Dodgers Now

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Category: Hector Gimenez

Ted Lilly can't continue the roll, as Giants pound Dodgers 10-0


The kid pitchers handed off to the vets Saturday. Alas, the results for the Dodgers were less than encouraging.

Ted Lilly, who received the Dodgers’ biggest off-season contract ($33 million for three years), pitched two perfect innings and then went into permanent struggle mode.

The Giants chased him after 4 2/3 innings, having gotten to the left-hander for four runs and six hits. Naturally, as is Lilly’s way, he received no offensive support in the easy 10-0 victory for the Giants.

Last season, Lilly received an average of just 2.84 runs of support per nine innings, the lowest mark in the major leagues. One game down into the new season, and he leads again.

Of course, Lilly wasn’t exactly helped by a lineup that featured five backups, including two (Hector Gimenez, Ivan De Jesus Jr.) who came in looking for their first career hit.

Casey Blake, Jay Gibbons and Juan Uribe are injured, and Rod Barajas and Rafael Furcal were rested. Because, you know, it is already the third game of the season.

The way Lilly, 35, threw -- and reliever Kenley Jansen -- it might not have mattered if he was supported by the ‘27 Yankees. This followed an outstanding opening-day start by Clayton Kershaw and a strong start Friday by Chad Billingsley.

Jansen, who struggled in his last exhibition outing, was as wild as he’s ever been. He gave up four runs and five hits in just one inning.

At least there wasn’t a full house at Dodger Stadium to take it all in. On the first Saturday home game of the season, the Dodgers announced they had sold 40,809 tickets. That, of course, doesn’t take into account the no-shows, who were fairly significant for the second consecutive game.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers shortstop Jamey Carroll applies a late tag as San Francisco's Brandon Belt steals second base during the sixth inning Saturday at Dodger Stadium. Credit: Jae C. Hong / Associated Press

Dodgers take another as Giants defense falters once again


Take heart, ye Dodgers faithful. Reason for hope is out there. Reason to believe things in the National League West are subject to change.

The Giants could have big trouble defending their crown.

Because defensively, the Giants are what you might call highly questionable. Their current outfield corners, Pat Burrell and Aubrey Huff, are not likely to be nabbing any Gold Gloves this season. They have a less-than-fleet third baseman in Pablo Sandoval, a rookie first baseman in Brandon Belt and a 36-year-old shortstop in Miguel Tejada.

And though just a mere two games into the season, the Giants are throwing the ball around.

They did in dropping Thursday’s season opener, and they were back at it again Friday, a pair of throwing errors helping the Dodgers to a 4-3 comeback victory.

The Dodgers made one error of their own -- Marcus Thames doing nothing to discourage questions about his defensive prowess by simply dropping a Sandoval fly in the sixth -- but it did not prove costly.

The Dodgers, however, have made the Giants pay for their miscues. But then, they have been plentiful. The Giants have committed five errors in the season’s first two games.

The Giants were up 3-1 on a Belt three-run homer off Chad Billingsley in the fourth, when the ball once again got all tricky for San Francisco.

The Giants’ undoing began in the sixth when Matt Kemp -- who had doubled in the Dodgers’ first run in the third -- led off with a single. Thames then bounced to Sandoval at third.

Kemp, however, was running on the pitch and was already at second when Sandoval threw. With his ground-churning huge strides, Kemp alertly kept going and went to third on the groundout. He then scored on a James Loney sacrifice fly.

Rod Barajas singled with two out. Aaron Miles beat out his chopper to Sandoval, who threw the ball past Belt for an error that advanced both runners. Pinch-hitter Hector Gimenez sent a bouncer back to Jonathan Sanchez that the left-hander simply dropped for another error as Barajas scored the tying run.

Rafael Furcal’s single off Guillermo Mota scored Miles and the Dodgers had their one-run victory, with a little help from that San Francisco defense.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Aaron Miles, right, rounds first base following an errant trow by San Francisco's Pablo Sandoval in the sixth inning of the Dodgers' 4-3 victory Friday. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

No major surprises as Dodgers cut to 25-man roster, elect to go with three catchers

Mike3 There were no real surprises when the Dodgers announced their 25-man roster to open the season after Wednesday’s game.

Of course, as the five Dodgers who will start the season on the disabled list start to trickle back in early April, more bodies will get shuffled.

For now, three nonroster invitees ended up making the team -- relievers Mike MacDougal and Lance Cormier, and infielder Aaron Miles.

The bullpen, infield and outfield pretty much fell into to place as expected. The only mild surprise was the decision to go with three catchers.

A.J. Ellis and Hector Gimenez both made the opening-day roster, meaning veteran outfielder Gabe Kapler was released. Manager Don Mattingly said General Manager Ned Colletti still planned to meet with Kapler, 35, to see if there is a mutual interest in his playing at triple-A Albuquerque.

Gimenez mostly made the team because the Dodgers liked his bat, but he can also play first and dabbled some this spring in the outfield.

"We’ve been trying to build with pitching and defense," Mattingly said. "Ellis knows our staff, knows our guys. Hector did a good job too, he just doesn’t know the staff as well."

Continue reading »

Could A.J. Ellis sighting put him back in the battle for possible Dodgers roster spot?

Ellis-dodgers_175 Meanwhile, remember A.J. Ellis?

He would probably understand if you’d forgotten. His has been the most invisible of spring trainings, which made for some serious bad timing.

In theory, Ellis (pictured at left) came to camp in contention with Dioner Navarro for the backup catching spot behind Rod Barajas. Even though prior to camp, Manager Don Mattingly said Navarro would battle Barajas for the starting position. Which told you where Ellis was in the pecking order.

Barajas started playing reasonably well, and after a slow start, Navarro too. All while Ellis struggled, managing just three hits in 27 spring at-bats.

His fate seemed clear: back to triple-A Albuquerque.

Then Navarro hurt himself swinging the bat in a workout before Thursday’s game, which sort of symbolizes how Dodgers have gone down this spring. It’s those little things.

Immediately attention turned to Hector Gimenez, this spring’s unknown from Venezuela who has been turning heads. Gimenez started Thursday.

But it was Ellis who emerged the day’s hero, drilling a walk-off, three-run homer to cap a seven-run ninth inning that left the Dodgers with a 7-5 victory over the Rockies.

Understand, Ellis and home runs occur just slightly more often than a Halley’s Comet sighting. In his last two seasons at Albuquerque and Los Angeles, Ellis hit exactly … zero home runs.

So they’re not his forte. No one claimed otherwise; he’s more of a slap hitter. But he performed well behind the plate last season, was liked by teammates and finished the season like something was clicking. In his final 16 games for the Dodgers, he hit .417.

When the Dodgers let Russell Martin go and then re-signed Barajas, you momentarily thought Ellis would return as the backup. Then came Navarro. And in spring, Gimenez arrived.

Gimenez is still the more likely candidate to stick if Navarro is unable to start the season, if only because he’s out of options and Ellis is not.

Still, it was good to see Ellis rise to the moment Thursday. There’s a week left, and stranger things have happened. Sort of like an Ellis home run.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo credit: Morry Gash / Associated Press

Dioner Navarro scratched from lineup; injury could open door for Hector Gimenez

Navarro_325 Backup catcher Dioner Navarro felt something while taking a swing during the Dodgers’ workout Thursday and was scratched from the game against the Colorado Rockies later in the day. Navarro left the Dodgers’ spring training compound to undergo an MRI exam.

If Navarro has to be sidelined for more than a week, this could open the door for Hector Gimenez to make the opening-day roster.

Gimenez, a 28-year-old career journeyman catcher, is hitting .286 with three home runs and seven runs batted in.

Because the Dodgers felt they were already set at catcher, they have had Gimenez log innings at first base and left field this spring. Gimenez signed with the Dodgers as a free agent and was put on their 40-man roster. Because he is out of options, they cannot send him to the minor leagues without risking losing him to another team.

Gimenez’s only major-league stint was in 2004, when he played two games for the Houston Astros.

-- Dylan Hernandez in Phoenix

Photo: Dodgers catcher Dioner Navarro singles against the White Sox in an exhibition game Sunday. Credit: Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press

Scramble for infield backup spot as Casey Blake appears headed for disabled list to start season

Aaron-Miles_640 Looks like caution will rule the day. Hey, if your team creaks when it walks, sounds like a plan.

Don Mattingly said Monday that it appeared Casey Blake would likely start the season on the disabled list.

"We’re definitely moving in that direction," Mattingly said.

Blake has been out with a strained back/rib cage since March 12. He’s hit off a tee, but that’s been about it for actual baseball activity. Rushing back just to play in the March 31 opener would be silly, and Mattingly seems to know it.

Better to give him an extra week or two to make sure the back is sound than risk re-injury.

Blake's starting the season on the DL would open another roster spot for an infielder. In the nine days since Blake, 37, was injured, however, the competition has appeared to become only more muddled.

And that’s assuming Juan Uribe moves over to third and Jamey Carroll starts at second. Carroll has been nursing a bruised hand and missing time himself.

Without Blake, Aaron Miles appears to have the edge at the moment in securing the extra infield spot. He’s hitting .343 with a .629 slugging percentage.

But Ivan De Jesus Jr., who looked as if  he wasn’t going to get it going this spring, is making a late bid. Mattingly would prefer that he play every day, however, so unless they’re ready to start him at second and push Carroll back to his utility role, he still seems headed to triple-A.

Then there is the unexpected Hector Gimenez, who came to camp as a switch-hitting catcherbut has been playing first base, and Mattingly said Monday he would also get a look in the outfield. Gimenez is second on the team this spring in home runs (three) and runs batted in (seven).

Gimenez, like outfielder Xavier Paul, is out of options and the Dodgers would risk losing him if they send him back down.

Plus, Jay Gibbons and Marcus Thames can play some first if the Dodgers wanted to spell James Loney. So many options, if none exactly thrilling.

The Dodgers also have light-hitting infielders Juan Castro and Eugenio Velez. Ten days until the season opener, and this one could go to the end of spring training.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Aaron Miles. Credit: Jake Roth / US Presswire

Can unknown Hector Gimenez actually make the Dodgers' 25-man roster?

Hector-gimenez_300 Nothing like that spring surprise, a player who seemingly falls from Asgard and suddenly starts thumping pitches around as if wielding the hammer of Thor.

They’re rare, and normally unreliable over the long haul, but tend to make things fun.

The Dodgers have just such a surprise this year in Hector Gimenez, a 28-year-old catcher with exactly two major-league at-bats who has absolutely no business making the Dodgers ponder an expected roster shuffle.

If still unlikely, it has become far from unthinkable.

Gimenez has bounced around the minors for 10 years, getting called up briefly by the Astros in September of 2006 before blowing his shoulder out the next spring and missing all of 2007.

The Astros waived him and he spent the past three years in the minors with Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh, last season playing for the Pirates’ double-A Altoona team.

The Dodgers signed him in November when they were almost without a catcher. Russell Martin was recovering from injury, and like Rod Barajas and Dioner Navarro, was unsigned.

The Dodgers not only signed Gimenez but put him on their 40-man roster. Yet after Barajas and Navarro were inked, and with A.J. Ellis in the wings, the Dodgers looked settled at catcher. Gimenez was seemingly forgotten.

Only Gimenez, a former third baseman, picked up a first baseman’s glove. If nothing else, he has been persistent.

He has struggled defensively at catcher this spring but continues to get long looks at first base. And he is hitting.

Gimenez is batting .345 and is tied with Matt Kemp this spring with three home runs and is second in RBIs with seven. Saturday he even stole a base. Yeah, it’s spring, but he’s getting noticed.

Now he has built a case for including him on the 25-man roster. A switch-hitter, he would be valuable off the bench. And he adds an extra catcher to the roster, who can also spell James Loney at first.

Trouble is, Gimenez is out of options, and like Xavier Paul would have to clear waivers to be sent back to the minors. Paul is homegrown and three years younger.

With right-hander Jon Garland injured and the Dodgers not needing a fifth starter to begin the season, a spot for an extra position player could be open to start the season. It’s assumed that would go to Paul.

But with Casey Blake and Jay Gibbons fighting injuries, another spot could open up. Gimenez likely would still have to beat out Aaron Miles or Juan Castro, but he’s put himself in the conversation.

Surprise, surprise.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers catcher Hector Gimenez singles during a game last month in Surprise, Ariz. Credit: Jake Roth / US Presswire


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