Dodgers hoping new first base coach Davey Lopes can work his magic on Matt Kemp

4 Comments

In hiring Davey Lopes as their new first base coach the Dodgers are adding one of the game’s most successful base-stealers and base-stealing coaches to the staff, but there’s also an added bonus: Lopes is longtime friends with Dave Stewart, the former All-Star pitcher-turned-agent who represents center fielder Matt Kemp.

Kemp clashed with the previous coaching staff and Stewart wasn’t shy about going public with his thoughts on the situation, but now he’s confident that “Matt will have someone he can trust” in Lopes, whom he calls “the best friend I have in this world.”

Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that Lopes got in touch with Kemp several weeks ago to talk about his offseason workout program and yesterday Lopes spoke about the importance of having a good relationship with young players:

You have to adapt to today’s player. You have to be able to communicate. You need a guy to build you up. That helps elevate a player.

Kemp could definitely use some building up after seeing his OPS drop from .842 to .760 while his defense declined significantly as well, and Lopes’ base-stealing expertise may come in particularly handy. Kemp swiped 35 bases in 2008 and 34 bases in 2009, but was thrown out on 15 of his 34 attempts this season. Lopes isn’t a miracle-worker, but he seemingly has as good a chance as anyone of helping Kemp get back on track in 2011.

Julio Urias to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery

Getty Images
1 Comment

The news has gone from bad to worse for Dodgers’ left-hander Julio Urias, who is scheduled for anterior capsule surgery on his left shoulder next Tuesday and expected to be sidelined through the middle of the 2018 season. His MRI came back negative on Wednesday, giving the Dodgers some hope that the 20-year-old’s bout of shoulder inflammation wasn’t masking any structural damage, but the pain lingered several days later and prompted further concern from the club. The procedure will be performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

Urias was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City in late May and placed on the disabled list with left shoulder discomfort several weeks into his assignment. At the major league level, he owned a 5.40 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 4.2 SO/9 through 23 1/3 innings, going 0-2 in five starts with Los Angeles. He made a brief rebound in Triple-A, posting three wins and striking out 17 of 67 batters in 17 1/3 innings before landing on the DL.

It’s a tough blow for the southpaw, who had yet to hit his stride in the majors before getting sidelined with shoulder issues. The Dodgers were especially mindful of this outcome for Urias, and had taken preventative measures to protect his arm by establishing a strict innings limit last season. According to club president Andrew Friedman, there’s a small silver lining here: while Urias’ injury will keep him out of work for at least 12 months, he doesn’t appear to have sustained any damage to his labrum or rotator cuff, and could be facing a much more streamlined recovery process as a result. Whether he’ll be able to rebound once he takes the mound again remains to be seen.

Tigers release Francisco Rodriguez

Getty Images
5 Comments

Tigers’ right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez was released on Friday, per a team announcement. The club recalled fellow right-hander Bruce Rondon from Triple-A Toledo in a corresponding move.

The former closer got the boot after losing his closing role in early May, giving left-hander Justin Wilson a chance to impress at the back end of the bullpen. It’s been a rough year for Rodriguez, who manufactured six blown saves and a 7.82 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 25 1/3 innings for the Tigers. The final straw, it seemed, came with Robinson Cano‘s grand slam in the seventh inning of the Tigers’ 6-9 loss to the Mariners on Thursday.

While the demotion to a clean-up role and an apparent lack of communication caused Rodriguez considerable frustration, he’s two years removed from his last dominant performance as a major league closer and has shown few signs of returning to form. His recent slump doesn’t diminish the impressive totals he’s racked up over his 16-year career — 437 saves and six All-Star nominations among them — but if he can’t break out of it soon, he may not receive the kind of high leverage role he’s seeking with another big league team, either.