Friday, April 1, 2011

Matt Kemp makes strides in Dodgers' win over San Francisco

Matt Kemp did something Thursday that he had never done in his previous 626 major league games.
He walked three times.
Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp slides into second with a stolen base as Giants shortstop Miguel Tejada takes the throw in the sixth inning Thursday night at Dodger Stadium. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times / March 31, 2011)

The last two of his walks resulted in the two runs the Dodgersscored in their 2-1 opening-day victory over the San Francisco Giants.
"I wasn't swinging at my bad pitches," Kemp said. "I was just patient. I wasn't getting too many pitches to hit."
Drawing a walk from Giants ace Tim Lincecum in the sixth inning, Kemp moved to third when shortstop Miguel Tejadathrew the ball past second baseman Freddy Sanchez into right field on a would-be fielder's choice. He scored whenBuster Posey tried to pick him off and sent the ball into left-field foul territory.
Kemp drew another walk, his third, in the eighth, this one against Santiago Casilla. Kemp stole second and scored on a double into the right-field corner by James Loney.
"That's the plan — get on base, steal a base, make things happen," Kemp said.
The performance was a major step forward for Kemp.
Plate discipline has not been a strength for Kemp, who set a franchise record by striking out 170 times last season. The previous record of 153 was also set by him, in 2008.
Until Thursday, Kemp had walked twice in a game only 16 times. His modest 53 walks last season were a career high.
Colletti on Ethier: 'I was surprised'
General Manager Ned Colletti said he was puzzled to hear about the recent comments made byAndre Ethier, who wondered aloud whether he could be with the Dodgers beyond this season.
Colletti said he recently spoke to Ethier's agent, Nez Balelo, about extending the All-Star outfielder's contract. Ethier will earn $9.25 million this year. He won't be eligible for free agency until after the 2012 season.
"I was surprised because it was only a couple of days previous, five days previous, that we had our third or fourth good talk of the spring," Colletti said.
Colletti said he has made clear to Ethier that he wants him to be in Los Angeles.
"He said he wants to be here for a long time," Colletti said. "I said, 'Hey, I'm right with you.'
"I just know that I've never told him anything except, 'You know what? I love having you here. You're the first guy I acquired when I got here. I like how you play. I like who you are. And we want to see you here for a long time. We'll figure out a way how to do it.'"
Balelo issued a statement Wednesday asserting that the Dodgers never presented his client with an offer.
Colletti said he and Balelo got as far as discussing "vague parameters" of a new deal.
Ceremonial first pitch
Fernando Valenzuela threw out the ceremonial first pitch, as was planned, but was joined in the pregame festivities by one of his teammates from the 1981 World Series team.
Another pitcher on that team, Jerry Reuss, was the first to take the mound. Next came the team's manager, Tom Lasorda.
Looking toward the dugout, Lasorda tapped his left arm, as if calling a left-hander out of the bullpen, and out came Valenzuela. Reuss moved behind the plate to catch the toss by Valenzuela.
The "switch" was a reference to how Valenzuela was tabbed the opening-day starter 30 years ago because of an injury to Reuss.