them to go.’’

If Kemp does not make excuses, neither does he particularly wish to dwell on last season’s shortcomings.

"It was a learning experience,’’ he said. "That was a hard year. Nobody wants to lose and not make the playoffs. We had a good team, we just didn’t put it together right.’’

Tuesday on the Dodgers’ community caravan, Kemp was upbeat as he led a group of fans along the Santa Monica beach to pick up trash. They followed him like the Pied Piper. They called out questions as he joked with a 7-year-old boy.

How do you feel?

"Like 200 million dollars,’’ Kemp said.

"Gonna hit 40-40?" asked one, referring to his September promise of 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases for next season.

"Eighty-eighty,’’ Kemp said.

Kemp was laughing, being playful, enjoying himself like he did too seldom last season.

Of course, it’s a tribute to his athletic ability that even in what was considered a disappointing season, he still finished with a career-high 28 home runs and team-high 89 RBIs.

But the results of those with exceptional ability are not measured against those of more modest talents.

There is more in Kemp, and like everyone else, he knows it. More on the field and in the clubhouse.

"I need to be more of a leader on this team,’’ he said. "I need to step up. When something needs to be said, be that guy to say it. I’m usually been one of those guys who pretty much keeps to himself. I think some things need to change. What we did last year didn’t work, so we need to change it up and do some different things.’’

It’s hard to step up in the clubhouse when you’re struggling on the field. Hard to find your voice, when you can’t locate your swing.

Kemp talks now like he cannot wait to begin his turnaround. Several excuses, real or otherwise, have been eliminated. Gone are the coaches he struggled with last season, Larry Bowa and Bob Schaefer. Over is the high-profile relationship with pop star Rhianna. General Manager Ned Colletti and Kemp are back on good terms.

Kemp, 26, normally says the right things. It’s the follow up that has often disappointed.

If Kemp can find the fire to match his ability, if he can master that focus … just how good could he be?

Does Matt Kemp hunger to be great?

"Of course,’’ he said. "You don’t want to be all right. You want to be really good.’’

-- Steve Dilbeck

Dodgers Web musings: MRI on Jon Garland's shoulder scared off teams

Some felt Jon Garland could have received a richer, longer contract if he had decided to sign elsewhere. Some were a bit mystified about how the Dodgers structured the contract tied to innings pitched.

Garland, however, offered an explanation this week on the 790-AM Mason and Ireland Show about why teams may have shied away, telling Steve Mason (audio):

``I had a few teams that were a little worried about my MRI on my physical. They were a little weary about committing that much money over a few years when there’s so much up in the air, especially with starting pitching.’’

Garland made similar remarks about the MRI on his shoulder to Jim Bowden on his XM Radio show.

Must be some fairly scary stuff on that MRI.

Any 31-year-old pitcher who’s thrown over 2,000 innings isn’t likely to have the cleanest MRI on his shoulder, but apparently it was bad enough to frighten other teams away from a long-term contract.

Which explains why the Dodgers would offer $5 million next season, plus $3.5 million in incentives based purely on innings pitched, the bonuses beginning with 150 innings.

For an $8-million club option to kick in for 2012, Garland must throw at least 190 innings. He has thrown at least 190 innings for 10 consecutive seasons.

Also on the Web:

-- Chad Moriyama at MemoriesofKevinMalone.com gets an early jump on evaluating the Dodgers eligible for arbitration … in 2011.

-- ESPN.com’s Tim Kurkjian writes that Don Mattingly’s work ethic and underrated communication skills bode well for him as the Dodgers’ new manager.

-- InsidetheDodgers.com’s Josh Rawitch, the team’s vice president of communications, said fellow Dominican Manny Mota talked to Juan Uribe almost daily after the World Series to persuade him to sign with the Dodgers.

-- The WashingtonPost.com’s Adam Kilgore writes that the Nationals have added former bench coach Bob Schaefer to their front office as a special assistant to GM Mike Rizzo. Guess that’s one team Matt Kemp won’t be traded to.

-- Yahoosports.com’s Tim Brown
likes the signing of Uribe and thinks the infusion of experience should serve the Dodgers well.

-- Foxsports.com’s Bowden lists his five best moves (video) of the offseason thus far, listing the Dodgers’ rotation signings at No. 4.

-- CBSsports.com’s Scott Miller finds himself pleasantly surprised by the Dodgers’ rash of early Hot Stove League activity.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Davey Lopes, Tim Wallach and Trey Hillman officially named to Dodgers' coaching staff [Updated]

Lopes_600

The Dodgers officially announced their 2011 coaching staff Monday, the news value of which had long ago dissipated as it was leaked out in pieces for weeks.

Manager Don Mattingly’s first coaching staff will look largely familiar, with even the new faces being old friends.

Officially out: bench coach Bob Schaefer, third base coach Larry Bowa, first base coach Mariano Duncan and, of course, hitting coach Mattingly.

The replacements: bench coach Trey Hillman, third base coach Tim Wallach, first base coach Davey Lopes and hitting instructor Dave Hansen.

Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, hitting coach Jeff Pentland (up from instructor), bullpen coach Ken Howell and coach Manny Mota all return.

Schaefer decided it was time he moved on, but Bowa and Duncan wanted to return. I’d have liked to have seen the no-nonsense Bowa back, never feeling that leading a popularity contest in the clubhouse among coaches was a requirement.

Mattingly, too, wanted Bowa, but General Manager Ned Colletti said the coaching staff would be a mutual decision between him and Mattingly, so you can see how that went down.

"We’re really happy to have this group here," Colletti said. "In my tenure here, this has a chance to be the strongest group we’ve had."

Though I don’t have any personal insight about the American League’s Hillman, Mattingly and Colletti deserve some props for putting together a strong staff. And one largely with Dodgers roots.

Mattingly gets credit for not being threatened by Wallach, the former Dodger who had managed the last two seasons at triple-A Albuquerque and was favored by many to succeed Joe Torre.

Continue reading »

Dodgers need to bring back Larry Bowa

This should be a no-brainer, right? As easy as hitting a Charlie Haeger fastball. Simple, logical … and far from a done deal?

Don Mattingly, rookie manager, needs a veteran presence as his bench coach. Mattingly said Monday he wants it to be someone with previous managerial experience.

Larry Bowa has managed both the Padres and Phillies. Figures he’s done all he can as a third base coach and would like to become the bench coach. Mattingly would like him to become that guy too.

Only so far, it hasn’t happened. So far, you should be nervous that it might not.

Understand, Mattingly is not being given free rein to select his own coaching staff. It’s a meeting-of-the-minds thing.

"We won't have anybody that he's not comfortable with or anybody that I'm not comfortable with," said General Manager Ned Colletti.

This is not an unusual arrangement, though I suspect not the preferred one by managers. Particularly young managers who will be keenly critiqued. Let them succeed or fail on their own, with their own staff.

But here, Mattingly essentially has to get approval for his coaches.

So why wouldn’t the Dodgers want Bowa back? One concern is, because he’s hurt Matt Kemp’s feelings. Or is it his silly agent, Dave Stewart? Or that he asks too much of the kids. You know, like playing hard.

"Baseball’s a funny game," Bowa said. "You get a reputation of being too tough, and a lot of general managers don’t want that, a real tough guy. I’m not tough, I’m fair. I’m real honest."

Earlier this season, Bowa said Kemp was an amazing talent who had yet to learn to play hard all the time. It was absolutely correct. Kemp even agreed. And yet, an uproar ensued.

"I didn’t get on anybody," Bowa said. "I said, 'Matt, you’ve got to play this game the right way.' Then he said in the paper, 'Larry’s right. I don’t run hard all the time.' I mean, if that makes you lose your job, maybe it’s time to move on somewhere. When I say something about a player, I’m trying to make him better."

Bob Schaefer spent the last three years as Joe Torre’s bench coach and said he won’t return. Schaefer, remember, confronted Kemp in the dugout over his continual failure to back up second base but never publicly criticized the outfielder.

Mariano Duncan, the Dodgers’ first base coach, is not expected back. Duncan said he’s been given permission to talk to other clubs, which is code for you won’t be retained. Duncan said if he can’t find another major league job, the Dodgers might have something in their minor-league system for him.

Rick Honeycutt could return as pitching coach and Jeff Pentland as hitting instructor. Tim Wallach, if he isn’t hired to manage in the majors, could become the hitting coach.

That still leaves room for a veteran, honest coach who respects the game. Who gives straight answers. Who has been through the wars.

"If they want me back, I’d be glad to come back," Bowa said. "Because I sort of consider this unfinished business. Even though we won the division, to me the ultimate thing is a ring."

I was talking to ex-Dodger Jay Johnstone a couple of weeks ago about the team, when without prompting, he suddenly said:

"You give me nine Larry Bowas and I’ll win the World Series every year."

Mattingly needs Bowa back. And so do the kids, even if they don’t realize it.

-- Steve Dilbeck

The Matt Kemp enigma continued: Dodgers coaches, agent Dave Stewart talk, kiss, spew, make up

Love, love, love. … Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game. It's easy.

Then again, maybe not. Not even when everybody claims to have the same interest in mind -- making Matt Kemp the best player he can be.

Still, Kemp’s agent, Dave Stewart, went off on the Dodgers’ coaches in a column by The Times' Bill Plaschke, saying he was tired of them criticizing the outfielder and that it felt like "open season on Matt."

This was a curious reaction, and bit of odd timing on Stewart’s part. Understand, it's his job is to look out for his client, to support him, coddle him if necessary, and get him the biggest, fattest contract possible.

Stewart was upset with Dodgers coaches Bob Schaefer and Larry Bowa for ripping Kemp in the media this season. Which was interesting since Schaefer has never never publicly criticized Kemp. And Bowa has once, two weeks ago, to Times columnist T.J. Simers, saying that Kemp doesn’t always play hard. To which Kemp completely agreed.

Continue reading »

In the aftermath: suspensions, umpires' miscues, James McDonald to the bullpen, call ups and more

Sorting through the rumble the day after, very carefully …

-- The three Dodgers ejected Tuesday night were all suspended on Wednesday: Manager Joe Torre for Wednesday’s game, bench coach Bob Schaefer for one game (Thursday) and right-hander Clayton Kershaw for five games.

All it really means for Kershaw is that he’ll pitch one day later than normal. Not exactly a death knell.

-- Torre said when he spoke Tuesday to Bob Watson, MLB vice president of on-field operations, Watson confirmed the umpires had messed up the ninth inning Tuesday.

As written here earlier, when acting manager Don Mattingly turned to respond to James Loney and went back on the mound a second time, Mattingly should have been ejected and Jonathan Broxton allowed to pitch to the batter, Andres Torres, before being forced to leave the game.

Instead, the umpires allowed Mattingly to remain and immediately forced him to remove Broxton.

"It was just a screw up all the way around," Torre said.

-- Torre said there was no protest for the team to make now; they would have had to make it at the time the umpires made the mistake.

So who would have protested? Torre and Schaefer were already ejected and in the clubhouse. Was Mattingly supposed to say, "Hey, wait, you’re supposed to eject me and leave Broxton in for one batter?"

"Really, the people who are supposed to protest weren’t in the dugout," Torre said. "And that’s me."

-- Because the bullpen is currently beat up, instead of calling up an outfielder to replace Manny Ramirez on the disabled list, the Dodgers instead brought up left-handed reliever Jack Taschner.

This might not bode well for struggling left-hander George Sherrill. The journeyman Taschner was released by the Pirates in June. He signed with Albuquerque and had a 3.60 ERA in 10 games.

An outfielder, however, is expected to be added quickly -- possibly as soon as Thursday -- so one pitcher will have go.

-- James McDonald has been moved to the bullpen as a middle man and will not take a second start.

Torre said Saturday’s starter would be determined after he sees how the bullpen is used Wednesday.

That means Carlos Monasterios is the likely starter, though Torre said John Ely, now at triple-A Albuquerque, is also a candidate.

-- Outside of losing, the thing that Torre was still most upset about the next day was the umpires giving a cold Sherrill only eight pitches to warm up after they forced Broxton to exit the game.

Crew chief Tim McClelland had told Mattingly that Sherrill would get as much time to warm up as needed, but that wasn’t communicated to home plate umpire Adrian Johnson, who stopped Sherrill after eight.

McClelland told Torre he was talking to the rest of the umpires about another dispute and was unaware how many warm-ups Sherrill had thrown when Johnson called Torres to the plate.

"And I guess McClelland said, 'Are you ready?’ And (Sherrill) said, 'Well, I guess so.’ And that was that."

Torre said Sherrill could have asked for more warm-up pitches, but was just as confused as everyone else.

-- Mattingly is Torre’s anointed successor but has never been a manager. Torre said Mattingly’s faux pas has no reflection on his ability to manage.

"That has nothing to do with anything as far as his managerial ability," Torre said. "That’s just one of those reaction things. You turn around and talk to one of your players. That’s something you learn from and move on. It’s certainly easy to do when you walk off the mound when somebody says something to you."

-- Just who isn’t learning here? Loney almost forced Torre to make the same mistake of turning around and returning to the mound a second time to address a question last week in St. Louis.

"James knew exactly what he needed to do [Tuesday], he just wanted to be reassured," Torre said. "He felt badly last night. Manny said to me, 'How can Donny listen to James anyway?'

"You have to laugh at yourself at this point, because you can’t get that one back."

-- Steve Dilbeck

Clayton Kershaw, Joe Torre and Bob Schaefer draw suspensions

Clayton Kershaw received a five-game suspension for intentionally throwing at Aaron Rowand of the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday night, the commissioner's office announced.

Manager Joe Torre and bench coach Bob Schaefer were also disciplined, as each drew a one-game suspension for their actions in that same game.

Kershaw has elected to file an appeal, meaning his suspension will be suspended until the process is complete.

Torre, who was punished because Kershaw threw at Rowand after both benches were warned, will serve his suspension Wednesday night when the Dodgers conclude their three-game series against the Giants.

Schaefer, who was thrown out of Tuesday's game for arguing that Danny Bautista should have been ejected for throwing at Russell Martin's head, is expected to serve his suspension on Thursday when the Dodgers open a four-game series against the New York Mets.

-- Dylan Hernandez

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