Todays Spring Training notes from the Dodgers:
STRANGE BREW: The Dodgers take on the Milwaukee Brewers for the second and final time this spring after beating the Brew Crew in Maryvale on March 8, 7-1. The Dodgers and Brewers meet for the first time during the regular season on May 16-17 at Dodger Stadium.
CALLING ALL DODGERS: This morning, Dodger players and coaches are pitching in to raise money for the American Red Cross Japan Tsunami fund by signing autographs in exchange for donations from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. prior to the game. Chad Billingsley, Casey Blake, Jonathan Broxton, Jamey Carroll, Andre Ethier, Rafael Furcal, Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw, Ted Lilly, James Loney, Vicente Padilla, Ramon Troncoso, Juan Uribe and Maury Wills are expected to sign along with Japanese minor leaguers Kazuki Nishijima, Kazuya Takano and Robert Boothe. Players will sign autographs in the ballpark’s third base side aisles at some point during the donation period and Hall of Fame Manager Tommy Lasorda will sign autographs for fans at his usual table outside of the center field gate. Today’s starting pitcher, Hiroki Kuroda, will come by to sign autographs and take donations on the center field concourse once he is removed from the game. Fans that give $20 will receive a voucher good for one baseline reserve seat for any remaining Dodgers Spring Training game at Camelback Ranch, with a maximum of four vouchers per guest, as well as two tickets to one of two upcoming Spring Training exhibition games at Dodger Stadium. This past Tuesday, the Dodgers hosted a drive-through relief event at Dodger Stadium that raised funds for Japan.
HEATING UP: The Dodgers won their third straight Cactus League contest yesterday in Scottsdale against San Francisco, 6-3. The three straight wins are the most consecutive for the club this spring and the offense is starting to perk up, with five home runs in the last two games. Ivan DeJesus collected three hits while Hector Gimenez and Xavier Paul blasted ninth-inning insurance homers. On the mound, Rubby De La Rosa fired 4.0 hitless and scoreless innings, lowering his spring ERA to 1.80. Oscar Villarreal picked up his second save with a scoreless ninth inning. DeJesus’ three-hit contest was the Dodgers’ second three-knock affair this spring, matching Tony Gwynn Jr.’s 3-for-3 back on March 12.
- ON YOUR MARK...: Tomorrow morning is the 26th Los Angeles Marathon, which will begin at Dodger Stadium and finish on the Santa Monica Pier. To date there have been 394,575 official finishers in the LA Marathon, which began in 1986.
OUR HIRO: Dodger right-hander Hiroki Kuroda will make his fourth start of the season this afternoon, looking to improve on his 0-2 record. Following Kuroda to the mound will be RHP Travis Schlichting, LHP Scott Elbert and RHP Lance Cormier. The Brewers will answer with former Dodger Randy Wolf.
GETTING OLD: Dodger left-hander Clayton Kershaw is celebrating his 23rd birthday today. The Texas native shares his big day with Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn , who would have been 84 today. When Kershaw took the mound for the first time in a big league uniform on May 25, 2008, he became the fourth-youngest starting pitcher in L.A. Dodger history, behind Joe Moeller, Dick Calmus and Edwin Jackson.
THE WOLF MAN RETURNS: The opposing pitcher in today’s game will be left-hander Randy Wolf, who pitched for the Dodgers in 2007 and 2009, going a combined 20-13 over 52 starts. Wolf was born in West Hills, attended El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills and resides in Los Angeles.
LEADERBOARD: Dodger outfielder Marcus Thames is tied for sixth in the Cactus League with five doubles while fellow newcomer Tony Gwynn Jr. is tied for second with six steals. Gwynn is hitting .333 (11-for-33) and is tied for second on the club in hits with Andre Ethier, trailing just Matt Kemp, who has 13. Trent Oeltjen, who became the fourth Australian-born player to suit up for the Dodgers last season, leads all Dodger hitters with a .438 average (min. 15 at-bats). Not to go unnoticed, Dodger infielder/catcher Hector Gimenez is hitting .360 (9-for-25) with three homers, six RBI and six runs scored. Gimenez and Kemp lead the squad with three home runs apiece.
MAKING HIS BID: Xavier Paul belted a homer in his only at-bat yesterday and has caught fire of late, batting .583 (7-for-12) with a double, triple, homer and two RBI over his last six games dating back to March 12. The 26-year-old is batting .313 (10--for-32) with two homers and four RBI in 18 Spring Training games.
THE FINAL 42: Following Thursday’s game, infielder/outfielder Jerry Sands and infielder Justin Sellers were reassigned to minor league camp. Sands, the Dodgers’ 2010 Minor League Player of the Year, batted .364 with two home runs, five RBI and a .773 slugging percentage in 16 games with the big league club. The Dodgers now have 42 players left in camp with an even split of pitchers and position players.