Dodgers Report: Casey Close

Dodgers pursuit of Masahiro Tanaka advances (slowly)

January, 8, 2014
1/08/14
4:03
PM PT
LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said the Dodgers continue to engage the agent for Japanese pitching sensation Masahiro Tanaka, whose major league future figures to be decided in the next couple of weeks.

Teams willing to pay the $20 million posting fee to Tanaka’s Japanese team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, have until Jan. 24 to reach a deal with the 25-year-old right-hander. Colletti said he doesn’t necessarily expect it to take that long before Tanaka makes his decision. Competition for Tanaka, who went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last year, figures to be intense, with the New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs and, perhaps, Seattle Mariners among the other interested clubs.

Colletti said he has had a couple of conversations already with Tanaka’s agent, Casey Close, who also happens to represent Dodgers pitchers Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke.

“I talked to Casey as soon as they announced he was going to be posted and as soon as they announced Casey would represent him,” Colletti said. “Obviously, Casey and I go back quite a while. They’re in a feeling-out process. They’re trying to learn about different cities, different teams, different markets, how teams are constructed going forward. You know, it’s a big decision for the player, too, so we’ve had those types of conversations and we’ll continue to see where it goes.”

ESPNNewYork’s Ian O’Connor quoted one Yankee source saying that club would “be heavily involved with Tanaka, very aggressive and at the top of the market, but won't get reckless and stupid,” which might be a fair characterization of the Dodgers’ position as well. Tanaka is expected to command a contract in excess of $100 million, plus the posting fee.

Speaking of his off-season approach in general, Colletti gave a hint that, if the Dodgers don’t sign Tanaka, their major off-season moves could be behind them. Aside from the Tanaka discussions, Colletti’s other priority is to find a utility infielder.

“We like to strike early. We don’t cast a wide net and then hope to bring in two or three out of 40,” Colletti said.

Zack Greinke may have found his comfort zone in L.A.

December, 12, 2012
12/12/12
10:56
AM PT
Ever since Zack Greinke admitted to dealing with social anxiety disorder and depression six years ago, it has become a source of occasional derision from detractors and consternation from supporters.

Was he someone who couldn’t handle pitching under the pressure of a pennant race or in a big city? Would his issues resurface and cause him to bolt his team again? Let’s get a bit of perspective, shall we.

When he received his diagnosis, Greinke was 22 years old, a prodigy entering his third major-league season, coming off a rough year and having no fun whatsoever playing baseball. Always an introvert, he wasn’t enjoying being around his teammates and was clashing with the Kansas City Royals' pitching coach, Guy Hansen.

Now Greinke is 29, the richest right-handed pitcher in baseball and entering the highest-profile phase of his career, as the standard bearer for the Dodgers’ rush back to contention. You never know how players will react to heightened pressure -- who would have thought Albert Pujols would bend under it? -- but there are some things to like about where Greinke is.

Pitching 30 miles from Dodger Stadium at the end of last season, Greinke was 5-0 with a 2.04 ERA in his final eight starts with the Angels, at that team’s most critical moment of need. He also looked anything but uncomfortable speaking to a throng of media members at Tuesday afternoon’s introduction at Dodger Stadium.

“This doesn't bother me,” Greinke said. “What bothers me is one at a time and answering the same questions over again. The answers are just going to get worse, each time you ask it."

He smiled. He was blunt, friendly. He complimented Dodgers’ executives. He looked far more comfortable than he had even four months earlier, when he arrived in Anaheim and declined an opening statement, making scant eye contact at his introductory news conference.

Washington Nationals pitcher Dan Haren got to know Greinke in Anaheim at the end of last year and the two quickly became friends, sharing a love for golf, good wine and hitting. Haren said the Dodgers are lucky to have Greinke.

“I think Zack is a bit of an introvert,” Haren said. “That said, I think most gifted people tend to be. He doesn’t really care what people think of him, but he’s very confident in what he can do.”

What impressed Haren about Greinke’s pitching was the rare combination of repertoire and approach.

“His scouting reports are very statistically based, but most pitchers with exceptional stuff can’t harness it,” Haren said. “He can attack hitters with ‘plus’ stuff and put the ball where he wants it. It’s a special combination.”

Greinke admits he’s “more serious than loose,” and he may not win the prize for the best dugout gag. He might not even exchange a lot of idle chit-chat with his teammates. But worries about his ability to handle big-city pressure may have been overblown. Agent Casey Close said it wasn’t much of an issue in talking to teams. Aside from calls out of New York or Boston, they had a willingness to listen to anyone.

“He’s a very unique individual,” Close said. “He’s got a ton of personality, he’s very competitive and I think he’s found a way of bouncing around, from the Midwest, back out here, and he’s found a way to find that comfort zone and be successful.”

Besides, Californians have a reputation for accepting people who are different, so maybe this is where he belonged all along.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Clayton Kershaw
WINS ERA SO IP
21 1.77 239 198
OTHER LEADERS
BAY. Puig .296
HRA. Gonzalez 27
RBIA. Gonzalez 116
RY. Puig 92
OPSY. Puig .863
ERAC. Kershaw 1.77
SOC. Kershaw 239