Dodgers Now

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Category: Davey Lopes

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.

Dodgers clubhouse reacts to news of bankruptcy filing

Davey-lopes_195 Davey Lopes shook his head and laughed.

The first base coach was part of the Dodgers’ famous infield quartet of the 1970s and '80s.

Asked if he ever imagined the Dodgers would file for bankruptcy protection, Lopes replied, “I’m seeing a lot of things I never thought I’d see, let’s put it that way. It’s an unfortunate situation.”

I told Lopes that as employees of companies in bankruptcy cases, he and I share a special kinship.

“That’s not a kinship I want to be a part of,” he said.

Lopes said he found it curious that owner Frank McCourt hasn’t spoken to the players about recent events.

“No one’s explained anything to us, which I find a little ironic, for the lack of a better word,” he said. “Major League Baseball came down and did their little five-minute introduction when they were taking over operations, but beyond that, no one’s talked to them at all. I don’t know if it would help but it would get respect. I find it ironic that Mr. McCourt has not come down to address the players at all. I just don’t understand that. Obviously, he has his reasons. I just don’t understand that.”

Continue reading »

Now Matt Kemp and Davey Lopes are joined in the record books

Kemp1
Outfielder Matt Kemp and coach Davey Lopes started the season tight, but now they’re actually connected.

Kemp stole two bases in the seventh inning Tuesday night, giving him 20 steals on the season -- one more than he had all last season.

Kemp became only the second Dodger to both steal 20 bases and hit 20 home runs before the All-Star break.

The other was Lopes in 1979.

Kemp has six steals on the homestand. Under Lopes’ tutelage, he’s been successful on 87% of his steal attempts, having been caught only three times.

Last season he was caught 15 times in 34 attempts.

RELATED:

Tim Wallach says he has no interest in Cal State Fullerton coaching job

Mark Cuban says Dodgers might be too much of 'a mess' for him to consider purchase

Bill Plaschke: The reality of a trip to Dodger Stadium is surreal

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp. Credit: Stephen Dunn / Getty Images

Dee Gordon will be the regular shortstop, plus other Dodgers pregame notes

Dee-gordon_300 Dee Gordon will be the Dodgers’ regular shortstop in Rafael Furcal’s absence, Manager Don Mattingly said.

“I’m going to use him, play him,” Mattingly said. “I don’t think we can bring him and sit him.”

The son of former major-league pitcher Tom "Flash" Gordon, Dee Gordon was batting .315 in 50 games with triple-A Albuquerque.

“He’s got tools right now that play to the big-league level,” General Manager Ned Colletti said. “Losing Raffy for another extended period of time -- two weeks, three weeks, four weeks, whatever it turns out to be -- we needed to add somebody who could play a lot of shortstop. Jamey Carroll has been great, [Aaron] Miles has been great, to run them out every day for the next few weeks, we thought we would be a better club with the added talents and versatility of Dee.”

Gordon will wear No. 9.

He will presumably make his major-league debut over the next three days at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, where his father used to pitch.

“I know this place we’re at right now like the back of my hand,” Gordon said.

In other news:

--With Cliff Lee pitching for the Phillies, Andre Ethier is out of the lineup for Monday's game. With the Dodgers playing in intense heat and humidity in their recently concluded series in Cincinnati, Mattingly said he wanted to rest his left-handed hitters on a day when a left-hander pitched for the Phillies. Ethier said nothing is wrong with him physically. "Good to go," Ethier said.

--Marcus Thames, who was activated, is batting third. Mattingly offered some reasons. Thames is “hit or miss” against Lee. He has hit three home runs and struck out 15 times in 36 career at-bats against Lee. Mattingly said he hopes that by batting Thames in front of Matt Kemp, he will see better pitches to hit. Also, if Lee is pulled, Mattingly can put Ethier into the game in his usual No. 3 spot.

--First base coach Davey Lopes said he was emotional returning to Philadelphia, where he coached the previous four seasons. He said that with the Dodgers playing their home games in a half-empty stadium, he misses the intensity of Phillies fans. He said a difference of opinion of how he should be compensated was “part of” his decision to leave the Phillies, but that, “it wasn’t just that.” But he said he had nothing bad to say about the Phillies, adding, “They treated me great.”

-- Dylan Hernandez in Philadelphia

Photo: Dee Gordon during his spring training photo shoot. Credit: Harry How / Getty Images

Dodgers web musings: Can you believe in Dodger Stadium without believing in Frank McCourt? [Updated]

Frank-mccourt-stadium_350 OK, that’s not exactly what Times columnist Chris Erskine is asking, but he does make a case that the stadium itself deserves an open mind.

And with security expected to be at an all-time high in the coming weeks, Erskine figures it will be one of the safest places to hang.

Besides, he notes, Frank McCourt has good reason to get his house in order, because "there's too much money to be made at Dodger Stadium not to clean it up."

Also on the web:

-- Davey Lopes, meet The Times' T.J. Simers. Another love affair blossoms as Simers writes: "When I told him I expected more out of him than just time spent with Matt Kemp, he really got peeved."

-- The Times’ Dylan Hernandez examines the Dodgers’ failure to hold on to a 3-0 lead Tuesday against Tim Lincecum and the Giants.

-- A must-read from Joe McDonnell at Fox Sports as he shares how he and Padres Chief Executive Jeff Moorad survived different life-threatening bouts of flesh-eating bacteria.

-- Does Sons of Steve Garvey know about this? Steve Garvey is scheduled to appear at the Hall of Fame Classic on ... Father’s Day.

-- LA Weekly’s Gene Maddaus (via Kevin Roderick) wonders whom to vote for in Frank McCourt being sued by his previous law firm to basically prove they’re not incompetent. Writes Maddaus: "But the evidence suggests that Bingham's lawyers really are incompetent."

Maddaus thinks Jamie McCourt would have won even without the messy post-nup.

-- ESPN/LA's Tony Jackson writes that Tuesday was hardly the first time Chad Billingsley has struggled with a lead.

[Update: MLB.com's Mark Newman on an emotional Joe Torre paying tribute to his mother at Ellis Island ceremony.]

RELATED:

Chris Erskine: Don't give up on the ballpark, Dodgers fans

T.J. Simers: Davey Lopes is in Matt Kemp's corner, but can he help others?

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers owner Frank McCourt takes in pregame ceremonies before the season opener against the Giants on March 31. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

It's Clayton Kershaw the invincible as he dominates Giants yet again in 6-1 victory

Photo: Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw delivers a pitch against the Giants on Monday night at AT&T Park. Credit: Jason O. Watson / US Presswire Clayton Kershaw is the greatest pitcher in the history of mankind. At least when he pitches against the Giants, anyway.

Monday night, Kershaw did what Kershaw just about always does against the Giants -- throw blanks. Maddening, frustrating blanks.

He followed the seven shutout innings he threw against the Giants on opening day by shutting them out for another 6 2/3 Monday. He now has a career ERA of 1.18 against the Giants. The great mystery being, how did the Giants ever score six runs against him?

Kershaw’s dominating performance led the Dodgers to a 6-1 victory, although as is their wont, the Giants contributed to the Los Angeles offense with their that-ball-must-be greased defense.

Going back to last season, Kershaw has thrown 23 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings against the Giants.

On Monday he gave up six hits, walked two and struck out seven. In 13 2/3 innings this season against the World Series champions, he has struck out 16 Giants.

Continue reading »

Davey Lopes leaves Dodgers following death in his family

Davey-lopes_275 The teacher will have to watch his students from afar Saturday, if with a heavy heart.

The Dodgers said Davey Lopes, given much of the credit for the way the team aggressively ran the bases in their first two games, will not be with the club this afternoon because of a death in his family.

Dave Hansen will coach first base while Lopes is out.

The Dodgers won their first two games of the season against the Giants, largely because of a more aggressive approach on the bases. Lopes is also their base running coach.

The Dodgers are at home Sunday against the Giants, but are off Monday. They have games Tuesday and Wednesday in Colorado, with another day off Thursday. They then play three games at San Diego, where Lopes lives.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Davey Lopes at a spring training workout. Credit: Kirby Lee / US Presswire

Dodgers Web musings: It's a running start

Matt-kemp_600

An aggressive looking Dodgers has the Web wondering:

-- The Times' Dylan Hernandez said after two games that Matt Kemp looks like a different player.

-- Hernandez also pegs the Dodgers' opening-day payroll at $95 million (with another $15 million in deferred payments), a significant increase from last year’s $85-million starting figure.

-- ESPN/LA’s Tony Jackson said new base-running coach Davey Lopes' fingerprints are all over the Dodgers, maybe more than Don Mattingly’s.

-- Dodgers.com’s Ken Gurnick also credits Lopes for the Dodgers’ early success on the bases.

-- Gurnick also writes that despite the progress of Casey Blake with his sore back, the Dodgers don’t want to rush his return.

-- The Orange County Register’s Mark Whicker says the buzz is missing from this year’s Dodgers.

-- Baseball Savvy’s Howard Cole has a new Dodgers blog up for the Orange County Register. The more the merrier. It's oddly named Dodgers Blog. Where have I heard that highly original name before?

-- ESPN/LA’s Jon Weisman visits with ex-Dodger Orel Hershiser.

-- The Daily Breeze’s Joe Haakenson said Mattingly appreciates a good rivalry but is disappointed that some fans take it too far.

-- True Blue LA’s Chad Moriyama takes a look at the early defense of Marcus Thames.

RELATED:

Matt Kemp-powered Dodgers defeat the Giants, 4-3

Dodgers' opening-day payroll increases

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp is safe at second with a stolen base against the Giants in the season opener Thursday. Credit: Christina House / For The Times

Dodgers Web musings: All eyes on the start of the season

Opening Day across the Web:

-- The Times’ Dylan Hernandez takes a look at the impact of the Fernandomania phenomenon that rocked the Dodgers and all of baseball 30 years ago. Fernando Valenzuela will throw out Thursday’s first pitch.

-- Hernandez also writes that the Dodgers appear to have a new sense of purpose under Don Mattingly as they open the season.

-- The Times’ Jerry Crowe doesn’t think Andre Ethier’s words were the ones he was looking for to rally the troops.

-- Dodgers.com’s Ken Gurnick thinks the Dodgers have discovered a new enthusiasm under Mattingly.

-- ESPN/LA’s Ramona Shelburne goes the question-and-answer route with Mattingly.

-- ESPN/LA’s Jon Weisman thinks the nature of the Dodgers-Giants rivalry has evolved differently up north.

-- Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti admits to 710-AM’s Steve Mason and John Ireland that he was surprised by Ethier’s recent comments but has no interest in trading him.

-- The Daily News’ Vincent Bonsignore thinks the rest of the country doesn’t give teams in the West enough credit.

-- Fox Sports’ Joe McDonnell looks at the return of Davey Lopes to the Dodgers.

-- Sports Illustrated’s Cliff Corcoran
previews the Dodgers and the NL West.

-- LA Dodger Talks’ Mark Timmons offers his Dodgers predictions for the coming season (sorry Tony Gwynn Jr.).

-- The San Jose Mercury-News' Andrew Baggarly writes that Giants fans are excited to finally walk into Dodger Stadium and crow, "We’re world champs."

-- The Dodgers, Diamondbacks and the town of Oro Valley, Ariz. are teaming up to improve the baseball field dedicated to Christina Taylor Green.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Matt Kemp's search for the super-player within

The praise has been pretty unanimous.

Matt Kemp is focused. Matt Kemp is working hard, loose and relaxed, a different player from the one who took a giant leap backwards last season. All systems are go.

So are you optimistic? Hopeful, anyway? Or just a tad leery because you’ve been led this way before only to have to do an unwanted about-face?

Look, so far, so good. Kemp has been the Dodgers’ offensive highlight this spring. Doing the right things, looking more like the player a year ago everyone was so ga-ga over and predicting superstardom.

As The Times’ Dylan Hernandez wrote, Kemp has made the expected connection with new first base coach Davey Lopes, another plus. Under Lopes' tutelage, Kemp told Fox Sports’ Kevin Kennedy he hoped to steal 50 to 60 bases.

 

 
This all sounds good. It could be good, heck, it should be good. Even if you feel like you have to cross your fingers and go the bated-breath route.

Kemp got off to a torrid start offensively last year, and we know how that went. Last April he hit .333 with seven home runs and 20 RBI in the first 14 games of the season. Flowers were thrown at his feet.

Then over the next 20 games, he hit .233 with no home runs and two RBI. And since his fielding and base-running were horrid even when he was hitting, now criticism reigned. All prelude to a continued downward spiral that he never truly emerged from until the final five games of the season (five home runs, 12 RBI).

He told Hernandez then:

"I have to pay the fans back, man. They deserve it.

"They've been mad at me all season. I have to do something for them, something special. We all do. Give them a little taste right now."

That Kemp clearly was in a better place mentally, though it’s something of a chicken-or-the-egg bit. Better frame-of-mind led to better performance, or vice versa?

Thus far, he’s kept it going this spring. He lost 15 pounds in the summer. Although he always did the work required before, now he puts in the extra work the coaches wanted to see. Coaches he butted heads with are gone. A tabloid relationship is behind him.

Kemp is 26 now, maturing, giving off the right vibes. It’s spring, of course, which is even before "early" in the season. Before the first slump, the first setbacks.

For now, though, you want to give him the benefit of the doubt. Then for Kemp, it’s only a matter of doing it.

-- Steve Dilbeck

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