*Early in 1956, the Dodgers were invited by Matsutaro Shoriki, the founder of the Yomiuri Shimbun and the “father of Japanese professional baseball,” to make a trip to Japan following the regular season. It was Walter O’Malley’s desire to accept the invitation and have the Dodgers make the goodwill tour to further international relations. He spent time to ensure the key Dodger players would make the trip before responding. The Dodgers were at the height of their popularity, having won their first World Series Championship in 1955. The plans for the trip were announced publicly by O’Malley on September 9. John M. Allison, U.S. Ambassador to Japan, issued a statement just before the Dodgers arrived in Japan. U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower authorized Allison to say that baseball has become “a regular and significant event in Japan’s relations with the United States.” Allison added, “This visit to Japan by one of America’s most notable baseball teams is an outstanding example of the many mutual interests shared by the people of Japan and the United States, the two nations which regard baseball as a national sport. It is but one of the many exchanges by which the two countries further their good relations and understanding.”
Wednesday, March 09, 2011
Below are Day 21 Spring Training notes from the Dodgers.
SEATTLE SLEW: The Dodgers will try to make it three-in-a-row when they take on the Seattle Mariners at Camelback Ranch this afternoon. The Mariners will also host the Dodgers in the Cactus League on the night of March 25 in Peoria. On March 30, the two clubs will face off at Dodger Stadium in the final exhibition game prior to the Dodgers’ opening night against the Giants.
JONNY BOY: Dodger right-hander Jon Garland makes his second start of the spring season this afternoon after allowing one unearned run in his spring debut last Friday. Last year, the Granada Hills native set career bests with a 3.47 ERA and 136 strikeouts in 33 starts with the Padres, tying for the team lead with 14 wins while tossing 200.0 or more innings for the sixth time in his career. Garland will be followed by LHP Hong-Chih Kuo, RHP Ramon Troncoso and RHP Jon Huber. RHP Doug Fister will take the mound for Seattle.
- CHICKS DIG IT: The Dodgers used the long ball as a weapon against the Brewers yesterday, belting four out of Maryvale Baseball Park in a 7-1 victory. Tony Gwynn, Jr., Matt Kemp, Aaron Miles and Andre Ethier all hit their first blasts of the spring, while Kemp and Ethier drove in two runs apiece. On the mound, right-hander John Ely (2-0) fired 3.0 scoreless innings and has now tossed 6.0 shutout innings in Cactus League action.
- THE DAVEY FACTOR: The Dodgers did not steal a base yesterday, snapping a streak of six consecutive Cactus League contests in which the club had swiped at least one bag. Last season, the Dodgers stole a base in five consecutive games three different times, but never six. Dodger outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. leads the Major Leagues with five stolen bases this spring and the Dodgers have stolen 16 overall, which ties them with Pittsburgh for the National League lead. Just two Dodgers have been caught stealing in 12 games this spring after the club stole just 10 bases in 30 Spring Training games last season.
- THE STATUS KUO: Dodger All-Star left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo will make his 2011 Spring Training debut this afternoon. Kuo has been working with a different throwing program to get him ready for the season. In 2010, Kuo had one of the best seasons ever for a Dodger reliever, posting the best single-season ERA of all time among pitchers with at least 50.0 IP (1.200). The native of Taiwan saved 12 games in 13 chances last season and limited opposing hitters to a .139 batting average, which was tops among big league relievers.
- RUNNING DOWN A DREAM: The Los Angeles Marathon is just 11 days away and this morning fundraising just got a little bit more fun. At 10 a.m. PST, ThinkCure! is launching the “Sprint Challenge” in which the first eight runners in either the Marathon or the LA5K to raise $1,000 on their fundraising page will have the opportunity to take the field with the Dodgers on Saturday, June 25 vs. the Angels. To set up your personal fundraising page, go to crowdrise.com/thinkcuremarathon or thinkcure.org/marathon and get ready to take the field with the Boys in Blue.
- MINOR ARRIVAL: Today is the official reporting day for all Dodger minor leaguers. According to minor league clubhouse stalwart Troy Timney, there are 148 players arriving in camp and 198 lockers in the clubhouse. Minor league games will begin on March 18.
GETTING IT DONE: Yesterday, Dodger right-hander John Ely continued the Dodgers’ trend of superb starting pitching by tossing 3.0 scoreless innings. Through 12 games, Dodger starters have posted a miniscule 1.09 ERA (4 ER/33.0 IP). The Los Angeles projected rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly, Hiroki Kuroda and Jon Garland will boast five pitchers who each won 10 or more games last season. Their cumulative 2010 ERA of 3.39 (371 ER/986.0 IP) and .234 opponents’ batting average (857-for-3,663) would have led all Major League starting rotations and their combined 844 strikeouts would have ranked third. Each member of the club’s starting rotation posted an ERA under 3.65, pitched more than 190.0 innings and made 30 or more starts last season.
THE J &J BOYS: This afternoon’s game will be broadcast live on KABC 790 by the hosts of “Dodgertalk,” Joe Block and Josh Suchon. This season will be Block’s first with KABC and Suchon is entering his fourth year as the co-host of “Dodgertalk.” Following the game, you can call the dynamic duo at 1-800-222-KABC to talk all things Dodgers. The show will air tonight from 6:30-7 p.m. PT.
HOWL AT THE RANCH: Today is Phoenix Coyotes Day at Camelback Ranch. Former player and current Coyotes’ broadcaster Tyson Nash will throw out the ceremonial first pitch and the Yotes’ mascot Howler will be signing autographs and taking pictures. In addition, two large inflatable hockey players will be on display and an inflatable slap shot game will be set up by the home plate gate. All fans showing a ticket stub from last night’s Coyotes-Canucks game will receive half-price admission to today’s Dodger game vs. Seattle.