Wallenbrock and Van Scoyoc, based in Santa Clarita near LA, apparently re-engineered the swing of a marginal MLB player, JD Martinez, after he batted 0.250 with 7 HRs in 2013. In 2014 with larger launch angle, Martinez batted 0.315 with 23 HR. His career continue to take off after that including the offense explosion last year.
Chris Taylor, another marginal player, took off last year after Dodgers traded for him, and he studied under Wallenbrock also last offseason. With the new swing, Taylor slashed .288/.354/.496.
These are the same private coaches that Drury (and Lagares of the Mets) had re-engineered his swing this past offseason. Lets hope for similar results for Drury. Not everyone gains the same benefits. Apparently Van Scoyoc has been hired by Arizona.
FORT MYERS, Fla. – If one more team had passed him by, the Twins would have kept J.T. Chargois. But the Dodgers, whose best-in-baseball record last season gives them the lowest possible priority on waiver claims, couldn’t resist the former second-round pick who once threw 100 miles per hour.
So Chargois, whose future with the Twins was appeared so bright when he represented them in the 2016 Futures Game in San Diego, is now off to join the NL champions in Glendale, Ariz.
“Talented kid,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said of the 27-year-old righthander, who appeared in 25 major league games and posted a 4.70 ERA in 2016. “The amount of innings he has pitched the last five years because of one thing or another has not enabled him maybe to get to where we think he’s still got a chance to go. … He can help some team.”
Chargois, taken with the 73rd overall pick in 2012, didn’t pitch at all in 2013 or 2014 after elbow pain resulted in Tommy John ligament replacement surgery. He seemed back on track in 2015, and moved up quickly. But a stress reaction in his elbow last spring ended his season after just two outings in April. When the Twins decided they needed another roster spot as they pursue more depth in the free-agent market, the former Rice star was deemed expendable.
“He was excited to get into camp and be healthy,” Molitor said. “He felt like he’s got a chance to go out there and compete.”
Slegers looks sharp
Aaron Slegers’ four-game sneak peek at the majors last season didn’t go as well as he hoped, but it’s still providing benefits this year. The 6-10 Twins righthander proved it Friday in his, and his team’s, first inning of Grapefruit League play.
Slegers faced Boston’s Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Hanley Ramirez, each an established big-league star, and retired all three, the last two on strikeouts. That’s probably not how that would have gone a year ago, the 24-year-old said.
“That top of the order they throw out there doesn’t intimidate me like it used to,” Slegers said, mostly because he spent September in the majors. “If I had faced that a year ago, maybe I would have gone about that differently. It just instills that attack factor, [the confidence] that I can pitch at the highest level.”
Kemp resides near the top of the list for the last spot. The Dodgers are unlikely to carry both Joc Pederson and Andrew Toles, both left-handed hitters. The team can send either player to the minors. Trayce Thompson, a right-handed hitting outfielder, is out of options, but batted .122 last season. Top prospect Alex Verdugo is likely bound for triple-A Oklahoma City.
Right-hander Jeff Hoffman threw the first pitch of the Rockies’ Cactus League season.
Right fielder David Dahl played in his first game since July 31, a time when pain was his constant companion on a baseball field.
And 7-year-old Aaron Lawson of Colorado Springs watched his first major-league game. Never mind that it was just an exhibition game in February with a temperature of 60 degrees and a chilly wind making fans shiver. And never mind that third baseman Nolan Arenado, Aaron’s favorite player, played only three innings.
“This is pretty cool,” Aaron said, picking apart his purple cotton candy.
“I just wish it weren’t so cold,” said Aaron’s grandfather, Robert Brookings, who lives in Chandler, Ariz., not far from Salt River Fields.
Cold, of course, is in the bones of the beholder. For Rockies fans back home in Colorado, who have endured a week of cold, snow and ice, Friday afternoon was positively balmy. Well, maybe not. By game’s end, some fans were donning parkas.
For Hoffman, who’s trying to earn a spot in the starting rotation, the game was a big deal.
“There are always nerves and adrenaline going when you have fans in the stands and another team facing you,” he said after throwing two scoreless innings. “It was really fun. I just went out and tried to embrace the day and the opportunity that was given to me.”
For the record, the Rockies lost 7-6, in 10 innings, in front of 7,682 fans.
Wearing a Dodgers uniform in a game for the first time since the 2014 National League Division Series, Matt Kemp went 2 for 2 with a three-run home run that evoked memories of a bygone era – the 2006 through 2014 seasons when Kemp hit 182 regular-season home runs for the Dodgers.
“Oh, heck yeah. The fans standing up? That was pretty cool, for sure,” Kemp said of being cheered by Dodgers fans again.
“It was exciting to me. Here, the fans like to come to spring training so the games are always exciting. I got a pretty warm welcome. It’s better than the Dodgers fans booing me when I was on the other side. It was exciting.”
If Friday’s homer had a little more significance than your average Cactus League homer, everything Kemp does this spring will be watched more closely. The Dodgers’ efforts to move his contract were unsuccessful during the offseason but have not ended. How he plays this spring could give those efforts a boost – or put Kemp more clearly in the Dodgers’ plans for this season.
“I don’t know. You tell me,” Kemp joked when asked if he felt more eyes following him this spring.
“Of course. I think that’s obvious. I mean, it is what it is. I played in L.A. for a pretty long time so I’ve always had eyes on me.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will have his eyes on Kemp. But he admitted he is more interested in seeing what Kemp looks like in left field than at the plate.
“We haven’t seen Matt in a few years,” Roberts said. “So for us to see him and see how his body is moving … it’s really not in the batter’s box. He’s been very productive throughout his career (offensively). Obviously there are good seasons and there are not so good seasons but in the batter’s box he’s been pretty consistent with production. The dropoff has been defensively. I think that’s something Matt’s very clear on and for us to keep an eye on.”
Slimmed down by 40 pounds since last season, Kemp wasn’t tested defensively in Friday’s game – “Hey, I caught my first ball today so I’m doing good,” he joked. But all indications are he has accepted the challenge to reverse his defensive regression.
“Being in shape and feeling good is going to make playing defense easier,” Kemp said. “Hit and play defense. That’s going to win games.”
Roberts said Yasiel Puig was originally in the lineup for Friday’s Cactus League opener but was scratched due to a sore hip. Roberts said the issue was not serious and blamed Puig’s new cleats for causing the problem.
“He had a different pair of shoes that he’s breaking in,” Roberts said. “He didn’t put his orthotics in.”
Puig did go through the Dodgers’ full workout Friday and Roberts said he will start one of the team’s split-squad games Saturday.
The Dodgers and KTLA have once again reached agreement to simulcast some early regular-season games on SportsNet LA and KTLA5.
Five games (including SportsNet LA’s pre-game show) will be simulcast during the first month of the regular season – Friday March 30 against the San Francisco Giants, Saturday April 7 also against the Giants, Friday April 13 against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Saturday April 21 against the Washington Nationals and Saturday April 28 from San Francisco.
The release announcing the simulcast agreement also included this statement on the status of the ongoing distribution issues that have limited access to Dodgers broadcasts – “SportsNet LA and Dodgers games are exclusively available on Charter’s Spectrum service and other distributors are not expected to carry SportsNet LA this season.”
The Dodgers claimed right-hander J.T. Chargois off waivers from the Minnesota Twins on Friday. Chargois, 27, made 25 relief appearances for the Twins in 2016, going 1-1 with a 4.70 ERA. Originally a second-round pick out of Rice University in 2012, Chargois had Tommy John surgery in 2013 and missed nearly all of last season due to a stress reaction in his elbow.
In order to clear a 40-man roster spot for Chargois, left-hander Julio Urias was placed on the 60-day DL. Urias is recovering from shoulder surgery and won’t be available to pitch until late in the season.
When the Los Angeles Dodgers took the field for their Cactus League opener on Friday, Yasiel Puig was not with them. He was supposed to be, according to manager Dave Roberts, but he was ultimately scratched with what will go down as the first weird ailment of the 2018 season.
According to Roberts, Puig is dealing with some hip soreness. That by itself is not uncommon. In fact, soreness at this point in spring training is almost expected. Even though the players do an exceptional job keeping themselves in shape during the offseason, there’s still always an adjustment period to the early spring training workouts.
The believed cause of Puig’s soreness though is a new one as it relates to baseball. That’s because, Roberts says Puig’s new shoes were to blame.
Yasiel Puig was scratched because of “something with the hip” caused by his new shoes, Dave Roberts said.
We’re all well aware of the importance of finding comfortable shoes. Shoes (and baseball cleats too) affect the way we walk, the way we stand, and can impact our muscles and joints if forced to compensate for soreness. Adjusting to a new pair of shoes is the most common time to experience that soreness.
Unfortunately for Puig, it sounds like his shoes got the best of him. Of course, the good news is that he should be good to go in short order. The Dodgers are just being extra cautious with his health as all teams are in February.
Once Puig manages the soreness and gets adjusted to his shoes, his next goal will be building on a strong 2017 regular season and a dynamic postseason where he was making positive headlines almost every day. Puig finished the season with 28 home runs, 74 RBIs, and 15 stolen bases, to go along with a respectable .263 batting average.
The Dodgers managed fine without Puig on Friday, defeating the Chicago White Sox 13-5. Among the offensive stars was Matt Kemp, who went 2-for-2 with a three-run home run. It’s anybody’s guess right now what the Dodgers outfield will look like on opening day, but one story to follow this spring, aside from Puig’s shoes having enough toe room, is whether the outfield will have enough room for both Puig and Kemp.