Friday, March 30, 2012
More Dodgers-Brewers fireworks
By Tony Jackson
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- For the second spring training in a row, there were tense moments in a Cactus League game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers on Friday, this time the result of three batters being hit by pitches and another getting brushed back before the plate umpire warned both benches in the sixth inning.
Nothing much happened after that, though, and the Brewers went on to pound a Dodgers split squad 9-4 before 5,714 at Camelback Ranch. The Dodgers won their other game, 6-3 over the Chicago Cubs before 10,102 at HoHoKam Park in Mesa.
The whole thing began when Jerry Hairston, the Dodgers' first batter of the game, was plunked by Brewers reliever Francisco Rodriguez, who actually started the game but pitched only one inning on an afternoon when the Brewers went with all relievers. Dodgers pitcher Chris Capuano then hit Brewers right fielder Norichika Aoki with a pitch in the second, and Dodgers first baseman Juan Rivera later was hit by the Brewers' Marco Estrada leading off the bottom of the fifth.
When Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun, the reigning National League Most Valuable Player and the target of boos throughout the six innings he played because of his offseason positive test for performance-enhancing drugs -- he appealed the test and had his suspension overturned on a technicality -- came to the plate with two outs and none on in the sixth, he had to back away from an inside pitch from Capuano, at which point plate umpire Mike Lusky issued the warning.
Afterward, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly declined to say much on the matter.
"Nothing happened," Mattingly said. "Nobody came out. It was OK. It was fine. It's spring training. Guys are getting tired."
Last year, in a Dodgers-Brewers game at Maryvale Baseball Park, a Dodgers non-roster reliever named Roman Colon had words with Brewers infielder Casey McGehee on the way off the field between innings. This prompted Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder to come running out of the Brewers dugout in anticipation of a possible brawl, but order was quickly restored without anything close to a real incident.
The game highlight was Andre Ethier, who continued to sizzle, going 2-for-4 with a two-run double and a two-run homer. He is now hitting .400 this spring, with 15 of his 18 hits having gone for extra bases. Oh, and Matt Kemp went 1-for-3 with a walk and scored twice, but didn't strike out, cutting his strikeouts from one every 2.6 plate appearances to one every 2.8 PAs. ... The highlight of the other game was a two-run triple by Dee Gordon off veteran reliever Manuel Corpas, breaking a 1-1 tie in the seventh inning. It was Gordon's third triple of the spring, and he is hitting .382.
Mattingly has an idea that by the standards of slow-to-change Major League Baseball is probably revolutionary but otherwise sounds like simple common sense.
"I'm lobbying for the last week (of spring training) being night games," he said. "It would get us back on a schedule where we play night games during the week and day games on the weekends like the regular season. It would also give guys a chance to get their stuff together for when they get [to Los Angeles for the season], a chance to make the phone calls and everything else they need to do [during the day]."
Mattingly said he has discussed his idea with Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti and that Colletti thought it made sense. Although MLB makes the Cactus League schedule, the teams themselves set the start time for their home games. However, the Dodgers' situation would be complicated by the fact they share a complex, so the joint venture that runs Camelback Ranch presumably would want some say in the start times for games there.
Mattingly said he spoke by phone with incoming team president Stan Kasten for the first time since it was announced that a group headed by Magic Johnson and largely funded by Guggenheim Capital chief executive officer Mark Walter.
"He said he plans on being around a lot," Mattingly said. "Basically, he wants to do anything he can do help us."
The Dodgers (13-12-4) play the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday at Talking Stick in Scottsdale. Reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw will make his final start before taking the ball for the season opener on Thursday at San Diego, and his outing will be shortened to around 40 pitches.