Dodgers Dugout: The Max Muncy puzzle solved itself
Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and before we get started, let’s take a moment to think about those who gave their lives in service to this country.
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Last week, we wondered what to do about Max Muncy. On Saturday, a solution presented itself. The Dodgers put Muncy on the 10-day IL because of inflammation in his left elbow, the same elbow that was seriously injured at the end of last season. Most of Muncy’s at bats will be given to Edwin Ríos.
Muncy was batting .150/.327/.263 with three homers in 168 plate appearances. Ríos is hitting .263/.300/.513 with six home runs in 80 plate appearances. The only thing Muncy really could do effectively this season was draw walks (note his on-base percentage is higher that Ríos’ despite having the worst batting average among qualifiers in the majors).
Earlier in the week, before the team put him on the IL, manager Dave Roberts said Muncy’s elbow has been bothering him all year and became worse when he bumped into a wall in foul territory last Monday.
“He’s been going through it and trying to figure it out himself,” Roberts said. “Just with the extra workload and everything like that, and getting it banged [this week] and stuff like that, maybe this might be some way that we can take a step back.”
Roberts added: “Obviously the player doesn’t want to do that. But I think potentially for him and for us, it might be the best course of action.”
“I’ve been grinding through some things,” Muncy said Saturday. “But unfortunately I’ve been trying to put my body on the line, and I just need to take a step back for a couple days and just reset and give my body a chance to heal up. It just flared up a little bit. [Going on the IL will] just give it a chance to calm down. It also happens to come at a good time mentally. Just take a step back, let it heal and come back ready to help this team win going forward.”
So, the spotlight now belongs to Ríos, whose 2021 season was ruined by a shoulder injury. Seems likely he will do very well.
To replace Muncy on the active roster, the Dodgers promoted Kevin Pillar from triple-A Oklahoma City.
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Ask Tim Leary
Former Dodger pitcher Tim Leary, a standout on the 1988 World Series championship team, has answered a few of the many reader questions that were sent in. Leary was acquired along with Tim Crews from the Milwaukee Brewers before the 1987 season in exchange for Greg Brock. He went 3-11 with a 4.76 ERA in 1987 before an excellent 1988 when he went 17-11 with a 2.91 ERA and six shutouts. He was 6-7 with a 3.38 ERA when the Dodgers traded him and Mariano Duncan to the Cincinnati Reds for Kal Daniels and Lenny Harris.
Leary was also a heck of a hitter, and fans of that 1988 team will remember the time he pinch-hit in the 11th inning of a 1-1 game with the San Francisco Giants. With the bases loaded and two out, Leary laced a Joe Price pitch up the middle for the walk-off win. He won the Silver Slugger award that season after hitting .269 with three doubles and nine RBIs. And he hit .304 in 1987.
Thanks to Tim for taking the time to do this.
From Ed Donaldson: You were such a good hitter, could you have been a two-way player in today’s game?
Leary: There is no way that I could have been a two-way player. Not now or ever. The things that Shohei Ohtani are doing now are absolutely incredible. So much so that I have been going to Angels games this year just to see in person.
From Steve Fjeldsted: Did you ever experience any uncomfortable moments or difficulties from being mistaken for hippie guru Timothy Leary?
Leary: When I was a student at UCLA from 1976-1979 it seemed like every professor commented on my name. Other than that I’ve had a few remarks over the years. The other Tim Leary spoke at UCLA in 1978 so I went to see what he had to say. I remember him talking about interplanetary travel. True story. LOL
From Joseph Russell: What did you find the most interesting aspect about playing pro baseball, and what was different about your Dodger experience compared to other organizations?
Leary: The most interesting part of being a pro baseball player for 15 years is the people. I met people from every region of the U.S. and most of Canada [as I played minor league baseball in Vancouver and Ottawa, plus Montreal, Toronto and all the visiting teams in the PCL that are in Canada.] Going to the Dodgers in 1987 was a massive step up from the Mets and the Brewers in that the Dodgers were a true family organization. From owner Peter O’Malley to Tommy Lasorda on down the line. Truly an incredible organization during that time period. No other organization came close, and they were above first class.
From Bruce Davidson: You had a great 1988 and were pitching well in 1989 when you were traded to Cincinnati. Did the trade come as a surprise?
Leary: We knew there was a good chance of a trade when John Tudor was coming off the DL. Since I was acquired during Al Campanis’ time as GM it made sense that I would be traded. Huge disappointment for me as I loved being a Dodger.
From Brett Kuhn: Do you have a favorite memory of Tommy Lasorda?
Leary: When I think of Tommy Lasorda, the one big thing that stands out is that he could really tap into a player’s passion for the game. If you really wanted to get the most out of your ability, then he was the all-time best at bringing that to the surface.
From Tony Watson: As a pitcher who could hit, what are your thoughts on the DH in the NL?
Leary: Personally I don’t like the DH. However, I never batted in my three years of college at UCLA and didn’t really have a say in the matter. To me the most fun part of baseball in youth leagues is hitting, by far. Hitting at the major league level is incredibly challenging and I was fortunate to get fastballs that were hittable until teams realized I could hit a first-pitch fastball.
From Michelle Jones: What are you doing nowadays?
Leary: I coach locally in Santa Monica and the Westside of LA. Kids age 12 and up. I was born to coach and enjoy the kids and their development.
His number’s up
Now that he has been elected to the Hall of Fame, Gil Hodges’ number (14) will be retired by the Dodgers on June 4 before the game. The opponent will appropriately be the New York Mets.
Hodges number will take its place among those previously retired: Pee Wee Reese (1), Tommy Lasorda (2), Duke Snider (4), Jim Gilliam (19), Don Sutton (20), Walter Alston (24), Sandy Koufax (32), Roy Campanella (39), Jackie Robinson (42) and Don Drysdale (53).
Hodges, who died in 1972, will be represented at the ceremony by son Gil Jr., and daughter Irene.
The last Dodger to wear No. 14 was Kiké Hernandez. Other former Dodgers to wear 14 include Mike Scioscia, Delino DeShields, Len Gabrielson and Freddie Fitzsimmons.
In his last five appearances, Craig Kimbrel has pitched 4.1 innings, giving up five runs (10.38 ERA), six hits and two walks while striking out eight. The good news is he saved four games during that span and has not blown a save this season or allowed any inherited runners to score. Part of the problem could be that, with the Dodgers having such a high-powered offense, Kimbrel can go several days between appearances. Here are his days off between games this season: 6, 2, 5, 5, 0, 1, 3, 5, 2, 0, 2, 0, 5.
Former Dodger retires
Catcher Russell Martin, who hasn’t played since spending the 2019 season with the Dodgers, officially announced his retirement Saturday. Martin played for the Dodgers in 2006-10 and again in 2019, hitting a solid .268/.362/.391. He was named to two All-Star teams and won a Gold Glove while with L.A. He also made the All-Star team with the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays. He also pitched in four games for the 2019 team, giving up only two hits and striking out two in four shutout innings.
“After 14 years in the @mlb,” Martin wrote, “I am officially retiring from professional baseball. Timeless memories that I will cherish forever. I had the chance to play for great organizations such as the @dodgers @yankees @pittsburghpirates and @bluejays. I want to thank everyone that has played a part in my baseball journey.... Now I’m excited to enter a new chapter. I found a new passion in golf. That’s where I fulfill my competitive needs.... It’s also time for me to spend more time with my beautiful family. Baby #3 is a few weeks away.”
Because I’m an idiot
During the top prospects recap last time, I wrote that Jorbit Vivas hit 144 homers last season. That would probably have made him the No. 1 prospect instead of No. 8. He of course hit 14, not 144. I do these types of things from time to time to make sure you all are paying attention. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
The last two weeks
Let’s see how everyone has been doing the last two weeks:
Mookie Betts: .389/.476/.889, 6 doubles, 7 homers, 15 RBIs
Trea Turner: .353/.400/.593, 2 doubles, 1 triple, 3 homers, 17 RBIs
Freddie Freeman, .328/.391/.517, 8 doubles, 1 homer, 16 RBIs
Cody Bellinger, .282/.378/.359, 3 doubles, 4 RBIs
Gavin Lux, .318/.375/.364, 2 doubles, 4 RBIs
Edwin Ríos: .256/.310/.487, 3 homers, 7 RBIs
Chris Taylor, .235/.291/.549, 3 doubles, 2 triples, 3 homers, 8 RBIs
Will Smith, .214/.333/.452, 1 double, 3 homers, 7 RBIs
Hanser Alberto, .235/.235/.294, 1 double
Justin Turner, .273/.347/.523, 5 doubles, 2 homers, 6 RBIs
Max Muncy, .152/.300/.182, 1 double, 1 RBI
Austin Barnes, .133/.278/.333, 1 homer, 1 RBI
Kevin Pillar, .000/.000/.000, 3 at-bats
Team: .280/.358/.4971, 32 doubles, 3 triples, 23 homers, 6.29 runs per game.
Tony Gonsolin, 2.25 ERA, 12 IP, 6 hits, 3 walks, 14 K’s
Julio Urías, 0.82 ERA, 11 IP, 6 hits, 3 walks, 8 K’s
Tyler Anderson, 0.86 ERA, 21 IP, 17 hits, 1 walk, 21 K’s
Walker Buehler, 3.27 ERA, 11 IP, 12 hits, 4 walks, 7 K’s
Ryan Pepiot, 4.32 ERA, 8.1 IP, 5 hits, 6 walks, 10 K’s
Mitch White, 4.70 ERA, 7.2 IP, 6 hits, 4 walks, 7 K’s
Daniel Hudson, 0.00 ERA, 5.1 IP, 1 hit, 0 walks, 5 K’s, 2 saves
Justin Bruihl, 0.00 ERA, 5 IP, 4 hits, 2 walks, 3 K’s
Brusdar Graterol, 1.42 ERA, 6.1 IP, 4 hits, 3 walks, 4 K’s
Yency Almonte,1.80 ERA, 5 IP, 5 hits, 1 walk, 5 K’s
Evan Phillips, 1.59 ERA, 5.2 IP, 6 hits, 3 walks, 7 K’s
Alex Vesia, 2.08 ERA, 4.1 IP, 5 hits, 1 walk, 6 K’s
Phil Bickford, 4.15 ERA, 4.1 IP, 7 hits, 0 walks, 4 K’s
David Price, 4.15 ERA, 4.1 IP, 7 hits, 0 walks, 7 K’s
Craig Kimbrel, 10.13 ERA, 5.1 IP, 7 hits, 2 walks, 10 K’s, 5 saves
Team: 12-2, 2.51 ERA, 125.2 IP, 105 hits, 34 walks, 126 K’s
Andrew Heaney, LHP, left shoulder discomfort. Heaney threw a 50-pitch bullpen session Thursday and was scheduled to face hitters Sunday. The hope is he will be back in mid-June.
Max Muncy, IF, left elbow inflammation: We discussed him above.
Note: Now that we are past May 2, the 10-day IL becomes the 15-day IL for pitchers and two-way players only and will remain that way for the rest of the season. Non-pitchers will still go on the 10-day IL.
Clayton Kershaw, LHP, SI joint inflammation. He played catch Thursday and should throw off the mound sometime this week. The hope is to have him back mid-to-late June.
Danny Duffy, LHP, left elbow. He is throwing pain free and could be back after the All-Star break. Back being a relative term since he has never actually pitched for the Dodgers.
Victor González, LHP, left elbow inflammation. Transferred to the 60-day IL last week. He had arthroscopic surgery and he could return in August.
Tommy Kahnle, RHP, forearm discomfort. He won’t resume throwing until the first week of June but is expected back at some point this season.
Dustin May, RHP, Tommy John surgery. May is throwing off a mound and has begun to mix in breaking pitches among his fastballs. He is still scheduled to be back in August or September.
Jimmy Nelson, RHP, Tommy John surgery. It is extremely unlikely that he pitches for the Dodgers this season.
Blake Treinen, RHP, right shoulder discomfort. He hasn’t thrown for a couple of weeks and probably won’t be back until well after the All-Star break.
The current 26-man roster:
These names seem familiar
A look at how players who were with the Dodgers last season are doing this season for other teams (through Sunday):
Matt Beaty, Padres, 37 at-bats, .108/.175/.189, 9 OPS+, on IL with a shoulder injury
Josiah Gray, Nationals, 5-4, 5.08 ERA, 51.1 IP, 45 hits, 25 walks, 54 K’s
Kenley Jansen, Braves, 3-0, 3.48 ERA, 20.2 IP, 11 hits, 7 walks, 29 K’s, 12 saves
Joe Kelly, White Sox, 0-1, 9.53 ERA, 5.2 IP, 8 hits, 6 walks, 8 K’s, on IL with hamstring injury
Corey Knebel, Phillies, 1-4, 3.15 ERA, 20 IP, 16 hits, 10 walks, 19 K’s, 8 saves
Sheldon Neuse, A’s, 159 at-bats, .239/.297/.321, 85 OPS+
AJ Pollock, White Sox, 111 at-bats, .216/.246/.333, 66 OPS+
Albert Pujols, Cardinals, 73 at-bats, .219/.329/.411, 116 OPS+
Jake Reed, Mets, 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 3 IP, 0 hits, 2 walks, 2 K’s, back in minors
Keibert Ruiz, Nationals, 135 at-bats, .281/.338/.385, 112 OPS+
Dennis Santana, Rangers, 2-1, 1.84 ERA, 14.2 IP, 7 hits, 2 walks, 8 K’s, 1 save
Max Scherzer, Mets, 5-1, 2.54 ERA, 49.2 IP, 36 hits, 11 walks, 59 K’s, on 15-day IL with strained left oblique
Corey Seager, Rangers, 177 at-bats, .237/.306/.435, 114 OPS+
Yoshi Tsutsugo, Pirates, 113 at-bats, .177/.281/.257, 57 OPS+, on the 10-day IL
Andrew Vasquez, Blue Jays, 0-0, 7.20 ERA, 5 IP, 4 hits, 3 walks, 6 K’s
Tonight: Pittsburgh (Zach Thompson, 2-4, 5.50 ERA) at Dodgers (Walker Buehler, 6-1, 2.91 ERA), 7 p.m., SportsNet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020
Tuesday: Pittsburgh (TBD) at Dodgers (*Julio Urías, 3-4, 2.49 ERA), 7 p.m., SportsNet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020
Wednesday: Pittsburgh (Jose Quintana, 1-2, 2.15 ERA) at Dodgers (Mitch White, 1-0, 4.60 ERA), 5 p.m., SportsNet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020
Stories you might have missed
IL-bound Max Muncy says elbow has been a factor in slow start but isn’t excuse
The Craig Kimbrel experience: How the Dodgers closer flips the switch from fun to fierce
Ross Porter interviews Shawn Green. Watch and listen here.
Until next time...
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