Play Ball…Almost

The new Skipper Donnie Baseball (Photo from Morry Gash/AP)

Camelback Ranch is a buzz as all of the Dodgers prospective 2011 roster candidates, except the enigmatic Ronald Belisario, practice as a full squad for the first time today.

According to Ken Gurnick at MLB. COM Mattingly will be choosing his words carefully when he addresses the club prior to thier initial workout.  

Mattingly said, “They may think they know me. They probably think I’m laid-back. But as a coach, it’s different. It was Joe’s club. You respect the job. You may think differently, but it’s not your job to express it. “Now this is about the way I think about playing the game. When they walk out of camp, I hope they have a good understanding of what’s expected, all the little things that go into forming a club, so it’s not a surprise.”

I am particularly happy to hear him talk about the team having a good understanding of “all the little things” and that the team will resemble Mattingly as a player, which to me says we should be in for the opposite of the way Joe Torre managed, which is just what this club needs. He also named Matt Kemp the team’s cleanup hitter.

One of the Dodgers highest paid players in 2011, 33 year old Rafael Furcal clearly has a lot to prove this season. After playing in only 97 games in 2010, the Dodgers own a club option on Furcal for 2012 at $12 million, the same salary they will pay him this season. But by then he’ll be 34 years of age and the Dodgers will surely need those payroll dollars to fill holes elsewhere, such as catcher, first & third base.

Dylan Hernandez wrote in the Los Angeles Times that Furcal’s option automatically kicks in if he reaches 600 plate appearances, he barely had over 420 last year. So will Management force Mattingly to rest Furcal late in 2011 if the team is out of the hunt and he is nearing 600 plate appearances to avoid his $12 million 2010 option?  Especially with Dodger fans yearning for highly touted prospect Dee Gordon to be the teams opening day Short Stop in 2012.

For more on Gordon, visit Minor League Baseball.Com as they discuss his defensive progression and late start in Baseball as part of their 10 questions series.

And finally just to please frequent Lasorda’s Lair poster James, according to the official Dodgers Twitter feed, which can be found on the lower right hand side of our home page, Maury Wills is in the cage right now “talking bunting with Broxton” because there are so many scenarios Dodger fans can envision when Brox, the teams closer, will be called upon to bunt. Or maybe Mattingly is so committed to ‘the little things’ he’s having everyone bunt, teaching players to give themselves up by moving guys over, running more, and actually going first to third like the Angels do so effectively. We shall see…One things for sure Baseball is Back!

Topics: Dee Gordon, Don Mattingly, Joe Torre, Jonathan Broxton, Matt Kemp, Rafael Furcal, Ronald Belisario

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