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Category: Joe Torre

Ted Green: Why did Joe Torre use James McDonald?

Mcdonald_500

So let me see if I have this right.

The Dodgers are desperately holding on to what precious little is left of their once-healthy nine-game lead. It's Aug. 25, the biggest game of the year to date. The Rockies are white-hot, closing to within three games the night before against the Giants on a dramatic walk-off grand slam in the 14th inning.  The Rockies have so much "Moe," as in momentum, the Three Stooges are jealous.

Once 15 games behind the Dodgers and dead last in the NL West, here they were, L.A. and Colorado, tied 4-4 in the 10th inning in a big potential momentum-turning type of game.

And Joe Torre brings in ... James McDonald?

Old McDonald, as in Ee i ee i ... NO?

McDonald isn't old, he's just 24, but he does need to go back to the farm.

He was no more ready for that kind of high-wire moment than Ronald McDonald.

When he came in to start the 10th, I promise this is true, I immediately turned to a colleague here in the sports department and said:

To borrow from Eric Gagne, only in reverse, Game Over.

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Ted Green: Juan Pierre's world just isn't fair

Pierre

Just as perhaps a million people flock to L.A. to celebrate the life of a supernaturally gifted entertainer, but possible pedophile, and just as we cheer ourselves hoarse for a steroid cheat because he's a colorful savant who happens to hit the heck out of a baseball, so, too, do we often ignore the understated professionals who work hard, say little, exceed expectations and play by the rules.

Welcome to Juan's world.

You almost shook your head knowingly when National League managers entrusted with making the right calls ignored Juan Pierre, too, choosing Orlando Hudson as an All-Star reserve instead of Pierre, who's hitting a phat 40 points higher than his slumping teammate, .328 to .288.

That .328, by the way, is fifth best in the National League and sixth best in all of baseball. And two of the five guys ahead of him are named Suzuki and Pujols.

Yet, amid a sea of 99 jerseys and braided wigs, good luck finding one fan wearing a number 9 with "Pierre" stitched across the back.

But if it's professionalism you admire, look no farther than the Dodgers' new backup left fielder.

Not only did Pierre step into the Dodger outfield when Manny got caught trying to get pregnant, or whatever he was doing with P-E-D's, but the 32-year-old from Louisiana performed brilliantly, immediately becoming the team's most reliable everyday player. What's more, when Manny finished his 50-game penance and was proclaimed ready to take over the world again, with all seemingly forgiven and forgotten, as if nothing happened, Pierre didn't utter a peep.

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Ted Green: L.A. stories ... asked and answered

Manny3 These L.A. stories are in the news. And if they're not, they will be. Let me help with some perspective and explanation.

An idea for crowd control: If they do hold a huge Michael Jackson memorial service at Staples Center on Tuesday, have a Sparks game come in immediately behind it. That should clear the arena quickly and safely.

Why Manny won't apologize: Because it's like asking a frat boy to apologize for drinking beer. Why should he when everyone on frat row is doing the same thing? Ever notice that none of the performance enhancers who get busted in baseball ever show an iota of genuine remorse or honest contrition? And when they do apologize, it's because their agents tell them it's good PR. Why don't they ever own up? Because they aren't sorry! They figure they're doing what 95% of players in every clubhouse have, and likely still are doing, which is juicing, a way of life in today's game. They're only sorry they get caught.

Why Juan Pierre, a top 10 hitter in the National League, has to go back to the bench:
Because his next home run this season will be his first. Because with his arm, Juan needs TWO relay men. Because they're paying Manny mucho dinero. And because no one wants to pay to sit in Pierrewood.

Why it's non-negotiable -- the Dodgers and Ned Colletti must bring in a front-line pitcher: Because they could lose their chance at the World Series if they don't. And if Joe Torre keeps over-relying on the bullpen the way he has, the Troncosos, Belisarios and Broxtons are gonna be KICKING the ball up to home plate by mid-August. But Kershaw is growing up very quickly now, right before our eyes. If they add a Peavy or Cliff Lee and Manny hits, they're way good to go.

Why Randy Wolf gets so many no-decisions:
Is it lack of run support, bad luck, occasionally good luck? I can't decide. Apparently, it's contagious. But if he gets any more no-decisions, he's going to have to start pitching for the government.

Why Kobe is staying with the Lakers: Because the water along the Riverwalk in San Antonio is dirty and muddy? Because you can't find good sushi in Memphis? Because Houston has a problem? Because 20 other NBA franchises are useless? I mean, where would he go, New York? They have no players. Besides, the Knicks haven't won a title since Red Holzman had hair and Phil Jackson was 27 with hips of his own that worked. Of COURSE Kobe is staying with the Lakers. L.A. is his home and he owns this city now. Besides, staying is his only shot at catching Jordan and his six rings.

Why Shaq won't make the difference in Cleveland:
Because he's on the downside. Because his downside has a downside and it's getting steeper by the minute. The Cavs were already playing too slowly and not scoring enough points BEFORE Shaq got there. Now they'll be playing at the speed of a 33-RPM vinyl record. LeBron can film three more puppet commercials in the time it'll take Shaq to cross half-court.

Why the Clippers are apparently trading their top scorer, Zach Randolph: You really have to ask? Randolph is one of those NBA scorers who is just good enough to lose 60 games with. I hear there is actually a lottery Ping-Pong ball that has Zach's picture on it. Besides, in financial terms, owing Zach Randolph $33 million must feel like owning stock in General Motors. Plus, confidence in your scoring ability is not the same thing as smart. The Clips knew Zach would still need 30 touches a night to feel like The Man, but there's only room for one man and Blake Griffin is The Man now. Or should be by January.

-- Ted Green

Green formerly covered sports for the L.A. Times. He is currently senior sports producer for KTLA Prime News.

Photo: Manny Ramirez walks back to the Inland Empire 66ers dugout after striking out in a minor league game Sunday. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Dodgers Manager Joe Torre on Manny Ramirez

Torre_300 Below are a few tidbits from Dodgers Manager Joe Torre’s meeting with reporters before the game on Friday night.

Asked if Manny Ramirez was set to start upon his return from a 50-game suspension, Torre deflected the question, saying:

“That’s going to have to come out of a different department. I’m not at liberty to tell you anything, because there’s really nothing that we know for sure until something happens. … It’s going to have to come from someone higher than I am, probably from the [public relations] people.”

The PR folks might be wondering when a potential pay raise would kick in. (Torre is under a three-year, $13-million deal he signed in 2007.)

The response sent reporters laughing.

Asked if Ramirez’s suspension was a benefit to other players, Torre said:

“Even when Manny was down, we felt -- or at least I felt -- don’t try to do anything more than what you’re doing. We have a lineup that -- for the first month and a half, maybe more -- we had Casey Blake batting eighth. So you’re talking about a lineup with that kind of length to it –- you have a guy coming off the bench when Manny was not available for us to be Juan Pierre, a guy a couple of years played 162 games -- so we’ve been pretty lucky to have the quality that we’ve had. Even to the point of [Brad] Ausmus and [Juan] Castro and [Mark] Loretta, and these guys who’ve been regulars in the past, being a part of our bench group. So it did not surprise me that we’ve done well. I think the fact that we haven’t scored a lot of runs is a product of Manny not being here because he certainly makes us better. He certainly keeps these guys from thinking, 'I have to do it, I have to do it, I have to do it.' When he’s here, he’s certainly that threat that makes people around him better aside from his own ability.”

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Torre named to All-Star coaching staff

Torre Dodgers Manager Joe Torre has been selected as one of the National League coaches for the July 14 All-Star Game in St. Louis.

Torre played for the St. Louis Cardinals for six years and managed them for an additional five. He won the NL Most Valuable Player award as a Cardinal in 1971, when he hit .363 with 24 home runs and 137 runs batted in.

Torre and Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa were selected as coaches by NL Manager Charlie Manuel of the Philadelphia Phillies, with Trey Hillman of the Kansas City Royals and Don Wakamatsu of the Seattle Mariners selected as coaches by the American League manager, Joe Maddon of the Tampa Bay Rays.

Maddon, formerly the bench coach under Angels Manager Mike Scioscia,  told The Times' Kevin Baxter last week that he wanted to pick Scioscia but league officials advised otherwise, since Scioscia almost certainly will coach next season, when the All-Star Game is played in Anaheim.

-- Bill Shaikin

Photo: Dodgers Manager Joe Torre. Credit: Christine Cotter / Los Angeles Times

Sammy Sosa news: Joe Torre, Jason Giambi, Don Mattingly react

The news that former Chicago Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa  allegedly tested positive for

performance-enhancing drugs in 2003 triggered plenty of reaction in the clubhouses of the Dodgers and Angels, as well as the A's, who play the Dodgers tonight.


While a full story will be on latimes.com/sports later tonight, the A's Jason Giambi this afternoon talked with Los Angeles Times columnist Kurt Streeter. Asked whether releasing the entire list of 104 players who tested positive could help baseball move forward, he acknowledged, “It could. I don’t know. It could. I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about it.... I've moved on."


Former Yankees great Don Mattingly, now the Dodgers hitting coach, told Times baseball columnist Bill Shaikin:


"I don't think it surprises anybody any more. I think it's good that we've got a policy in

place. It protects everybody. It protects the fans. It protects the teams. It protects the

players from each other. The more that fans can trust that what they're seeing is what

they're getting, the better.

 

"Obviously, there's a lot of guys. I'd just go ahead -- if there's 103 guys, let's get 'em

all out. We'll know who's who and go from there. We'll get it over with."

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Video: Dodgers' Torre, on 'Tonight Show,' welcomes Conan to L.A.

Conan O'Brien and Dodgers Manager Joe Torre had a fun interview last night on "The Tonight Show." Torre welcomed his fellow New York transplant to Los Angeles by giving him a baseball cap, a jersey and a couple of shots of wheatgrass juice.

The conversation had some typically great baseball stories and also looked at the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry. Of note for local fans, Torre showed a soft spot for Manny Ramirez and what he's going through as a person right now.

I forgot until the end of the segment that Torre was promoting his book "The Yankee Years."

O'Brien opened the show by joking about the riots in Iran, saying he wasn't sure if they were about the election or because the Lakers had won. Then he did a longer bit about the Lakers celebration, which is posted on the show's website.

--Adam Rose

Joe Torre calls Yankees fans 'impatient'

Dodgers manager Joe Torre greets the crowd during the Dodgers' opening day game with the Giants at Dodger Stadium. The Yankee Stadium fans turned on Manager Joe Girardi on Tuesday. In the late innings of another loss to the Boston Red Sox, one that dropped the Yankees back to .500, the fans started chanting, "We Want Torre!"

That would be Joe Torre, shoved out of town by the Yankees after 12 consecutive playoff appearances. The Yankees hired Girardi, who did not get to the playoffs. The Dodgers hired Torre, who did.

Torre did not much care for the Yankee Stadium fans chanting his name. Girardi played and coached for Torre in New York.

"Those fans are impatient," he said. "I feel for Joe. The kid is a good manager. He's going to be a better manager."

-- Bill Shaikin

Photo: Dodgers manager Joe Torre greets the crowd during the Dodgers' opening day game with the Giants at Dodger Stadium. Credit: Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times.

Dodgers notes: Manny Ramirez to get two at-bats in Cactus League finale

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Manny Ramirez will get two at-bats today in the Dodgers' Cactus League finale  against the San Francisco Giants. Opening day starter Hiroki Kuroda will pitch for the last time this spring.

Starting for the Giants is their version of Clayton Kershaw, 19-year-old left-hander Madison Bumgarner.

Most of the Dodgers regulars are already back in Los Angeles or on their way.

Manager Joe Torre said he wants to field his opening-day lineup on Thursday when the Dodgers face the Angels at Dodger Stadium. Russell Martin still has the flu and might have to be held out.

Reserve catcher Danny Ardoin cleared waivers and was outrighted to triple-A Albuquerque. He has the right to decline the assignment.

Here's the Dodgers' lineup today:
Juan Pierre CF
Chin-lung Hu SS
Manny Ramirez LF
Doug Mientkiewicz 1B
Blake DeWitt 3B
Xavier Paul RF
A.J. Ellis C
Juan Castro 2B
Hiroki Kuroda RHP

-- Dylan Hernandez

Dodgers notes: Hu is the 'star of the spring'

TUCSON -- Middle infielder Chin-lung Hu, who was set back by blurred vision and batted only .181 in the majors last year, drew praise this morning from Manager Joe Torre.

"Hu, to me, has been the star of the spring," Torre said. "Coming into this spring, I really didn't know what to expect. This kid, his whole demeanor has changed."

Hu is competing for a reserve role. He and Blake DeWitt, who is also competing for an opening-day roster spot, could be helped by the fact that they're on the 40-man roster, unlike fellow utility infield candidate Juan Castro.

Torre said he didn't want to retard the development of Hu and DeWitt by sitting them on the bench instead of getting them more at-bats in Triple-A.

Will Ohman, the Dodgers' newly signed situational left-hander, is scheduled to pitch today. Ohman admitted feeling "strange" signing so close to the start of the season. He revealed that in November, he was offered a two-year deal by his former club, the Atlanta Braves, that was far more lucrative than the one-year, $1.35-million package he signed with the Dodgers. "Initially, there was regret," Ohman said.

Mark Loretta (groin) will take at-bats in a minor-league game Wednesday instead of playing in the Dodgers' Cactus League finale against the San Francisco Giants as was originally planned.

Jason Schmidt will probably remain in Arizona to work out when the Dodgers break camp, Torre said.
The Dodgers are facing the Arizona Diamondbacks today. Here's their lineup:

Juan Pierre LF
Brad Ausmus C
Andre Ethier RF
James Loney 1B
Matt Kemp CF
Casey Blake 3B
Blake DeWitt SS
Chin-lung Hu 2B
James McDonald RHP

-- Dylan Hernandez

Dodgers notes: Russell Martin to miss final game at Camelback Ranch

Martin PHOENIX -- Russell Martin came down with the flu and was taken out of the Dodgers' lineup for their final home game of the Cactus League season, today  against the Oakland A's.

A few other quick notes:

  • Manager Joe Torre basically said that Jeff Weaver would make the opening-day roster.
  • Top prospect Ivan DeJesus Jr., who broke his leg this spring, said he would play again this season. Speaking to reporters for the first time since his injury, DeJesus said, "People are saying I'm going to be out the whole season, but that's wrong."
  • Juan Pierre will play in the Dodgers' final two Cactus League games, which are on Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • Clayton Kershaw will be stretched out to 95 pitches in his start today.
  • Mark Loretta (groin) will return to game action on Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • Nomar Garciaparra is batting third and playing first base for the A's today.
  • Today's game can be seen on MLB.com.

Today's lineup:
Rafael Furcal SS
Orlando Hudson 2B
Manny Ramirez LF
Andre Ethier RF
Matt Kemp CF
James Loney 1B
Casey Blake 3B
Brad Ausmus C
Clayton Kershaw LHP

-- Dylan Hernandez

Photo: Russell Martin runs to first base during an exhibition game against Korea on March 12. Credit: Lisa Blumenfeld / Getty Images

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