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Dodgers Dugout: An update on Andrew Toles

Andrew Toles during a 2018 exhibition game.
(Associated Press)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and, while I know the Dodgers were just swept by the Padres (for the first time in the last 45 series between the two) and I know they played with all the emotion of a three-toed sloth, we are going to turn our attention away from the on-field Dodgers for this edition. If they lose three of four (or worse) to the Cubs (or worse) there will be a lot to say in Monday’s newsletter.

Although baseball and the Dodgers are great ways to distract ourselves from the day-to-day struggles of the real world, sometimes we have to take a step back and remember that major league players have their struggles, too. Case in point: Andrew Toles.

If you remember, Toles was arrested last year after he was discovered sleeping behind a building at Key West International Airport in Florida. He was homeless and taken to a mental health facility.

Andrew Toles in 2018
(Associated Press)

Bob Nightengale of USA Today recently caught up with Toles’ family, and you can read his column about that here. Some of the highlights:

—Toles is in the care of his father, Alvin, who says Andrew, 29, is in a “zombie-like” condition.

—Toles is unaware that the Dodgers won the World Series last year.

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—"We are having challenges,” Alvin said, “but nothing that God and I can’t handle. Schizophrenia, it’s just so tough. I mean, he can’t even watch TV. He hears voices and the TV at the same time, so it’s kind of confusing. I’ve seen him looking at some baseball games on his laptop, but I don’t think he really understands what’s going on. I just want him to have a chance in life. That’s all. Just to be healthy, live a normal life.”

—"At least we’re not worrying whether he’s alive,” his sister, Morgan, said.

The Dodgers have kept Toles under contract so that he can maintain his health benefits. I’d guess that almost all of us have a friend or family member who has suffered from a mental illness. While it seems unlikely that Toles will ever play in the majors again, let’s hope that can just enjoy life again. And if things work out perfectly and he’s able to return to Dodger Stadium one day to throw out the first pitch or just wave from the stands, let’s hope there’s a sellout crowd on hand to give him a standing ovation.

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All-Star game voting

The latest All-Star game voting results have been released, and Dodgers are doing very well. (If you want to vote on the official ballot, go here.)

There are two phases of voting this year. In the first phase, pretty much every regular starter is on the ballot at their position in each league. Fans vote until 1 p.m. PT today, when the top three at each position (plus the top nine outfielders) advance to phase two of voting, which will determine who will start. Here are the leaders at each position through Monday:

First base

1. Max Muncy, 22%

2. Freddie Freeman, Atlanta, 17%

3. Anthony Rizzo, Chicago, 13%

4. Eric Hosmer, San Diego, 8%

5. Jesús Aguilar, Miami, 7%

With Muncy returning against the Padres, it looks like he will indeed advance to the next round.

Second base

1. Ozzie Albies, Atlanta, 18%

2. Adam Frazier, Pittsburgh, 12%

3. Gavin Lux, 11%

4. Nico Hoerner, Chicago, 10%

5. Jean Segura, Philadelphia, 9%

Lux is about 32,000 votes ahead of Hoerner to be the last second baseman to advance to the next round.

Third base

1. Kris Bryant, Chicago, 29%

2. Nolan Arenado, St. Louis, 15%

3. Justin Turner, 13%

4. Austin Riley, Atlanta, 10%

5. Manny Machado, San Diego, 9%

Looks like the top three here will skate through to the next round.

Shortstop

1. Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego, 36%

2. Javier Báez, Chicago, 15%

3. Corey Seager, 10%

4. Brandon Crawford, San Francisco, 9%

5. Trea Turner, Washington, 6%

Crawford is surging and is only 46,000 votes behind Seager for the final spot in the next round. But does it really matter, since Tatis is going to easily get the starting nod no matter who the final three are?

Outfield

1. Ronald Acuña Jr., Atlanta, 15%

2. Nick Castellanos, Cincinnati, 11%

3. Jesse Winker, Cincinnati, 9%

4. Mookie Betts, 8%

5. Chris Taylor, 4%

6. Juan Soto, Washington, 3%

7. Joc Pederson, Chicago, 3%

8. Bryce Harper, Philadelphia, 3%

9. Tyler O’Neill, St. Louis, 3%

Taylor moved up a spot into fifth and should easily advance to the next round.

Catcher

1. Buster Posey, San Francisco, 30%

2. Yadier Molina, St. Louis, 16%

3. Willson Contreras, Chicago, 13%

4. Will Smith, Dodgers, 11%

5. William Contreras, Atlanta, 5%

Smith trails the final spot by 73,000 votes.

As of now, the only Dodgers who won’t be advancing to phase two of voting are Smith and AJ Pollock, who is 14th among outfielders. Because of his lack of playing time, Cody Bellinger is not on the ballot this season.

The All-Star game will be Tuesday, July 13 on Fox.

Alex Verdugo

Boston Red Sox's Alex Verdugo celebrates his three-run home run during the fifth inning.
Alex Verdugo celebrates a three-run home run for the Red Sox.
(Associated Press)

Before we get to our weekly “These names look familiar” feature, which has been surprisingly popular, a note about Alex Verdugo. Many of you have emailed to say I am forgetting to include Verdugo in the list. A reminder that the list is only of former Dodgers from last season’s team. Verdugo did not play for the team last season. He was, however, included in last season’s “These names look familiar.” The feature is basically to see if the Dodgers would be playing better or worse if they had kept last season’s team fully intact.

However, colleague Jorge Castillo caught up with Verdugo recently, and wrote about him here. Some highlights:

—Verdugo still uses “Volver Volver” as his walkup song with Boston. “It doesn’t get appreciated as it did in L.A., for sure,” Verdugo said, “but Boston fans have been coming around.”

—As Castillo writes, “The Red Sox traded Mookie Betts and David Price for two minor leaguers and Verdugo — a 23-year-old outfielder with 144 major league games and a recent back injury on his resumé. People were furious, and that’s putting it lightly. It was widely evaluated as the franchise’s worst trade since Babe Ruth was sold to the New York Yankees. ‘I understood why Boston fans were mad,’ Verdugo said. ‘You can take it however you want. You can dwell on it. Like, ‘Oh, God, I gotta be Mookie. I gotta perform.’ No, for me, it’s just I know I’m a good baseball player. I know I can be an All-Star. I know I can hopefully one day get a batting title. There was no pressure with me, personally, with the Mookie trade.’

—The Red Sox love Verdugo. “He’s probably the most complete hitter that we have,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “He can go the other way, he can hit for average, he can hit for power.”

Back to your host here. Verdugo is a very good player, of that there is no doubt. He is currently hitting .289/.345/.458 with 14 doubles, nine homers and 32 RBIs, good for an OPS+ of 118. But to get quality you have to give up quality. I’d rather have Betts (he’s hitting .252/.367/.462, with 19 doubles, nine homers and 28 RBIs, good for a 132 OPS+), but hope Verdugo does well against everyone except the Dodgers.

These names look familiar

A look at how players from the 2020 Dodgers who are no longer on the team are faring this season (through Wednesday):

Pedro Báez, Houston, On the 60-day IL with shoulder soreness

Dylan Floro, Miami: 2-4, 3.72 ERA, 2 saves (29 IP, 27 hits, 12 walks, 24 strikeouts)

Kiké Hernández, Boston: .235/.297/.401 (16 doubles, 1 triple, 6 HRs, 19 RBIs, 89 OPS+)

Adam Kolarek, Oakland: 8.00 ERA (9 IP, 15 hits, 5 walks, 4 strikeouts), in minors

Jake McGee, San Francisco: 2-2, 3.26 ERA, 14 saves (30.1 IP, 22 hits, 6 walks, 36 strikeouts)

Joc Pederson, Chicago Cubs: .243/.303/.456 (7 doubles, 2 triples, 11 homers, 32 RBIs, 110 OPS+)

Josh Sborz, Texas: 3-3, 4.82 ERA, 1 save (28 IP, 24 hits, 13 walks, 38 strikeouts)

Ross Stripling, Toronto: 2-4, 4.33 ERA (60.1 IP, 57 hits, 17 walks, 65 strikeouts)

Alex Wood, San Francisco: 6-3, 4.09 ERA (66 IP, 58 hits, 21 walks, 65 strikeouts)

Up next

Tonight, Chicago Cubs (Zach Davies, 4-4, 4.66 ERA) at Dodgers (Walker Buehler, 7-0, 2.38 ERA), 7 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570

Friday, Chicago Cubs (Jake Arrieta, 5-8, 5.45 ERA) at Dodgers (Tony Gonsolin, 0-0, 3.00 ERA), 7 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570

Saturday, Chicago Cubs (Alec Mills, 3-1, 5.18 ERA) at Dodgers (*Julio Urías, 9-0, 3.99 ERA), 4:15 p.m.., Fox, AM 570

Sunday, Chicago Cubs (Adbert Alzolay, 4-6, 3.19 ERA) at Dodgers (*Clayton Kershaw, 8-7, 3.43 ERA), 4 p.m., ESPN, AM 570

*-left-handed

And finally

Vin Scully discusses how he became a baseball fan. Watch it here.

Until next time...

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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