Here is todays Spring Training Report from the Dodgers:
TOP OF THE MORNING: The Dodgers and Diamondbacks meet today at Camelback Ranch for the first this spring on St. Patrick’s Day. The two clubs will meet again on March 21 when the Dodgers send a split squad to Talking Stick. Last season, the Dodgers were 13-5 against Arizona and have not lost a season series vs. the D’backs since 2005.
A LOOK BACK: The NCAA men’s basketball tournament begins today, marking the first time the hoops tourney has started on St. Patrick’s Day since 2005. Last season, Los Angeles lost to the White Sox, 5-1, despite a James Loney home run on the patron saint of Ireland’s big day. One year ago today, the Dodgers were 4-5-1 in Cactus League action.
TICKLING THE TWINE: A few Dodgers players and staff have a stake in this year’s NCAA tournament as Tony Gwynn Jr. (San Diego State), Strength and Conditioning Coach Brendon Huttmann (Kansas) and right-hander Josh Lindblom (Purdue) have their alma maters in the dance. Meanwhile, Dodgertalk host Josh Suchon went to San Diego State and has already ruined one of his brackets by picking the Aztecs to win it all.
GOING GREEN: This afternoon, the Dodgers will wear green jerseys and hats in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Following the game, the players will sign their jerseys to be auctioned off by the Dodgers Dream Foundation during the season.
THE FINAL 44: On Tuesday, the Dodgers trimmed the number of players in camp to 44, including 21 pitchers and 23 position players. RHP Jon Link and IF Russell Mitchell were optioned while RHP Roman Colon and C J.D. Closser were reassigned to minor league camp.
PITCHING IN: This Saturday, several Dodger minor leaguers who hail from Japan as well as several Dodger legends will be signing autographs from 11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. in exchange for a donation to the American Red Cross Japan Tsunami fund. Dodger right-hander Hiroki Kuroda will start the game that day against the Brewers, but plans to come by to sign autographs and take donations when he is finished. The autograph table will be located just inside the home plate gate.
HEARTFELT THANKS: Dodger fans stepped up on Tuesday, donating nearly $60,000 at the Stadium to help raise money for the American Red Cross Japan earthquake and tsunami relief efforts. Donors that gave $20 or more received two tickets to an upcoming Spring Training exhibition game at Dodger Stadium.
BILLY BALLGAME: Add a third national holiday to the list of great things going on today as Dodger Assistant to the General Manager Bill Mueller turns 40! Mueller played 32 games for Los Angeles in 2006, before an injury led him to retire. Shortly thereafter, Mueller was hired by Dodger General Manager Ned Colletti and the world of Dodgertown has never been the same since. Mueller shares his big day with Celtics GM and former Major Leaguer Danny Ainge, who made the regional final with BYU in 1981.
STRETCHING OUT: Dodger right-hander Chad Billingsley will stretch out to around 80 pitches this afternoon when he makes his fourth start of the Cactus League season. Billingsley is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA while batters are hitting .256 against the Ohio native. Following Billingsley, RHP Jonathan Broxton, RHP Matt Guerrier and RHP Mike MacDougal are expected to take the hill. Arizona will counter with RHP Aaron Heilman.
MORNING COMES LATE: This afternoon, KABC talk show host Peter Tilden will take his morning show to the afternoon as he is recording tomorrow’s morning show from Camelback Ranch from 3-6 p.m. Many Dodger guests will stop by to talk with Tilden, including Dodger General Manager Ned Colletti, Dodger Manager Don Mattingly and Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda.
AN IRISH GOODBYE: On this day in 2008, the Dodgers played their final Spring Training game in Vero Beach. “Dodgertown” was the Spring Training home of the Dodgers for 60 years.
LEADERBOARD: Dodger outfielder Marcus Thames is tied for third in the Cactus League with five doubles while fellow newcomer Tony Gwynn Jr. ranks second with six steals. Gwynn is hitting .323 (10-for-31) and is second on the club in hits, trailing just Matt Kemp, who has 11. Kemp leads the Dodgers in hits, RBI (7) and total bases (20). Rod Barajas, Kemp, Aaron Miles and Jerry Sands are all tied for the most Dodger homers this spring with two. Trent Oeltjen, who became the fourth Australian-born player to suit up for the Dodgers last season, leads all Dodger hitters with a .467 average (min. 15 at-bats).
BOYS IN BLUE: The Third Annual UMPS CARE Charities online auction is underway at UmpsCare.com, featuring priceless memorabilia and one-of-a kind experiences for teams throughout baseball. Fans can bid on a Dodger batting practice experience among the other great packages until March 20.