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Category: Brad Ausmus

Dodgers add veteran catcher Rod Barajas [Updated]

The Dodgers reinforced their thin catching corps Sunday by acquiring Rod Barajas from the New York Mets for cash considerations.

A 12-year veteran from Santa Fe Springs, Barajas was hitting .225 with 12 home runs and 34 RBIs for the Mets. He's a career .237 hitter who will turn 35 next month.

With Russell Martin out for the season, the Dodgers have been splitting time behind the plate between rookie A.J. Ellis and 41-year-old Brad Ausmus. The pair is hitting just .183 combined.

[Updated at 2:05 p.m.: Barajas is scheduled Tuesday to join the Dodgers in Milwaukee, at which time they plan to send Ellis back to triple-A Albuquerque. Dodgers Manager Joe Torre said Ellis would then be called back up when rosters can expand Sept. 1.

In another roster move prior to Sunday's game, the Dodgers activated right-hander Jeff Weaver from the disabled list. Weaver had gone on the DL on Aug. 3 with left knee tendinitis.

To make room for Weaver, the Dodgers placed reliever Travis Schlichting on the DL with a sore right shoulder. Schlichting appeared in one game since being called up Thursday, allowing a pair of runs in two-thirds of an inning Saturday.]

-- Kevin Baxter and Steve Dilbeck

Dodgers watch another one get away in 3-1 loss to Reds

Exhibits were on display Friday night. The classic baseball kind. The kind the Dodgers really didn't need to see, nor demonstrate.

The old baseball refrain is that good teams find ways to win, bad teams find ways to lose.

Any guesses yet as to Friday's outcome?

The Reds are a good team -- also a hot team -- which they showed again in their 3-1 victory over the Dodgers.

They started a pitcher who just last week made his first start in almost three months, Homer Bailey, and let him throw 114 pitches. They got three runs batted in from their leadoff hitter, Brandon Phillips.

And they made it hold up for their seventh consecutive victory, pushing their lead over the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central to 4½ games.

The Dodgers, remarkably, found still another way to lose.

They were locked in a 1-1 tie in the fourth inning when right-hander Carlos Monasterios fielded a bunt by Drew Stubbs ... and threw it to Chinatown.

That would be Monasterios, the starting pitcher. A guy capable of throwing 90 pitchers around the plate but unable to make a routine throw to first.

Monasterios managed to pick up a couple of ground balls for outs, which would have ended the inning. But Phillips, who had singled in the Reds’ first run in the second, lined another hit to center to score two more.

Three Dodgers relievers -- Ronald Belisario, Kenley Jansen and Octavio Dotel -- held the Reds scoreless the rest of the game, but the damage had been done.

Monasterios (3-4), subbing for injured Vicente Padilla and starting for the first time since July 30, went 4 1/3 innings and was something less than sharp. He gave up eight hits and walked one, but did strike out a career-high six.

The Dodgers scored their run off Bailey (3-2) in the third after Jamey Carroll walked and went to second on a single by Brad Ausmus. Monasterios’ sacrifice bunt advanced the runners. After Scott Podsednik lined out to short, Ryan Theriot beat out a bunt single that drove in Carroll.

Otherwise, Bailey was tough all night. He went seven innings, giving up four hits and two walks. He struck out six.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Replacements making Russell Martin's disappointing season look pretty good right now

Now, let’s see, all those of you bemoaning Russell Martin’s production and wanting him outta Dodge on the next train … how do you feel now?

It’s been 11 games since Martin went down with his injured hip, and even if his production was seriously disappointing this year (.248, five home runs, 26 RBI), it’s looking pretty decent right now by comparison.

Catchers Brad Ausmus and A.J. Ellis are a combined 4-for-37 (.104) with no home runs and one RBI in Martin’s stead.

Now, no one realistically expected them to offer improved offense from the catching position, but 11 games in and it’s been almost nonexistent.

And the thing is, the Dodgers aren’t really expecting anything much different as they close out the season.

"Our offense from the catcher's spot has been very light," manager Joe Torre said.

"I don't see any way it's going to change. I'm not going to say we're not going to get a hit or knock in a run, but it's not the threat that Russell gave you."

Ausmus is 41 and coming off back surgery, performed in April. Ellis is a 29-year-old rookie.

And there’s really nothing in the system to give a shot. Lucas May, who was a shortstop until 2007, could hit but wasn’t deemed ready to handle a major-league staff and was traded for Scott Podsednik.

Now, the No.1 catcher at triple-A Albuquerque is J.D. Closser, who is also light-hitting and 30 years old.

Russell also had his issues behind the plate, but in the last 11 games, his replacements have yet to throw out one of 10 base stealers.

Almost the entire offense is struggling, but don’t look for any dramatic improvement from the catcher’s position. And, oh yeah, Martin is expected to be out for the rest of the year.

How do you like me now?

-- Steve Dilbeck

Dodgers offense continues to falter in 13-1 blowout loss to Braves

Padilla_300 The starting pitching had been so good, so consistent, it was almost taken for granted.

It almost -- that’s almost -- masked the Dodgers’ continued struggles at the plate.

When their starting pitching did falter Sunday, the offensive woes were exposed for all to see. Raw and unsightly, feeble and unproductive.

The Braves, however, had no such problem, rolling to an easy 13-1 victory over the Dodgers.

And the days for the Dodgers (60-58), fourth in the NL West, to turn their season around seem to grow not by the game, but by chunks.

Right-hander Vicente Padilla (pictured at left) had a terrific seven-game stretch, going 4-1 with a 1.13 earned-run average. But Sunday he was off for the second consecutive start, giving up eight runs in 4 1/3 innings. In his last two starts, he is 1-1 with an 11.57 ERA.

Since July 16, the Dodgers’ starters had combined for a stunning 2.48 ERA. For all their struggles early in the season, their rotation had suddenly become their strength.

Only now the Dodgers can’t hit. Not against aces or middle of the rotation guys or just about anyone from the bullpen.

Their offensive struggles have been more acute in Atlanta. In the first three games of this four-game series, the Dodgers have scored a total of three runs. And none were driven in via a hit. In the three games, the Dodgers have zero hits in 16 opportunities with runners in scoring position.

They were handcuffed Sunday by right-hander Jair Jurrjens, who went seven smooth innings to raise his record to 5-4. He gave up six hits, walked one and struck out seven. He made it look easy.

The only run he allowed came with no outs in the seventh when Brad Ausmus bounced into a double play with the bases loaded.

Without that, the Dodgers are shut out for the third time in five games.

Padilla (6-4) gave up four runs on five hits in the third and four more in the fifth, three coming from Troy Glaus’ 16th home run of the season.

At a time when the Dodgers desperately need to claim some momentum and make a run, they have now lost four of their last five.

Their offense is playing without three injured regulars -- Manny Ramirez, Rafael Furcal and Russell Martin -- and Manager Joe Torre rested struggling Casey Blake on Sunday.

The backups, and the backups to the backups, could not step up. Which lately, has been a continuing theme.

The 12-run deficit Sunday was the worst of their season.

--Steve Dilbeck

Photo credit: Erik S. Lesser / EPA

Dodgers reap benefits of Brad Ausmus' commitment

Ausmus_300 Most people would have called it a career. Maybe had a nice emotional news conference. Thanked their family, their coaches, their teammates. Wiped away a tear and headed into the proverbial sunset.

Brad Ausmus was 41 years old. He had been catching in the major leagues for 17 years. Had already said that this was going be his final season.

And then during the first week of the Dodgers' season, he suffered a herniated disk in his back. He had back surgery and was told that it would be at least three months before he could play again.

That would put him out until the end of July. For that, he was going to battle to come back? All just to sub for Russell Martin once every two weeks?

"Initially, I thought he was done," Manager Joe Torre said. "Until I watched him come in here every day.

"To me, it was a challenge to him just to prove he could come back and be a player. Which doesn’t surprise me. I didn’t know him before he got here, but having been around him for a couple of years, there’s a lot going on there."

 

Continue reading »

In life without Russell Martin, Dodgers look for help in unexpected places

Dodgers-catchers_600
Now what?

Now that their workhorse catcher is down for weeks, and possibly even the season.

There are the moments seasons often turn.

A team loses a key player, grows smaller by the game and almost vanishes. Or it comes together, rallies, finds another way and other people to help get it done.

"Clubs that do well are going to get contributions from unexpected places," said Dodgers Manager Joe Torre. "We’re certainly going to need that.’’

Russell Martin is out. For at least a month, very likely longer, and possibly even the season. He has a torn labrum in his right hip. There will be a CT scan Thursday. Depending on the tear and where it is, surgery is a possibility.

"Three weeks on crutches is right now the best-case scenario," said Dodgers trainer Stan Conte.

"We’re hoping this is a nonsurgical situation right now, but that’s still to be determined."

Hip specialists will be conferred. A decision on treatment is expected in the next couple of days.

But regardless of the decision on surgery, Martin will be out a long time. Even if he’s on weight-bearing crutches for three weeks, it would still be weeks after that before he could realistically return.

So now the Dodgers will have to turn to catchers Brad Ausmus and A.J. Ellis, the former a 41-year-old catcher coming back from back surgery in April and the latter a 29-year-old rookie.

Ausmus, who has already announced he will retire after this season, has been an everyday catcher for most of his 17-year career.

"Anytime my name is in the lineup, I can catch," Ausmus said. "If not, then I’ll root A.J. on."

"I'm really not worried about it. Whatever Joe needs. If he needs me to catch six days a week, that’s fine. If he needs me to catch once a week, that’s fine. I’m ready for anything.’’

Torre said he would likely split playing time between his two catchers. One or both will need to provide that unexpected help if the Dodgers are going to charge back into the National League West race.

"The most important thing is not necessarily getting [Martin] back, but that he gets better," Torre said. "I’m not really looking for him to come back and help us anytime soon."

Martin, 27, was not having his finest season at the plate. He was batting .248 with five home runs and only 26 RBI.

The timing of his injury on a personal level was poor, with the Dodgers having to determine whether to tender him a contract this offseason. If not, Martin can become a free agent.

Right now, though, there are 54 games yet to play. Fifty-four games to rally, or disappear.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photos: A.J. Ellis and Brad Ausmus. Credit: Kirby Lee / US Presswire

Dodgers' web doings: On the trade deadline, rumors, TV ratings and Nance Bea

Cruising the web after a Dodgers’ off-day:

-- USA Today’s David Leon Moore gives a great overview of the Dodgers heading into the trading deadline, including the impact of the McCourts’ divorce, the lack of reliable production of Manny Ramirez and a strained bench.

-- Foxsports.com’s Ken Rosenthal says the Dodgers are not actively shopping catcher Russell Martin, but would consider moving him for the right deal.

Only if he goes, who’s the catcher? Barely-tested A.J. Ellis or Brad Ausmus, 41 and just coming off back surgery?

-- The Times’ Bill Shaikin, while examining the Angels acquisition of Dan Haren, notes how it’s exactly the kind of deal that past decisions by the Dodgers make it difficult for them to make now.

-- SI.com’s Jon Heyman writes that the Phillies and Dodgers remain the most active teams in the pursuit of Houston’s Roy Oswalt.

Potential deal breaker: Oswalt’s reps still want his $16-million option picked up to approve a trade. Sounds unlikely.

-- Sportsbusinessjournal.com reports the Dodgers’ local cable TV ratings come in at No.26 in all of baseball. The Angels are at 28. The Cardinals lead everyone.

-- Dodgerfannet.com does a nice and lengthy profile on longtime Dodger organist Nancy Bea Hefley.

-- Just in case you care, the Chicago-Sun Times’ Bill Zwecker’s gossip column has friends of Matt Kemp saying he’s talking engagement to Rihanna.

-- And I really have nothing to say about this. Been hanging onto it for weeks waiting for the right inspiration and now officially give up.

Jamieenterprises.net is the business/sports site for Jamie McCourt. There's nothing there but a bio and contact info.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Dodgers beat Mets, 3-2, in 13 innings

Dodgers1_586

The Dodgers faced a disaster Saturday at Chavez Ravine, just what they needed.

His name was Mike Pelfrey, a pitcher for the New York Mets, or so the media guide stated. But in truth, Pelfrey hadn’t been much of a pitcher lately, statistics indicated. In fact, he had been historically awful.

Entering Saturday’s game, Pelfrey was the first National League pitcher since 1900 – that’s right, 1900 – to allow more than 50 baserunners (walks, hits, hit batsman) while recording fewer than 50 outs over a four-game span.

The slumping Dodgers, who were 3-7 in their previous 10 games, couldn’t have hoped/prayed for anything better. But they managed only two runs against Pelfrey, and the the L.A. bullpen (not surprisingly) blew that lead.

Then, each bullpen tussled it out into the 13th inning, when James Loney hit a walk-off home run against  Oliver Perez to give the Dodgers a 3-2 win before an announced crowd of 43,506 at Dodger Stadium.

The game started off well enough for the Dodgers. Mets shortstop Jose Reyes lost a Rafeal Furcal ground ball in the sun in the first inning. Then Pelfrey threw the ball away on a pickoff attempt, and Furcal advanced to third. He later scored on Xavier Paul's sacrifice fly, giving the Dodgers a 1-0 lead.

The Dodgers added another run in the fourth inning when Blake DeWitt tripled and catcher Brad Ausmus, who was playing in his first game since April 8 after being out because of back surgery, singled him home.

Carlos Monasterios, the Dodgers’ No. 5 starter du jour, held up his end, throwing five innings of shutout ball, giving up six hits and one walk. But Dodgers Manager Joe Torresaid before the game that Monasterios, who was making his seventh start, would likely throw only 80 to 90 pitches.

And when Monasterios hit that 80-pitch mark, the Dodgers pulled him for reliever James McDonald, who started the sixth inning.  

Things started to unravel from there.

McDonald gave up an RBI single to Mets catcher Rod Barajas and got yanked for Jack Taschner, who lasted two batters, the second of whom singled to tie the score.

Travis Schlichting replaced Taschner and got an inning-ending double play. Then Schlichting was replaced by Kenley Jensen, the 22-year-old former catcher who had never pitched before last season and was called up from double-A Chattanooga on Friday.

Jensen pitched an impressive 1-2-3 seventh inning, then came All-Star Hong-Chih Kuo, who gave Torre a 1-2-3 eighth, even though it was the fourth time he had pitched in five days.

Closer Jonathan Broxton, who suffered from food poisoning earlier this week, pitched a hitless ninth and 10th inning, and Jeff Weaver didn't give up any hits either in the 11th or 12th.

The Dodgers offense, though, had struggled to that point, and failed to score in the 12th even after getting runners on first and third and no outs. But Loney's home run, which came on a 90-mph fastball with the count 1-0, made up for all that.

The Dodgers close out their four-game series with the Mets on Sunday at Dodger Stadium. Clayton Kershaw (9-5, 3.15 ERA) will face Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (6-4, 2.73 ERA).

-- Baxter Holmes

Photo: Matt Kemp grabs James Loney after the Dodgers first baseman hit a game-winning home run in the 13th inning Saturday and was engulfed by teammates. Credit: Jeff Gross / Getty Images

Dodgers put Manny Ramirez on the disabled list for the third time this season; out three weeks [Updated]

Mannyramirez_586

It’s not easy getting old, or at least being a 38-year-old Manny Ramirez.

For the third time this season, the Dodgers have placed Ramirez on the disabled list with a bad right leg.

Ramirez was put on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 17 before Tuesday’s game with a strained right calf, though the Dodgers said he’s expected to be out three weeks.

That would leave Ramirez unable to play until Aug. 9, at which time he would likely need a rehabilitation assignment.

Manager Joe Torre said he was certain Ramirez would be back at some point this season. Ramirez had just been activated from the DL with a sore right hamstring on July 15.

The next day he left the game in the first inning with what was described as right calf tightness after simply running to second on a pop up. An MRI Tuesday revealed the strain.

"That’s why it wouldn’t go away, it was something more than just mild, I guess," Torre said.

The Dodgers activated Brad Ausmus to take his place on the roster, temporarily giving them three catchers. At least for Tuesday, it gives then a much-needed right-handed bat off the bench.

Ausmus has been out all but four games after undergoing back surgery in April. Catcher A.J. Ellis could be sent down Wednesday if another outfielder is called up.

The Dodgers already have outfielder Reed Johnson on the disabled list with lower back strain. He’s not eligible to come off the DL until Friday.

"The player we bring up is probably going to be here until Reed comes back," Torre said.

The Dodgers have only one other outfielder on their 40-man roster, Trayvon Robinson who’s at double-A Chattanooga. The Dodgers, however, have room to add someone to their 40-man roster if they elected to call up an outfielder from triple-A Albuquerque.

Most troubling for the Dodgers has to be their inability to count on Ramirez. This is the third time his right leg has sent him to the disabled list. He went on April 23 with a right calf strain (though a different calf muscle). It is the second time this month he’s gone on the DL, having previously been disabled July 3 with a sore right hamstring.

"You never want to get used to it, you always expect him to come back,’" Torre said. "That’s the issue, you’re still anticipating him coming back. I know this was a big disappointment just by the virtue we just got him back off the list. And nothing really happened, but it was worse than we first thought."

Ramirez was also dogged by leg injuries in his final days with Boston in 2008, the seriousness of which was at contention with the Red Sox and one of the factors that led to his trade to the Dodgers.

If the Dodgers were considering trading Ramirez for a starting pitcher, Tuesday’s third move to the DL can’t help his value. Plus, Ramirez has the rest of his prorated $20 million for this season coming.

Though Ramirez hasn’t displayed the electric power he demonstrated when he first came to the Dodgers, he has still been highly productive -- .317, eight home runs, 39 RBIs in 186 at-bats -- when actually healthy.

Torre said the Dodgers would continue to start rookie Xavier Paul in left field in place of Ramirez, except against some left-handed pitchers.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers left fielder Manny Ramirez looks on from the dugout against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on July 18. Credit: Dilip Vishwanat / Getty Images

Dodgers catcher Brad Ausmus starts rehab assignment

Brad Ausmus could be back sooner than expected.

The veteran catcher began a rehabilitation assignment Wednesday at Lake Elsinore, going one for two as the designated hitter with a walk for the Class-A Inland Empire 66ers. His hit was a single.

When Dodgers Manager Joe Torre spoke about Ausmus on Saturday, he said the catcher might start a rehab assignment after next week’s All-Star break.

Ausmus, who had back surgery in April, is expected back in the 66ers lineup on Thursday and is scheduled to catch three innings.

Rookie A.J. Ellis has been serving as Russell Martin’s backup while Ausmus has been on the disabled list. Martin has started all but seven of the Dodgers’ 84 games.

-- Steve Dilbeck
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