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Dodgers

Column: Was Dodgers’ Ross Stripling really OK with leaving the mound with a no-hitter going?

Ross Stripling

Dodgers starter Ross Stripling throws out the Giants’ Brandon Crawford at first base on a bunt attempt during the second inning Friday night.

(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Whether it was Manager Dave Roberts or his bosses upstairs who made the decision, the call to set a hard 100-pitch limit on Dodgers rookie right-hander Ross Stripling was made with the best of intentions.

“A no-brainer,” Roberts said to reporters of the decision to remove Stripling from the game Friday night after 7 1/3 innings with a no-hitter still intact.

The plan was designed to protect Stripling’s surgically repaired throwing elbow and, by extension, his future earnings.

Stripling later said he agreed with the pitching change, even though the bullpen blew a two-run lead and sent the Dodgers crashing to a 3-2 defeat against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park.

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Then again, Stripling was making his major league debut. It’s not as if he had the resume or leverage to publicly question his manager.

For his sake, I hope Stripling meant what he said.

The organization’s position was perfectly understandable. The Dodgers have invested time and money in Stripling and wanted to protect their asset.

But this wasn’t their decision to make. It was Stripling’s.

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Only Stripling could say what was right for him -- to safeguard his financial future or to pursue a childhood dream.

It’s his career. It’s his life.

Now, I hate to break the news to you, but most players would choose money over on-field glory. Baseball isn’t a game for them. It’s a profession. Considering what Stripling had to endure over the last two years to come back from elbow surgery, I would be surprised if he had a problem with being taken out. And if he didn’t have a problem, this is a non-issue.

But you never know.

Yes, the outcome of the game was still in question and Roberts had an obligation to the other players to preserve the lead. At the same time, hadn’t Stripling earned the right to win or lose the game?

As Roberts removed the baseball from Stripling’s hand, I thought back to Joe Torre, the former Dodgers manager.

“The game belongs to the players,” Torre used to say.

Only now, their position is weakening.

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Scouts were diminished by the rise of analytically inclined front offices. There’s now a growing sense around the game that something similar is happening to players.

And that would be unfortunate. The quest to be “smart” shouldn’t come at the expense of why people watch the games in the first place.

Baez continues to improve

Along with the resurgence of Yasiel Puig, the most positive development for the Dodgers has been the continued development of right-hander Pedro Baez.

A converted third baseman, the hard-throwing Baez is starting to look like a future closer.

Baez has given up a run in three appearances, but the numbers only tell a small part of the story. One scout who has seen Baez multiple times this year said he has shown a significantly improved slider and changeup. The scout said he considered both pitches to be below-average as recently as last season.

Poking the Spurs

An ESPN the Magazine story on Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr included this gem: Kerr sometimes refers to the rival San Antonio Spurs as “White Walkers,” a reference to the zombie-looking characters in “Game of Thrones” who can reanimate corpses and make them their subjects.

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Out of position

The spread of the 4-3-3 system has pushed the No. 10 to the brink of extinction in soccer. With the middle of the field more congested than ever, most teams would prefer to have their most talented players on the wings rather than tucked behind their forwards.

But if you’re Spanish giant Real Madrid and you spent $90 million on James Rodriguez, shouldn’t you play him where he’s best suited?

Real Madrid’s practice of purchasing big-name players and lining them up out of position is not only head-scratching, but also ineffective. In addition to entering this weekend trailing archrival Barcelona by seven points in La Liga, Real Madrid dropped a shocking 2-0 decision to Wolfsburg of Germany in the first leg of their European Champions League quarterfinal series.

Punch line

All-time boxing greats Roberto Duran and Julio Cesar Chavez are scheduled to fight a two-round exhibition on a July 23 pay-per-view card headlined by 140-pound champion Terence Crawford, Lance Pugmire of The Times reported. Duran will be 65 and Chavez 54. I really, really, really hate to admit it, but I’m intrigued.

Follow Dyland Hernandez on Twitter: @dylanohernandez


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