Dodgers confirm interest in free agent Scott Rolen

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ESPN’s Buster Olney reported two weeks ago that the Dodgers were viewing free agent Scott Rolen as a “possible target” in their quest for third base depth. And now the club has confirmed that interest.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register on Saturday that he has spoken directly to Rolen, who is still deciding whether he wants to continue his playing career.

“Ned (Colletti, Dodgers GM) mentioned him to me and I talked to him,” Mattingly said Saturday during the organization’s annual Fan Fest event at Dodger Stadium. “I can’t really speak for him (Rolen). We just talked about what we were thinking, what we were looking at. I don’t think anybody thought of him being available until a few weeks ago. I just talked to him about the possibility if you don’t go back there … if it ends up being he doesn’t go back to Cincinnati, then that’s when we’d talk.”

The Reds have an excellent young third baseman in Todd Frazier and probably can’t offer Rolen much playing time in 2013. The Dodgers, meanwhile, are planning to start Luis Cruz at the hot corner.

 

Bryce Harper to Little League players: “No participation trophies, first place only”

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Nationals’ star outfielder Bryce Harper had some words of advice for a local Little League team on Saturday, telling a crowd of young players and their parents that winning matters far more than any participation trophies they might receive for their efforts on the field.

“As much as they might tell you, ‘Oh, it’s okay, you guys lost…’ No, Johnny, no,” Harper explained. “No participation trophies, okay? First place only. Come on.”

The panic over participation trophy culture has swelled over the last few years as studies continue to suggest that children are happier when they’re praised for their accomplishments, rather than rewarded for simply trying their best. The general idea is that kids aren’t motivated to succeed when they know they’ll receive a ribbon or medal celebrating their efforts at the end of the day — regardless of whether they win or lose. (Granted, it stands to reason that every kid can feel the difference between winning a championship trophy and receiving a participation ribbon.) Some have taken the idea to an extreme, claiming that when a child receives too many accolades for mediocre or poor performances, it can warp the way they view the world by generating a sense of undeserved entitlement.

Harper kept his tone light during the Q&A session, however, drawing cheers and applause from the majority of parents and a few of the kids. The 2015 NL MVP has routinely taken his own advice over the years, earning Rookie of the Year honors, four All-Star nominations and a Silver Slugger award since he broke into the major leagues in 2012. Next on his list? A World Series championship.

Indians to move Danny Salazar to the bullpen

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MLB.com’s William Kosileski reports that Indians starter Danny Salazar is being moved to the bullpen and will be available as soon as Wednesday or Thursday. The Indians will go on a five-game road strip starting on June 2, and manager Terry Francona said that Salazar could get a start during that trip.

Salazar, 27, has struggled to a 5.50 ERA over his first 10 starts this season. While none of those starts were absolute disasters, he failed to finish the sixth inning in seven of those 10 starts. It’s a far cry from his performance over the last two seasons, when he finished with a 3.45 ERA and 3.87 ERA.

Salazar’s walk rate is up to a career-high 11.9 percent, per FanGraphs, and he’s allowing many more line drives at the expense of ground balls. Compared to 2016, his line drive rate is up 8.9 percent and his ground ball rate is down 10.4 percent. All of that could explain Salazar’s struggles to some extent.