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About Jon
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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
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5) discussing politics
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The Proving Ground: Kinkade and Brown
2003-02-17 06:51
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

Just a few quick notes today:

On the encouraging side: Mike Kinkade. Coming off a little preview, with an OPS of 1.083 in 50-plus plate appearances, not only has Kinkade been told that he doesnÕt have to win a roster slot this spring, but heÕs responding to the news by working harder.

"I'm coming down to make the team, that's my goal," Kinkade told the media. "Everybody wants to have a starting job and play every day in one spot. That's not going to be my role on this team unless something happens. My goal is to make it as a utility player."

There was a report that Kinkade has been working out a catcher, in addition to infield and outfield. IÕm a little skeptical about that - itÕs not like the Dodgers donÕt have a poor-fielding backup catcher in Todd Hundley - but I love the attitude.

***

In all honesty, I wonder if Kevin Brown has to earn a job this spring. The sentiment is that the Dodgers are tired of Brown dictating his recovery and when he is going to pitch, but that sentiment, for all I can tell, may only be coming from the beat writers. I donÕt know if the Dodgers are ready to seize the upper hand with Brown, especially considering their relaxed attitude, justified or not, toward his not working out for the team this winter and not arriving at Spring Training until today (at the earliest).

The players and staff are defending him. I wonder what theyÕll be saying about Brown five years from now. Maybe he is just as great a guy behind the scenes as they say. Not even Gary Sheffield popped off about him, as far as I know.

Anybody ski? ThereÕs an issue that comes with skiing - you buy an expensive lift ticket, and then you decide after an hour that itÕs too cold or youÕd just as soon stay indoors. Some people feel that once theyÕve spent all that money, they have to justify the expense by skiing all day. But a better philosophy is, youÕve spent the money, you might has well have the best day you can have - whether youÕre indoors or out.

Kevin BrownÕs lift ticket has been purchased. If heÕs a starting pitcher, great. If heÕs a reliever, oh well. If the conditions arenÕt that great, well, letÕs just have the best day we can. But letÕs not struggle hopelessly in a bad blizzard.

***

It also pleases me that the Dodgers havenÕt forgotten how truly miserable they were at bunting last year, and have made it an early issue in Spring Training. (Can anyone point me to some bunting stats?)

Reports say Kazuhisa Ishii won the first bunting competition of the spring. Since he bailed out of the plate last year like he was afraid of getting hit by the ball -- and that was before he got hit by the line drive on the head -- this is doubly encouraging. Unless all the other Dodger pitchers have become even skittish themselves.

***

Have you been reading about Tommy LasordaÕs comments about Felipe Alou. Are we supposed to take Lasorda seriously?

ItÕs never ceased to amaze me that professional athletes need bulletin board material to motivate them. I canÕt believe there is a level of effort that is held in reserve until someone from some other team pops off about them. And yet, you hear about this stuff all the time.

The combination of being mad at the speaker, and feeling insecure about whether you are doing your best, could inspire me to play harder (although frankly, I might just believe him and get depressed). But IÕm an amateur. WouldnÕt you think the pros would be above all this?

Guess not.
***

Brian Jordan is quoted as saying more little ball is coming. ÒWe shouldn't have to sit back and wait for the three-run home run. We're going to do a lot more."

I think I could find a quote like this every year from more than one Dodger. I know this was supposed to be a big part of Bill RussellÕs approach as manager, and IÕve heard Tracy advocate it as well.

But itÕs like the bunting thing. ItÕs all well and good to want to hit and run - who doesnÕt want to send a runner from first to third on a single? But unless you teach these guys to do it -- and apparently, major leaguers still need to be taught -- it ainÕt gonna happen. So hopefully, itÕs being taught this year, not just talked about. Think Mike Scioscia would leave the Angels to become a hit-and-run coach here?

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