Dodgers Report: Don Mattingly

2015 Position Outlook: Outfielders

November, 3, 2014
Nov 3
10:57
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Dodgers WinRichard Mackson/USA TODAY SportsThe Dodgers will probably be looking to move at least one outfielder between now and February.
LOS ANGELES -- Andrew Friedman had been on the job less than a week when somebody lobbed the question at him that his predecessor had been unhappily dealing with for the previous eight months: what to do with the surplus of outfielders?

“I’ve been asked that question as if it’s a problem. If it is, it’s a tremendous problem to have,” Friedman said. “There are a lot of really talented players who happen to play the outfield here. We have to look through it and figure out what roster puts us in the position to have the most success next year.”

It may not be a problem for either Ned Colletti’s regime or Friedman’s -- depth is one of the Holy Grails in baseball -- but it was a problem for Andre Ethier, who barely played in the second half, and for manager Don Mattingly, who said repeatedly he wasn’t crazy about the headaches of keeping the benched players from grumbling.

Plus, it’s getting more crowded, with younger players bumping their heads on a set outfield. After a season in which he had a 1.017 OPS at Triple-A Albuquerque, Joc Pederson will show up at spring training with every intention of making the major league roster. The Dodgers still have Scott Van Slyke, who slugged .524. Even Alex Guerrero, once groomed as an everyday second baseman, now plays some outfield.

Oh, and one of the Dodgers’ fastest-rising prospects, Scott Schebler, who hit 28 home runs at Double-A, also plays the outfield.

Pederson has played 13 games in the Domincan winter league and is batting .260 with a home run, two doubles and a .339 on-base percentage. He also has 21 strikeouts in 50 at-bats a few months after striking out 149 times in 445 minor-league at-bats. After a slow start, he is nine for his last 30.

So, unless Friedman thins the position, the Dodgers will have six players show up at Camelback Ranch in a few months with designs on playing three positions. So, whether Friedman admits it, everyone in baseball knows he’ll be looking to move at least one outfielder between now and February if for no other reason than to save dollars he could apply to another area of the roster.

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The prime directive: Get younger

October, 10, 2014
Oct 10
12:13
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LOS ANGELES – Whether the Los Angeles Dodgers retain general manager Ned Colletti or fire him, the team is on a mission this offseason to find a way to get a younger roster while remaining competitive and to avoid signing any more bad long-term contracts. When you think about it, that’s kind of the same thing.

The Dodgers figure to be in the market for a starting pitcher this winter, but they are unlikely to pursue anybody who would receive a qualifying offer from their current team and thus cost the Dodgers a draft pick, a source indicated. In other words, they’ll be searching for No. 4 and 5 starters (think Dan Haren) rather than somebody who would slide in front of Hyun-Jin Ryu. The payroll figures to go down, perhaps below the $200 million mark.

And don’t be surprised if the Dodgers simply let Hanley Ramirez go without submitting a qualifying offer, which this winter is $15.3 million. Of the Dodgers’ eight regular position players to end the season, six were 30 or older. Catcher A.J. Ellis will turn 34 in April. First baseman Adrian Gonzalez will turn 33 in May. The Dodgers might have to live with the growing pains of young shortstop Erisbel Arruebarrena and, if they can unload any outfield contracts, the growing pains of Joc Pederson in the outfield.

The difficult task of slowing the aging process – on the roster, not in the human body – was a major topic of discussion in the team’s first day of organizational meetings, said manager Don Mattingly.

“You see certain teams and, all of a sudden, you’re old,” Mattingly said. “In baseball, it’s tough to say that because you see 32, 33 in baseball and all of a sudden, that’s old again. It always has been besides one little 10-year or 12-year period when it didn’t seem to matter. Just as an organization, I think it’s something you pay attention to. It’s what ownership and [president] Stan Kasten talked about from the beginning.

“You want to have guys coming all the time. You don’t want to have to get into the free agency.”

In other words, the Dodgers are terrified of becoming the New York Yankees or Philadelphia Phillies.

It’s fair to say the Dodgers don’t have “guys coming all the time.” If they did, they wouldn’t have had an incredibly expensive bullpen that essentially cost them the NL Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. There are, though, signs of progress in the farm system, the team believes, with Pederson knocking on the door, Corey Seager perhaps a factor next season and – in a longshot scenario – Julio Urias making his mark as a teenager next year. Outfield prospect Scott Schebler also is beginning to make his move in the organization and his name came up Thursday.

The fragile state of the Dodgers’ rebuilding farm system was the reason the team held onto its prospects rather than trade for a pitcher at the deadline. Ironically, that’s probably part of the reason Colletti is in such a vulnerable position.
ST. LOUIS -- Hyun-Jin Ryu admits he'll probably be a bit anxious when he makes his Game 3 start Monday night at Busch Stadium, understandable since it will be just his third postseason start -- his first on the road -- and he hasn't made a pitch to a major league hitter in more than three weeks.

The rest of the team might be less anxious than he is.

"If it wasn't Hyun-Jin, I would probably be a lot more nervous," Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.

[+] EnlargeHyun-Jin Ryu
AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast"I feel very confident right now. My arm feels really good." Ryu said of his Game 3 assignment through an interpreter. "My shoulder feels really strong, and I have a pretty good feeling I'll be able to put in a good game tomorrow."
After two seasons in close quarters with their South Korean left-hander, the Dodgers have a pretty good read on what Ryu can and cannot do. He often operates best on extra rest, has at times fought them on having to throw bullpen sessions between starts and rarely looks like he's using maximum effort on the mound. Maybe that's the reason he can miss so much time and come back without showing much, if any, rust.

It's pretty uncanny. If there's any lesson from the first two times Ryu was out with an injury this season, it’s that he'll likely be on a pitch limit somewhere in the 80s -- which could prove problematic with the Dodgers' bullpen problems -- but he might be as sharp as ever.

He missed a little more than three weeks with the same injury, a sore shoulder, in early May and returned to pitch six strong innings on May 21. He threw 89 pitches and allowed two runs on nine hits, striking out nine against the New York Mets. Ryu would go 4-0 with a 3.20 ERA in his next four starts.

He went 18 days between starts with a strained gluteus muscle in August and returned to pitch seven four-hit innings in a 14-6 win over the San Diego Padres. He went 2-0 with a 1.98 ERA in the first two starts back before having to leave his last start, in San Francisco, with more soreness in his shoulder.

Ryu said he feels better than either of the previous times he bounced back from injuries to go straight to the mound.

"I feel very confident right now," he said through an interpreter at the Dodgers' optional workout at Busch Stadium on Sunday evening. "My arm feels really good. My shoulder feels really strong, and I have a pretty good feeling I'll be able to put in a good game tomorrow."

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Van Slykes have Cards-Dodgers rivalry covered

October, 1, 2014
Oct 1
10:49
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LOS ANGELES -- For nearly 30 years, some Los Angeles Dodgers fans have been bitter that Tommy Lasorda let Tom Niedenfuer pitch to Jack Clark with first base open. The man on deck saw it differently.

Andy Van Slyke was only 24 years old then and he remembers that postseason as if it were “vapor, here one minute, then gone,” but he had enough mindfulness to surmise that particularly situation clearly. It was the ninth inning in Game 6 of the 1985 National League Championship Series and, even if Lasorda walked Clark, Van Slyke knew he wouldn’t have gotten to hit. Van Slyke had mashed a three-run home run off Neidenfuer the season before and left-handed reliever Jerry Reuss was getting warm in the bullpen.

[+] EnlargeScott Van Slyke
Cameron Spencer/Getty ImagesScott Van Slyke will be ready if his number is called against his hometown Cardinals.
“I was dejected, because I knew if Reuss came in the game, I would not have had an opportunity to hit there. Tito Landrum would have pinch hit,” Van Slyke said. “In one sense, you could say I’m the reason Jack Clark hit that home run. Ha ha.”

The St. Louis Cardinals have always had the Chicago Cubs. That rivalry, which divides the state of Illinois and a large swath of the adjoining states, dates back about 139 years, when the teams were known as the Brown Stockings and the White Stockings. The Los Angeles Dodgers have always had the San Francisco Giants. Their rivalry goes back about 125 years, when they were the only two professional teams in New York.

But just below those regional rivalries, the Cardinals and Dodgers, two of the strongest organizations in the National League, have tended to get in each other's way just as they have in recent seasons. In 2009, the Dodgers swept the Cardinals out of the National League Division Series; in 2012, the Cardinals outlasted the Dodgers for the wild card; Last season, the Cardinals beat the Dodgers in six games to capture the National League Championship Series.

“That makes the rivalry -- two quality organizations with great baseball fan bases, historically and in the present day,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.

Dodgers outfielder Scott Van Slyke was born a little less than a year after Clark’s fateful home run. Before his first birthday, his dad had been traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in a deal that brought All-Star catcher Tony Pena to St. Louis, but Andy Van Slyke kept his offseason home in suburban St. Louis and Scott attended John Burroughs High in West St. Louis County. The Dodgers drafted him from there in the 14th round of the 2005 draft.

For the second year in a row, he’ll have the opportunity to sleep in his own bed during the postseason.

“The only thing I didn’t like was figuring out tickets,” Scott Van Slyke said. “I think we finally decided we’re only going to give them to immediate family.”

A year ago, Van Slyke barely played in the postseason. He pinch ran in one game and played a few innings in the outfield as a replacement for Andre Ethier, who was hobbled by an ankle injury. Van Slyke never got an at-bat. His role expanded considerably this season despite the Dodgers’ glut of well-paid outfielders. Mattingly used Van Slyke virtually every time the Dodgers faced a left-handed starting pitcher, and Van Slyke thrived. He hit .297, smashed 11 home runs and had a .910 OPS. Not bad for a guy who had been taken off the team’s 40-man roster and not invited to spring training two seasons ago. Andy Van Slyke, who was the sixth overall pick the year he was drafted by St. Louis, watched his son’s climb back to the organization’s good graces with pride. Andy Van Slyke is now the Seattle Mariners' first-base coach.

“When a player, even if it’s not your son, goes through what Scott went through, you have immense respect for it. Having been personally attached to it, it’s more meaningful to me,” Andy said. “Not every player could do that. It takes a special kind of will.”

If Scott Van Slyke is to impact this series and punish his hometown team, it’s probably not going to happen until the latter innings. The Cardinals don’t have a left-handed starting pitcher. They do have three left-handed relievers, if Kevin Siegrist makes the postseason roster, so Van Slyke’s role figures to be reduced to pinch-hitting duties.

“I’ll just hit in the cage, watch video and be ready, same as all year,” Scott Van Slyke said.

It’s October. Players have to stay ready. Whether the opportunity ever arises is sometimes beyond their control. Van Slyke’s dad could testify to that.

Will Dee Gordon run on Yadier Molina?

September, 30, 2014
Sep 30
3:27
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LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Dodgers first-base coach Davey Lopes was not at Tuesday’s workout at Dodger Stadium as he had some personal business to take care of, but at this point of his career, Dee Gordon probably doesn’t need any final tips on base stealing.

“As the year went on, I got better as a base stealer,” Gordon said.

That much is evident by Gordon’s 64 stolen bases, most in the major leagues. But the threat of Gordon’s speed, which could be an important factor in a series with two dominant pitching staffs, is a question considering the St. Louis Cardinals have the best-throwing catcher in baseball, Yadier Molina. He threw out 48 percent of the runners who tried to steal, leading the majors for the fourth time.

Gordon’s challenges in this series go beyond Molina’s powerful right arm. Gordon has been dealing with tightness in his hip and Cardinals pitchers are adept at holding runners and delivering Molina the ball quickly to give him a chance to throw out runners.

“There are some catchers who don’t throw at all and you can run on them,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “But the Cardinals have a lot of guys who get the ball to home plate. They’re pretty well-schooled on being quick, using slide steps, all those types of things. Usually, a pitching staff will neutralize the running game more than the catcher himself.”

Regardless of how many bases he steals, Gordon’s presence in the lineup will be important to the Dodgers. He played 148 games at second base, batted .289 and led the league with 12 triples. He makes their lineup more versatile and takes pressure off the middle-of-the-order hitters if he’s able to take extra bases and score on singles rather than putting pressure on them to produce extra-base hits.

A year ago, after spending most of the season at Triple-A, Gordon made the Dodgers’ postseason roster as a pinch runner, but was a non-factor. He was thrown out by Atlanta Braves catcher Gerald Laird in his only stolen base attempt of the NLDS. He never attempted to steal on Molina after pinch running for Adrian Gonzalez in Game 1 of the NLCS.

Gordon said he won’t let Molina’s reputation take away his aggressiveness on the bases.

“No, man, got to play my game the way I play my game,” Gordon said.

Looks like Kershaw would pitch on short rest

September, 30, 2014
Sep 30
2:57
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LOS ANGELES -- It appears quite likely that the Los Angeles Dodgers would bring Clayton Kershaw back on three days’ rest if their National League Division Series with the St. Louis Cardinals lasts four games.

For one thing, there’s a precedent. Kershaw did just that with the Dodgers leading 2-1 over the Atlanta Braves last season, going six strong innings in their 4-3 win that sent them to the NLCS. For another, Kershaw threw a simulated game Sunday, four days after his final start of the regular season, a move seemingly intended to get his body used to short rest.

So, if the Dodgers would go to Kershaw while leading a five-game series, they surely would go to him in an elimination game, right? It seems to make sense, but Dodgers manager Don Mattingly wasn’t giving any hints Tuesday after the team’s short workout at Dodger Stadium.

“We wouldn’t even think about it until we see what would happen in Game 1 or what kind of situation we’ll be in, so that’s not even a question that we even consider,” Mattingly said.

Hyun-Jin Ryu is scheduled to throw 45 pitches in a three-inning simulated game Wednesday in anticipation of pitching Game 3 Monday in St. Louis. The Dodgers closed Wednesday’s workout to the media, likely in an effort to keep the Cardinals in the dark as to their plans for the rotation. If Ryu pitches Game 3 and Kershaw goes in Game 4, the Dodgers likely would use No. 4 starter Dan Haren as their long reliever, which could free an extra bench spot for defensive specialist Darwin Barney or Joc Pederson.

Dodgers not holding grudge over hit batters

September, 30, 2014
Sep 30
2:55
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LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers have said they didn’t view it as intentional when St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Joe Kelly hit Hanley Ramirez in the ribs in the first inning of the teams’ playoff series last season.

“When Joe Kelly throws the ball, it goes everywhere all the time,” was how Dodgers manager Don Mattingly put it Tuesday.

[+] EnlargeRamirez
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty ImagesHanley Ramirez has been hit by Cardinals pitchers a couple of times recently.
But some Dodgers did view it as the pivotal moment of that series, because Ramirez was their hottest hitter and had largely carried them beginning in June all the way through their first-round playoff win over the Atlanta Braves. He played with a cracked rib in five of the six games against the Cardinals, but was ineffective, singling twice in 15 at-bats.

So, they took exception when Carlos Martinez hit Ramirez with a 98-mph fastball July 20 of this season in St. Louis, the last time the teams have seen each other heading into their National League Division Series that starts Friday. The next inning in that game, Clayton Kershaw drilled Matt Holliday in the lower back. He didn’t do much to hide the fact that it was a retaliatory measure.

“It's tough when you see Hanley get hit like that so many times. It's one thing to miss in, but when you're missing up and in at a guy's face like that, that's really scary,” Kershaw told reporters that night. “When you throw that hard, you need to have a better idea where the ball's going.”

Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal hit Ramirez again in the ninth inning of that game, raising the question of whether the teams have some unfinished business heading into Friday’s opener of the series, with aces Kershaw and Adam Wainwright on the mound. Kelly was traded in July to the Boston Red Sox in the deal that brought John Lackey to St. Louis. According to Mattingly and at least one player, the bad blood of that series is a non-factor in this one.

“We’ve had all year long if we wanted revenge or anything like that,” Mattingly said. “We’re trying to win games. It’s really not a concern if somebody gets hit. You can’t go to the plate worrying about getting hit. You can’t go to the mound thinking, ‘I’ve got to hit somebody and establish.’ We all come to play.”

Said Dodgers outfielder Scott Van Slyke, “That’s just part of the game. You hit one of our guys, we’ll protect them. Just let them know you understand what’s going on. But I think the playoffs are the playoffs. Nobody wants to give up free bases.”

Dodgers embark on postseason riding high

September, 28, 2014
Sep 28
6:29
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LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers held a postseason rally following their 10-5 win over the Colorado Rockies on Sunday afternoon, with about half of the 48,278 fans in attendance sticking around to get whipped into a frenzy for the upcoming playoffs. The final speaker, fittingly, was Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda, who recently celebrated his 87th birthday.

"I think we're going to get to the Fall Classic," Lasorda bellowed, "and then the Big Dodger in the sky can take me away!"

[+] EnlargeMatt Kemp
Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY SportsKemp's 16 second-half homers suggest the enigmatic star is healthy and focused to anchor a deep October run for the Dodgers.
The Dodgers are hopeful one of those things comes true, but there are a few preliminary steps before they reach their first World Series since Lasorda stepped down. Step 1 is beating the St. Louis Cardinals, the team they'll play in the National League Division Series starting Friday and a team that beat them out for a wild-card berth two seasons ago, then knocked them out of the playoffs last October.

"It's kind of turned into a pretty good rivalry," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "They've got a good organization, they play good baseball, they have good pitching. They're a tough team to play."

But the Cardinals, too, will be dealing with a different, seemingly more formidable team this time around. For one thing, Matt Kemp won't be on crutches this time. For another thing, Hanley Ramirez won’t be trying to play with a cracked rib, as he did in every inning he played in that series but one, and Andre Ethier, if he plays, won't be hobbling around on a bad ankle.

"We're pretty healthy right now, I guess," Zack Greinke said. "That’s good."

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Rapid Reaction: Dodgers 10, Rockies 5

September, 28, 2014
Sep 28
4:25
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LOS ANGELES -- It has yet to be determined whether the Los Angeles Dodgers can reach their first World Series in 26 years, but the team has made steady progress lately in resuscitating its standing in the National League.

The Dodgers won their 94th game on the final day of the regular season Sunday, pounding the Colorado Rockies 10-5. That marked five straight seasons of improvement for the Dodgers (four of them under manager Don Mattingly).

They also drew an announced crowd of 48,278 to give them a grand total of 3,782,337 fans this season, the second-highest attendance in Los Angeles history behind 2007.

How it happened: It couldn't have gone much better for a team whose focus was on a game five days away.

Zack Greinke got a nice five-inning tune-up for his playoff start, likely Saturday, striking out six and allowing a run on four hits. Adrian Gonzalez and Matt Kemp padded their numbers before getting the rest of the game off. Juan Uribe got to strut around playing manager while wearing the jerseys of Mattingly and Tommy Lasorda in the same game.

And the Dodgers still easily beat the fourth-place Rockies, who lost their 96th game.

Hits: In a different era, one less inundated with statistics, Gonzalez might have won the National League MVP award. Voters used to routinely use RBIs as a leading measure of a player's value and would typically dismiss pitchers for the award. Now, it might be difficult for Gonzalez to crack the top five, but he has been a crucial part of the Dodgers' offense since snapping out of his funk last month. Gonzalez led the National League with 116 RBIs. Since the All-Star break, Gonzalez (53) and Kemp (52) finished one-two in that department. Kemp leads the league in home runs since the break (16).

Misses: It would have been nice if A.J. Ellis had gotten a bunch of hits in this last series or two, boosted his batting average above .200 and taken some confidence into the playoffs, but none of that happened. Ellis was 0-for-3, went 2-for-14 on the homestand and finished with a .191 average. He finished last in the majors among catchers with at least 325 plate appearances in batting average, home runs (three) and RBIs (25). On the other hand, he was a respectable 14th in on-base percentage (.323) and had an outstanding 3.26 catcher's ERA. Though many of his offensive numbers were bleak, the Dodgers will gladly take their chances with Ellis behind the plate in the playoffs.

Stat of the game: Greinke (17-8) won 17 games for the first time in his career. On the other hand, the year he won the American League Cy Young, in 2009, he had a 2.16 ERA as opposed to a 2.71 ERA this season.

Up next: The Dodgers are off Monday and have workouts Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in anticipation of their first-round playoff matchup with the St. Louis Cardinals that starts Friday at Dodger Stadium.

Hyun-Jin Ryu makes progress in bullpen session

September, 28, 2014
Sep 28
2:09
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LOS ANGELES -- Pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu threw about 40 pitches in the bullpen before Sunday’s game with the Colorado Rockies and said he felt no discomfort in his left shoulder, which has been sore enough to keep him off the mound since Sept. 12.

“Everything worked pretty well,” Ryu said through his interpreter. “It was a very positive result.”

The next step is for Ryu to pitch a simulated game Wednesday at Dodger Stadium. If that goes well, it appears he will start one of the games in the Dodgers’ NLDS series with the St. Louis Cardinals, likely Game 3 on Oct. 6 game at Busch Stadium.

The Dodgers also feel Dee Gordon will be able to play in Game 1 Friday at Dodger Stadium. He had to leave Saturday’s game with hip discomfort, something he has dealt with at other times this season.

“I’m optimistic Dee’s going to be ready to go on Friday,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.

Dee Gordon leaves game, will undergo MRI on right hip

September, 27, 2014
Sep 27
11:34
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LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Dee Gordon was scheduled to undergo a precautionary MRI on his right hip after he left in the first inning Saturday night against the visiting Colorado Rockies, a game the Dodgers eventually won 6-5 in 12 innings.

Gordon left after grounding out to short in his first at-bat. He was bothered by a similar ailment earlier this month while the team was in Colorado and missed a game.

"We feel like it’s nothing major," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said after the game.

Gordon is finishing up his best regular season in the major leagues, hitting .289 with 64 stolen bases and 92 runs scored. He was selected to his first NL All-Star team over the summer.

Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez also departed after fouling a ball off his left knee in the fourth inning, though he was scheduled to play only part of the game anyway. Ramirez went down immediately and writhed in pain before getting up and resuming his at bat. He eventually walked and was quickly replaced by a pinch runner.

"It didn’t look very good when he was rolling around like that," Mattingly said.

Mattingly said he expects Ramirez will be fine and wasn't planning to play him in Sunday's regular-season finale anyway.

Rookie Carlos Frias' vital relief work helps erase memory of nightmare in Colorado

September, 27, 2014
Sep 27
11:19
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LOS ANGELES -- Same team, different mound, much better result.

Los Angeles Dodgers rookie right-hander Carlos Frias made up for his collapse against the Colorado Rockies 10 days earlier by throwing three shutout innings of relief against the same team Saturday night, which gave the Dodgers time to regroup, beat the visitors 6-5 in 12 innings and earn Frias his first major league victory.

"The concentration was different," Frias said of his second time against the Rockies. "At this level, you have to be ready every day."

Frias said he felt much more comfortable back on the mound at Dodger Stadium than he did Sept. 17 in Denver, where he allowed eight runs and 10 hits in two-thirds of an inning as the starting pitcher in a 16-2 loss to the Rockies.

That earned him the distinction of being the first pitcher in the modern baseball era to allow at least 10 hits in a start while recording fewer than three outs.

"I know the pitches are going to work here," Frias said. "The location was the difference."

Frias, who will turn 25 next month, was called upon in the 10th inning after L.A. relievers had surrendered solo home runs in the eighth and ninth innings to draw the Rockies even at five. He proceeded to retire the first eight batters he faced -- five by strikeout -- before finishing the 12th inning with a fly out.

In the meantime, the Dodgers continued to make outs in the batter's box -- 19 straight until Scott Van Slyke singled with one out in the 12th, moved to second on a hit by pitch, stole third and came home on a wild pitch.

"Carlos was amazing," said catcher A.J. Ellis, one of the few Dodgers who didn't play Saturday night. "Getting us through those three innings and giving us a chance to win the game."

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was equally impressed with his young right-hander and went all the way back to how he reacted after he was hammered in Colorado earlier in the month. Whether his effort Saturday will be enough to earn Frias a spot on the playoff roster is yet to be seen, but Mattingly said he's definitely in the picture.

"There are still spots that are open," he said. "We're going to continue throwing guys into spots to see what we'll get."

Hyun-Jin Ryu throws off mound; Dodgers' playoff roster talks 'dragging out a bit'

September, 26, 2014
Sep 26
6:33
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LOS ANGELES -- Now that the Los Angeles Dodgers have added a division title to the playoff berth they clinched a week earlier, the postseason roster has quickly emerged as the primary item on their checklist.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was peppered with such inquiries before Friday night’s series opener against the visiting Colorado Rockies. Los Angeles has three games left in the regular season before opening the playoffs next Friday against an undetermined opponent.

Mattingly said he has been huddling with general manager Ned Colletti and his staff, but cementing a playoff roster remains a work in progress.

“We’re having discussions, part of which are kind of dragging out a bit,” he said.

Whether to keep an extra bullpen pitcher or an additional position player is typically the toughest decision for playoff-bound teams, and that’s held true for the Dodgers in their second straight season as NL West champions.

A major snag in the postseason landscape is the status of left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu, who’s trying to come back from an ailing throwing shoulder that has kept him out since pitching one inning on Sept. 12.

Ryu (14-7, 3.38 ERA) took a big step forward Friday afternoon, however, throwing off a mound for the first time since the injury.

Mattingly said Ryu was “comfortable” during the bullpen session of about 30 pitches, and the Dodgers plan to bring their No. 3 starter back for a “full-blown bullpen” on Sunday. If he emerges from that workout with no further setbacks, Ryu will throw in a simulated game some time next week.

“All those things still have to be crossed off,” Mattingly said. “So we have to plan accordingly -- with him, without him, if can he start, if he can’t. All those steps are still up in the air, and that’s going to depend on what happens over these next few days.”

As for the pitchers and players on the postseason roster bubble, Mattingly said the next three days could make or break some opportunities. Friday’s starting lineup is stacked with regulars, with only Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez and A.J. Ellis not among the starting nine.

“There’s definitely going to be disappointment with certain guys if they’re not on the roster,” Mattingly said. “We’re going to have to make some tough decisions.”

Series preview: Rockies at Dodgers

September, 26, 2014
Sep 26
9:40
AM PT
LOS ANGELES -- If not for the fact that they couldn’t use ace Clayton Kershaw in Game 1, the Los Angeles Dodgers would probably just as soon have the playoffs start Friday. Instead, they’ll be starting a nearly meaningless series with the Colorado Rockies.

With their lineup as healthy as it has been all season, the Dodgers have finally shown the kind of offensive depth and destructiveness they envisioned when they traded for all those hitters last year.

They have scored an average of 7.5 runs per game since that 17-0 shellacking of the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on Sept. 13. Now, they’ll have three games against the Rockies, which might feature as many players from Triple-A Albuquerque as Dodgers, and then four days off before beginning their division series on Friday.

So, the danger is that a hot lineup has time to cool down.

“None of that stuff is going to matter, because there’s such a long layoff this year,” Adrian Gonzalez said amid the clamor of the Dodgers’ clinching party Wednesday night. “It’s just about preparing right and being ready. Winning Game 1 is going to be huge.”

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly will be trying to strike the right balance this weekend of getting his injury-prone hitters off their feet as much as possible while not affecting their feel at the plate. A year ago, he had a similar problem because the Dodgers clinched with nine games to spare, diving into the Arizona Diamondbacks' pool on Sept. 19.

“We were able to rest guys," Mattingly said, "and you don’t know if that’s good or bad."

Fans might want Mattingly to push for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, but that makes little sense considering the Washington Nationals need to win just one of their last four games to clinch it. The Dodgers already have secured home field for the first round unless the Pittsburgh Pirates overtake the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central. The Cardinals are a game up, hold the tiebreaker and play the worst team in the majors, the Diamondbacks, this weekend.

The only real question remaining: If the Cardinals clinch in Arizona, do they jump in the pool?
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Dodgers took some heat, particularly from the denizens of the Grand Canyon State, for taking a dip in the Arizona Diamondbacks' pool last season after they clinched the NL West.

If manager Don Mattingly has his way, they will get no such flak for how they celebrate should they beat the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday night. Mattingly urged a "humble" celebration in front of the Giants.

"You've got a good chance to play them again," Mattingly said. "Plus, they're a championship team. You expect them to move forward. I just think it's the right way to act, it's just good sportsmanship. You don't have to do anything that demeans the Giants. The accomplishment is something to be very proud of, but I don't think you need to make anyone look bad."

The rivals could meet in the postseason for the first time ever if the Giants win their wild-card game and their first-round playoff series, and the Dodgers advance in the NLDS.

There is a scenario where the Dodgers and Giants would both celebrate in their respective clubhouses Wednesday night. The Dodgers stationed an extra security guard near the Giants' clubhouse for just such an eventuality. If the Dodgers win Wednesday’s game behind ace Clayton Kershaw and the Milwaukee Brewers lose their game in Cincinnati, the Dodgers would clinch the NL West and the Giants would have sewn up a wild-card spot.

According to Elias, two teams have clinched in one game only once before, when the Houston Astros beat the St. Louis Cardinals 2-1 on Oct. 5, 2001.

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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