Craig Calcaterra

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The sights and sounds of Camelback Ranch

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GLENDALE, Ariz. — Camelback Ranch, spring training home of the Dodgers and White Sox, is a seriously beautiful facility.

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The only drawback to it is that it faces south-southeast, so the crowd just bakes in the sun. Not sure why that is. I have to assume there was some reason for it, but sheesh, it’s brutal here. Especially if you’re a pasty mother like I am. The press box is no good place to watch a game, but it’s sort of necessary for me here.

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D*O*D*G*E*R*S

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Yasiel Puig and Erisbel Arruebarrena. As Tommy Lasorda famously saidMuy dificil. 

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Just before Don Mattingly came out for his daily meet-the-press, the assembled Los Angeles press was talking about how there wasn’t a whole heck of a lot to ask him. This Dodgers camp is pretty quiet. The Andre Ethier situation is a bit up in the air, but there are no real position battles. No injuries of note since Jansen. We’ve entered the daily grind portion of spring training. The excitement of the new is over but we’re still weeks away from hard decisions (if any) and games with any significance. There’s a lot of talk of golf and restaurants and stuff.

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A couple of legends just hanging around and talking shop. Tommy Lasorda has become something of a mascot. In public there’s a lot of Dodgers cheerleading and smiling and waving and stuff. But — not that I was eavesdropping or anything — he is still quite capable of delivering a blue streak of colorful language when telling a baseball story from, like, 40 years ago, and I’m happy about that.

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Of course, he can also be pretty horrifying in just the right setting. OMG, that’s nightmare fuel.

It really sucks to be a Colorado Rockies hitter today

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The Colorado Rockies are playing split squad games, with half of the team heading to Glendale to face the Dodgers and half the team staying at home at Salt River to face the Mariners. Here are the pitching matchups for those two games:

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Kershaw or King Felix? Pick your damn poison. Or, at the very least, ask Walt Weiss and whoever is managing the other game if you can get your hacks in after the third inning.

Cliff Lee has a tear in his flexor tendon

Cliff Lee
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Jon Paul Morosi reports that an MRI confirms that Phillies starter Cliff Lee has a tear in the flexor tendon of his pitching arm.

This comes two days after Lee experiencing discomfort in his left elbow after throwing two innings Thursday in his Grapefruit League debut. And a year in which he was limited to 81 and a third innings due to elbow soreness. The Phillies are saying that this is not the sort of tear that would require Tommy John surgery but, I mean, tears in elbow tendons aren’t exactly wonderful when you’re a pitcher.

Lee, 36, is due $25 million this year. If he does manager to pitch 200 innings this year and not end the season on the disabled list due to elbow problems, he’ll trigger a $27 million vesting option for the 2016 season. Even if he doesn’t — which seems quite likely — he has a $12.5 million buyout because Ruben.

Yasiel Puig: walking the walk and listening to the talk

Yasiel Puig
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GLENDALE, Ariz. — There are no accidents. For example, when you walk into the Dodgers’ clubhouse here at Camelback Ranch, you note that, high on the wall above a row of lockers is a quote from a Dodgers legend:

“If you rush in and out of the clubhouse, you rush in and out of baseball.” — Pee Wee Reese

Directly beneath that sign is the locker of one Yasiel Puig, himself known for rushing into the clubhouse with little or no time to spare on occasion. Coincidence? I think not.

Also not a coincidence: veteran Adrian Gonzalez’s locker directly next to Puig’s, despite the fact that all of the other big-time veterans — Juan Uribe, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier — are around the corner from them. Between the Reese quote and the veteran presence, it’s almost as if the Dodgers are making sure that their young superstar is especially well-mentored.

To be fair to Mr. Puig, he was in the clubhouse bright and early today, sitting in front of his locker next to young Alex Guerrero, each having finished a workout already, and each dutifully answering the questions of the Spanish-speaking media. This despite the fact that he’s not in today’s lineup and, if he wanted to, could go hang out in the trainer’s room and be anti-social. We’ve heard tell that Puig wants to make a point to be less of a distraction this year. To just be one guy on the team and carry himself like a quiet professional. I suppose this is as good a start as any.

People who watch him every day are noticing too.

We’ve had two years to watch Yasiel Puig unleash his amazing physical gifts and baseball skills on Major League Baseball. If the appearances and talk around Camelback Ranch about Puig sharpening his focus and putting just as much mental effort into his game as physical effort are accurate, we could see something pretty damn special from the Dodgers right fielder this coming season.

The Astros’ Evan Gattis: “Who cares about the strikeouts if you win the World Series?”

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This is one of those quintessential spring training stories.

Jayson Stark catches up with the Astros, who have assembled an all-or-nothing sort of team. Already a pretty strikeout prone bunch with Chris Carter, Jon Singleton, George Springer and Jason Castro, Houston has added Evan Gattis, Colby Rasmus and Luis Valbuena to their lineup. That’s gonna be a lot of whiffs.

But, as Stark notes, it could also mean a lot of dingers. And, based on this Evan Gattis quote, a lot of optimism:

“We’ll see, you know?” he laughed Monday. “Stay tuned. We’ll find out. But I think we’ll score a lot of runs. And if you do, you win a lot. Who cares about the strikeouts if you win the World Series?”

I wouldn’t bet money on that, but Gattis is paid to think positively about his and his team’s abilities, so no harm done. Still, as a fan of a team that has been pretty all or nothing the past couple of seasons in the strikeout/home run department, it’ll be either really cool or really frustrating to watch the Astros this year.