Catching up with some other spring training notes from the first day of camp at Camelback Ranch...
Matt Kemp said even if the Baseball Writers Association of America would re-vote for the 2011 National League Most Valuable Player if Ryan Braun's suspension gets upheld, Kemp wouldn't want to win the award that way. I wrote a little bit more about that at SB Nation LA.
Kemp's session also provided two of the funniest moments of day one, as he set a goal of 50 home runs and 50 stolen bases for himself for 2012. When asked if that goal was a little high, Kemp playfully chided Tony Jackson of ESPN LA for predicting Kemp would not reach his 40/40 goal in 2011. "I was right," Jackson replied, to laughter.
The other moment of levity came when it was suggested that Kemp, with his new $160 million contract, could join one of the ownership groups vying for the Dodgers. When told that the purchase price for the franchise could be as high as $2 billion, Kemp was shocked and quipped, "I thought I was rich."
Tony Gwynn Jr. is also in camp early (position players report next Monday, February 27) and had great news to report regarding his father. Tony Gwynn Sr. underwent a 14-hour surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from his cheek last week, and is home now recovering. Gwynn Jr. said his father is in good spirits, and that he plans to return to managing the San Diego State baseball team in a month, though Gwynn the younger noted a more realistic timetable might be two months.
Jerry Sands doesn't necessarily need to win an everyday spot in the lineup to make the opening day roster, but Mattingly said he needs to have a certain number of plate appearances to justify a spot on the big league roster, as the club wants Sands to play nearly every day. While Mattingly shied away from committing to a plan of sitting Andre Ethier and Loney against southpaws, the manager said that figuring out a way to get Sands enough at-bats will be one of his projects in camp.
Don Mattingly said Dee Gordon was his leadoff man and Kemp would bat third, but that the rest of the lineup is not yet fully decided. Mattingly said Ethier would likely hit cleanup against right-handed pitchers and that Juan Rivera could hit cleanup against lefties. Mattingly said Mark Ellis will get the first shot at batting second,though Mattingly wouldn't mind James Loney or even Sands hitting in the second spot in the lineup.
Mattingly would have been fine with a platoon of A.J. Ellis and Rod Barajas at catcher for 2012, but the plan changed when Barajas signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Mattingly said Ellis "has always been an on-base guy" and that he was the type of player he would never want to sell short given his work ethic. Mattingly compared Ellis to Jamey Carroll in that "you don't appreciate him until you see him every day." Ellis will be the everyday catcher, as Mattingly described Matt Treanor's role as that of a true backup, more like Brad Ausmus in 2009-2010.
The backup shortstop will be Jerry Hairston Jr., as Mattingly wants to keep Juan Uribe at third base. Should Dee Gordon go down for any extended period of time, the club would turn to Justin Sellers.
Steve Yeager was at Dodgers camp today as well. Though he won't travel with the team during the season, longtime Dodgers catcher will work with L.A. backstops this season while the team is at home.
Ron Cey is also expected to show up to Camelback Ranch at some point this spring to provide instruction during camp.
Pitchers throwing bullpen sessions on Wednesday and every other day through Sunday: Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, Jamey Wright, Fernando Nieve, Chris Withrow, Josh Lindblom, Michael Antonini, Ryan Tucker, Ronald Belisario, Scott Rice, Wil Ledezma, Angel Guzman, Jose Ascanio, and Shane Lindsay. The other 16 healthy pitchers in camp (not counting Rubby De La Rosa and Blake Hawksworth) will throw bullpens on Thursday, Saturday, and Monday. Ted Lilly was originally scheduled in the first group but will be out a few days as his wife gave birth to a baby girl on Tuesday, Nora Grace Lilly.