Friday, April 30, 2010
Dodgers go back to fundamentals
By Tony Jackson
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers hit the field about half an hour before they normally do for pregame workouts Friday so they could practice cutoffs and relays. Manager Joe Torre tried to say the extra work wasn't the result of sloppy play thus far this season, but at the same time, he sort of conceded that it was.
Torre had said Thursday he held a meeting with his position players -- pitchers weren't invited -- sometime while the team was being swept in a three-game series at New York earlier this week. After the cutoff/relay drill, Torre said he told the players that for the time being, the team will be practicing a specific drill before one game of each series.
"We're doing fundamentals each series," Torre said. "We're trying to get better, obviously. We have done things we think we need to work on, whether it's pitchers bunting or PFP (pitchers' fielding practice), the last couple of years."
Torre said the Dodgers would take infield -- a daily pregame activity for big league clubs as recently as a couple of decades ago but something that is rarely seen anymore -- one day before an upcoming three-game series with Milwaukee beginning Tuesday.
Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti let it be known publicly earlier this week he is less concerned about the team's miserable start than he is about the way the team's players are going about their business. Colletti made those comments before Wednesday's game against the Mets, and the team continued during that game to miss cutoff men and have loose balls rolling around the infield at various times.
Matt Martin, the Dodgers' roving minor league infield coordinator, also arrived at Dodger Stadium on Friday at a time when the Dodgers are tied for the major league lead with 21 errors. But Torre said Martin's sudden appearance had nothing to do with that and instead was the sort of routine visit that minor league coordinators often make to the big-league club.
Ramirez rehab assignment?
Dodgers left fielder Manny Ramirez is in line for a minor league rehabilitation assignment, probably at Triple-A Albuquerque, by the middle of next week if he continues to experience no setbacks with his strained right calf. That would put Ramirez in line to return from the 15-day disabled list as soon as he becomes eligible on May 9 against Colorado.
However, if the sometimes-disagreeable Ramirez decides at that time he doesn't want to go on such an assignment, or that he doesn't want to travel to Memphis where the Isotopes are playing next week, it might not happen.
Position players usually are sent to the higher levels of a team's minor league system for rehabs so they can face something closer to major league-quality pitching, while pitchers usually can be sent to a lower-level affiliate that is geographically closer to the big-league club for their rehabs.
Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal took ground balls for the first time since receiving a PRP injection in his strained left hamstring. Furcal was said to be feeling better, but he probably won't play before the Brewers series.
"With any luck, we'll have him for Tuesday,"' Torre said.
Outfielder Garret Anderson, who is 37 and in his 17th big-league season, wouldn't blame his season-long hitting slump on his age or the fact he is a role player for the first time in his decorated career.
"My mindset is fine," he said. "This is just a hitting thing. I have about 10,000 at-bats, so it doesn't make a difference if I'm only getting one. I try to treat that one just like any other at-bat, and I think that helps a lot. This is more about the physical part of hitting. I'm popping a lot of balls up, where I'm usually a line-drive hitter."
Torre said the pinch-hit home run Anderson hit in Cincinnati last week was proof that time wasn't catching up to him, even though Anderson entered Friday night's game with Pittsburgh hitting .122 with a .159 on-base percentage and 12 strikeouts in 48 plate appearances.
That is one strikeout every four plate appearances. For his career, Anderson has struck out just once every 7.5 plate appearances.
"It's just timing," Torre said. "One thing about it, he hasn't changed who he is. He is really a class act, and he doesn't go hide. I will still use him in a key situation tonight if I need to, because if you're sitting in that other dugout, he still scares you. You don't go from a home run like he hit in Cincinnati to all of a sudden losing it."
Weaver simulated game
Reliever Jeff Weaver will throw a three-inning simulated game, consisting of 40-45 pitches, on Saturday at Dodger Stadium. If that goes well, he will go on a one- or two-game rehab assignment, probably to high Single-A Inland Empire. Weaver, who has a strain in the right side of his lower back, remains on track to come off the 15-day DL as soon as he becomes eligible on May 8.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.