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Category: Mike MacDougal

Clayton Kershaw update and other Dodgers notes

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Some early-morning notes from the Dodgers’ camp:

• Clayton Kershaw is scheduled to throw his first bullpen session of the spring Friday. The session was originally scheduled for Wednesday but pushed back because of mild back stiffness Kershaw was experiencing. Kershaw is expected to start his first exhibition game March 9.

• Mike MacDougal’s bullpen session Thursday was pushed back. MacDougal felt something in his back when fielding a groundball Wednesday during a drill.

• Right-hander Jose Ascanio failed a physical and left the Dodgers’ camp.

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-- Dylan Hernandez in Phoenix

Photo: Clayton Kershaw throws during a spring training baseball workout Wednesday in Phoenix. Credit: Jae C. Hong / Associated Press

Count on the Dodgers for these early rites of spring

Dodgers pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to spring-training camp Tuesday morning, and I am positively certain each one of these things will transpire:

-- Ronald Belisario will not only be there on time, he’ll proudly be wearing a lanyard around his neck holding his visa.

-- Catcher Ted Federowicz will arrive without sporting that 1970s-style mustache. Actually, I have no idea if this is true, I just hope it is.

-- The hearts of every hitter in the National League will skip a beat when Clayton Kershaw announces he has been working with Fernando Valenzuela to develop a screwball.

-- Manager Don Mattingly will have to take 267 razzings for good-naturedly wearing a dress for a charity performance of the "Nutcracker." In the first two hours.

-- Rubby De La Rosa will announce he’s at least two months ahead of schedule in his return from Tommy John surgery.

-- Catcher A.J. Ellis will tweet that Chad Billingsley already looks like he’s in midseason form.

-- Ted Lilly’s fastball will appear another 2 mph slower, and he will somehow manage to use it to his advantage.

-- John Grabow will go around the locker room and shake hands with every player, coach and media member, just to remind them he’s left-handed.

-- Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt will explain to some first-time camper how he was actually the only pitcher to beat the Dodgers in the 1988 World Series.

-- In his first time on the mound, Kenley Jansen will throw absolute smoke.

-- Mike MacDougal will again claim to be 185 pounds.

-- Mattingly will say he’s crazy about his rotation and in love with his bullpen. Heartbreak arrives with the hitters Feb. 27.

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-- Steve Dilbeck

Really, it's OK: Dodgers re-sign reliever Mike MacDougal

Mike-macdougal_300The Dodgers have re-signed reliever Mike MacDougal to a one-year deal for $650,000 with an option for 2013, and don’t go and get your I-just-sucked-a-lemon face on.

MacDougal proved a very useful, mostly reliable setup man in 2011. And that rare Dodgers veteran who remained healthy all season.

The popular refrain about MacDougal from last season is how horribly deceptive his 2.04 ERA was because he was truly so abysmal in preventing inherited runners from scoring. Which isn’t completely true, at least in terms of inherited runners.

Which is not to say it was sterling, but neither was it as horrific as memory tries to serve. MacDougal allowed 33.3% of his inherited runners to score, slightly above the 30.0% league average.

Few relievers, however, inherited more runners – 51, sixth highest in the National League – so when 17 came home, it still seemed like a lot. On the season with runners in scoring position, batters hit just .157 against MacDougal.

And since the Dodgers’ bullpen is loaded with youth – Kenley Jansen, Javy Guerra, Scott Elbert, Josh Lindblom – they could use another veteran along with Matt Guerrier and Blake Hawksworth.

MacDougal was a non-roster invitee last season, so anything positive the team received from him was something of a bonus. He came relatively cheaply at $500,000.

Having somewhat rebuilt his career, he no doubt was looking for a bump. The club opiton for next season is $2.35 million with a $350,000 buyout, meaning his one-year deal will really earn him $1 million next season, which sadly seems the norm these days. It at least beats the two-year deals being thrown around this winter. And right now it's hard to believe the Dodgers would pick up the option at that price.

MacDougal is mostly a middle-innings eater, who despite that glossy ERA still had a fairly fat 1.46 WHIP. He’ll turn 35 in two months and his best days clearly are behind him, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a role for him in 2012. Sure beats Ramon Troncosco.

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-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers reliever Mike MacDougal is congratulated by catcher Dioner Navarro after a victory over the White Sox in an interleague game last season. Credit: Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press

Dodgers announce first 15 non-roster invitees for spring training

Cory1The Dodgers have released their first group of non-roster invitees for spring training, and the field appears fairly weak.

Most have had brief stops in the majors elsewhere, but none with the kind of highlights that Aaron Miles and Mike MacDougal, both of whom made the team last year, at least had on their resumes.

Here are the first 15:

Right-handed pitchers Angel Guzman, Fernando Nieve, Jose Ascanio, Ryan Tucker, Shane Lindsay, Will Savage, left-handed pitchers Alberto Castillo, Matt Chico, Scott Rice, Wilfredo Ledezma, catcher Josh Bard, infielders Jeff Baisley, Lance Zawadzki and Luis Cruz, and outfielder Cory Sullivan.

Savage and Rice pitched well last season at double-A Chattanooga.

Bard, 33, got in 81 at-bats last season for the Seattle Mariners (.210). Sullivan, 30, has spent parts of six seasons with three teams in the majors, but all of it last year at the Philadelphia Phillies’ triple-A Lehigh Valley team, where he hit .210.

The Dodgers are negotiating to bring back MacDougal, but if for some reason that goes awry, a middle reliever could yet emerge from this group. Castillo, 35, was 1-0 with a 2.31 earned-run avereage in 17 games with the Arizona Diamondbacks last year.

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-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Former Colorado Rockies outfielder Cory Sullivan in 2007. Credit: Doug Pensinger / Getty Images

Don Mattingly talks about Dodgers' ownership issues

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Manager Don Mattingly said that as a player or coach, he never understood the influence an owner had on a team.

“When you’re a player, you’re just kind of playing and you’re thinking, ‘What’s the owner doing?’” Mattingly said. “It’s, ‘We have to do it down here.’"

As a rookie manager leading a team with major ownership issues last season, Mattingly said his thinking changed.

While Mattingly maintained the off-the-field problems didn’t affect the way players approached their at-bats or fielded ground balls, he said, “That’s the one thing I really felt like I had an understanding of, that force that ownership causes. It’s a driving force that says, ‘We’re going here. This is our mission. This is how we’re going to get there. You guys are entrusted to make that happen, but this is where we’re going.’”

Mattingly said he felt that circumstances forced him and General Manager Ned Colletti to take that responsibility.

“You just can’t do it from those seats,” Mattingly said. “I know there was lots of trouble with everything that was going on and Mr. (Frank) McCourt didn’t want to be a distraction by being down in the clubhouse … and he a lot to deal with … but I think that’s what we missed last year, more than anything, is that driving force.”

Mattingly said he hasn’t spoken to McCourt this winter.

What about Magic Johnson? The former Lakers star is part of a group preparing to bid for the Dodgers.

“Have not,” he said. “I haven’t talked to Larry Bird, either.”

Continue reading »

Dodgers Web musings: Fodder, Prince Fielder, slugger James Loney

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Why so quiet?

Hey, it had to happen sometime. After some early free agent signings and the Cy Young and MVP announcements, there has now actually been a moment of calm for the Dodgers’ front office.

Not completely, of course. There are those ever popular nonroster invitees to locate, and you can bet General Manager Ned Colletti is scouring the waiver wire to find fresh fodder before the winter meetings start next Sunday in Dallas.

He has reportedly already picked up a pair of journeyman arms for the bullpen.

Fox Sports’ Jon Morosi, via a Venezuelan publication, reports the Dodgers are on the verge of signing left-handed reliever Wil Ledzema. And Roberto Baly of Vin Scully Is My Homeboy reports, via the Melbourne Aces, they have signed right-hander Shane Lindsay.

Both were signed to minor-league contracts, presumably with invites to the big-league camp, and neither were designed to get you sprinting to the ticket window.

Ledzema will be 31 in January and this will be his eighth team in seven years. Did I mention he was a left-handed reliever? He spent most of last season at triple-A, appearing in five games for the Blue Jays.

Lindsay, who turns 27 in January, has spent all but six innings of his career in the minors.

These are the low-risk, moderate-reward (Mike MacDougal) type offseason signings that Colletti adores, though that would hardly make him unique amongst GMs.

Also on the Web:

--Hey, what if the price tag for free agent Prince Fielder actually managed to come down somewhere within sight of the Dodgers? I mean, like only needing binoculars instead of a telescope.

Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman thinks it will take a contract worth about $200 million to nab Fielder.

But ESPN’s Jim Bowden reports there has been so little action on Fielder than some now think he could yet return to Milwaukee.

--Colletti, however, told Mel Antonen of MLB Network Radio last week that James Loney would be his first baseman next season. And, oh yeah, he thought Loney could hit 20-25 home runs.

--The San Francisco Chronicle reprinted a great 1962 column from Charles McCabe on Sunday about how local gamblers suspected that Willie McCovey’s sudden September illness was the work of a nefarious Walter O’Malley and almost led to a great collapse by the Giants.

--To the surprise of no one, Dodgers.com's Ken Gurnick reports the Dodgers did not offer arbitration to any of their remaining seven free agents.

--All his bunting drives Mike Petriello nuts, but he tips his cap to the job Don Mattingly did in a trying rookie season as manager.

--What is it about Boston real estate and its links to the Dodgers? Yahoo Sports’ Ben Maller reports, via the Boston Herald, that after trying to sell his downtown Boston pad for six years, Manny Ramirez finally unloaded it for nearly $300,000 less than he paid for it in 2001.

--Ex-Dodger Bobby Valentine -- ex a lot of teams -- is expected to be named the next Red Sox manager, the Denver Post’s Troy Renck reports.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Slugger Prince Fielder is congratulated by Milwaukee teammates last season after scoring in Game 4 of the NLCS. Credit: Tannen Maury / EPA

Daily Dodger in review: Blake Hawksworth delivers middle ground

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BLAKE HAWKSWORTH, 28, reliever

Final 2011 stats: 2-5, 4.08 ERA, 49 games, 1.17 WHIP.

Contract status: Under team control.

The good: Had nice stretches and overall was useful enough as a middle reliever. Appeared in a career-high 49 games, and had personal bests of 7.3 strikeouts and 2.9 walks per nine innings.

Remember, he came in exchange for Ryan Theriot, who was generally a bust and wasn’t going to be brought back anyway after that wondrous signing of Juan Uribe. So any positive contribution was going to be a plus.

Went on the disabled list with a groin strain in the middle of May, which instigated the call-up of Javy Guerra, so I’ll give him some points for that.

The bad: He still had a 2.92 ERA on Aug. 9 when he went through a horrid eight-game stretch (11.88 ERA). Was considered a potential swing man when acquired from the Cardinals for Theriot, but he never did start a game.

He’ll be 29 at the start of next season, so this might be as good as it gets, and that’s OK.

What’s next: He’s out of options and in his final year under team control before becoming eligible for arbitration, so he figures to be back in the bullpen in 2012.

The take: So maybe you didn’t fall madly in love; there was still enough there to keep you interested.

General Manager Ned Colletti has a thing for bringing in journeyman relievers in the off-season, some of whom work out OK (Mike MacDougal) and some of whom who don’t (Lance Cormier). He’ll probably go fishing again this winter, but at least with Hawksworth he has a known arm. And if he stays healthy a full season, may yet have more upside.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo credit: Joe Murphy / Getty Images

Dodgers have most free agents, four days of exclusivity to re-sign

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The clock is now ticking on the exclusive window for teams to re-sign their free agents.

The Dodgers, with 10 free agents -– the most in baseball, have until 9 p.m. Wednesday before the players are free to also negotiate with other teams.

The four-day exclusive period for a team to re-sign its free agents began Saturday night.

Of the Dodgers’ 10 free agents, only one –- catcher Rod Barajas -– is thought to project as a Type B free agent, which could provide a team a supplemental draft pick if the Dodgers offer arbitration.

Of course, what the Dodgers can do financially is the great unknown. The team remains tied up in bankruptcy court. The team and Major League Baseball are reportedly working on a settlement. Their trial is currently scheduled to start Nov. 29.

Barajas, 36, earned $3.25 million last season with a one-year contract. The Dodgers are looking at going young behind the plate and not expected to offer him arbitration.

The Dodgers’ other free agents are: infielders Casey Blake, Jamey Carroll and Aaron Miles, pitchers Jonathan Broxton, Jon Garland, Hiroki Kuroda, Mike MacDougal and Vicente Padilla, and outfielder Juan Rivera.

Any could return, but it’s hard to have a firm offseason plan when ownership and a true budget is uncertain.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Outfielder Juan Rivera connects for a two-run double in a Dodgers victory over the Pirates in September. Credit: Stephen Dunn / Getty Images

Kuroda shines, but Roberts' slam wins it in 10th for Arizona

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If that was goodbye, Hiroki Kuroda made it memorable. Then Ryan Roberts added his own memory.

Kuroda will become a free agent at the end of the season, and at age 36, has said he’s uncertain whether he wants to pitch in the majors again next year or return for a final season to Japan.

When Kuroda took the mound Tuesday against the Diamondbacks, everyone knew it might be his final performance as a Dodger. So all he did was go out and throw six scoreless innings, holding Arizona to five hits. While not walking a batter and striking out five. It was Kuroda at his best.

Just so the humble Kuroda didn’t think anything had changed, the Dodgers typically offered modest support, scoring  only one run for him. They finally pushed five across in the 10th, only to see the Diamondbacks come back with six of their own in the bottom of the inning, Roberts' walk-off grand slam leaving Arizona with a stunning 7-6 victory.

Kuroda completed his fourth season with a 13-16 record and a 3.07 earned-run average -– ninth lowest in the National League.

Continue reading »

Matt Kemp going out in style, hits 38th homer in 4-2 victory

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If one significant opportunity has slipped away for Matt Kemp during the season’s final days, that doesn’t mean he’s given up on another.

Kemp’s spectacular season flirted down the stretch with a triple crown, but the past couple of days the batting title has drifted out of reach.

Yet with two games left in the season, Kemp still has an outside shot at a highly exclusive club -- 40 stolen bases and 40 home runs.

Kemp hit the 40 stolen-base mark over a week ago and on Monday hit his 38th home run to lead the Dodgers to a 4-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix.

Only four players in baseball history –- Jose Canseco (A’s, 1988), Barry Bonds (Giants, ’96), Alex Rodriguez (Mariners, ’98) and Alfonso Soriano (Nationals, ’06) –- are in the 40-40 club.

Kemp’s monster three-run blast in the first inning left him needing two homers in the final two days. Tough duty, but last season he hit home runs in each of his final five games.

The home run broke his tie with Cardinal Albert Pujols for the National League lead, and pushed his No. 1 RBI total to 123 –- fourth highest in Los Angeles Dodgers history. Still ahead: No. 1 Tommy Davis, 153 (1962) Shawn Green, 125 (’01); Mike Piazza 124 (’97).

Kemp went one for four on the night, dropping his batting average to .324. Mets shortstop Jose Reyes went three for four to push his average to .333962, slightly ahead of Brewer Ryan Braun at .333032.

The victory left the Dodgers 81-78, the first time all season they've been three games over .500, and assured them a winning record this season.

The Dodgers got 5 2/3 scoreless innings from left-hander Dana Eveland, who earned the victory to raise his record to 3-2. The journeyman called up in September retired 14 of his first 15 batters. He allowed five hits, did not walk a batter, struck out five and lowered his earned-run average to 3.03.

Eveland left with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth, but Josh Lindblom came on to strike out Paul Goldschmidt.

The Diamondbacks scored their two runs without a hit in the eighth after rookie Nathan Eovaldi walked the bases loaded. Scott Elbert relieved, but an A.J. Ellis passed ball allowed arun to score. After Elbert walked the bases loaded again, reliever Mike MacDougal came on and walked in another run.

Despite some shaky defense by shortstop Dee Gordon, rookie right-hander Javy Guerra pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his 21st save in 22 opportunities.

Jerry Sands singed in the eighth, extending his hitting streak to 14 games.

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Dodgers-Diamondbacks box score

--Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp is congratulated by teammates Jerry Sands and Dee Gordon after hitting a three-run home run in the first inning Monday night at Arizona. Credit: Jennifer Hilderbrand / US Presswire

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