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Downing and Lyons Get the Booth
2005-01-20 22:34
by Jon Weisman

A year ago, we were flared up for the Dodger ownership change. Things have been a little more sedate this week. But still, there's news ...

  • Al Downing and Steve Lyons complete the odd reconfiguration of the Dodger broadcast team, as Daily News columnist Tom Hoffarth predicted late last month.

    "They will work the 40-45 road games that Vin Scully will miss," according to Larry Stewart in Friday's Times. On those occasions, newcomer Charley Steiner, handling the play-by-play, will team with Lyons on television, and Rick Monday will team with Downing on radio.

    "When Scully is there for the 110 or so other local telecasts, Steiner and Monday will be the radio team, although for the first three innings, Scully's call will again be simulcast on TV and radio. When Monday works with Steiner, he'll be the commentator. When he works with Downing, he'll do the play-by-play."

  • Stewart also adds that Scully will appear on the T.J. and Tracy Simers radio show at 9 a.m. on XTRA 690/1150 AM:

    Why would Scully subject himself to such a thing?

    "A lot of people may not realize this, but as the father of three married daughters, I was T.J.'s secret advisor when his other daughter [Kelly] got married," Scully said. "The big question was, should he spend the extra money on covered chairs or go with uncovered chairs. I told T.J., 'If you don't cover the chairs you will hear about it for the rest of your time on this mortal coil.' "

    But, really, why would Scully subject himself to a double team from Simers and his daughter?

    "Well, if it doesn't go like I hope it will go, there's always phone failure," Scully said.

  • Five pitchers earned non-roster invitations from the Dodgers to Spring Training. Steve Henson has the details:

    Left-hander Kelly Wunsch made more than 200 appearances with the Chicago White Sox from 1999-2003 but sat out nearly all of last season because of a shoulder injury. Another left-hander, six-year veteran Mike Venafro, made 17 appearances for the Dodgers last season.

    Right-hander Aquilino Lopez had 14 saves with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2003 but spent much of last season at triple A. Right-hander Ryan Rupe made 83 starts from 1999-2002 with the Tampa Devil Rays and spent last season in Japan.

    Another right-hander with limited major league experience, Buddy Carlyle, also has pitched in Japan.

    Lefties Wunsch and Venafro, along with righty Lopez, would appear to have the best shot at grabbing a spot on the staff for Opening Day - but any number of these guys could end up in AAA Las Vegas.

  • As a longtime fan of Pedro Astacio, I was intrigued by this report by Tom Singer of

    ... last year Astacio was still in the final stages of recovery from the major shoulder surgery he underwent in June 2003, and his recent impressive, albeit brief, Winter League stint in the Dominican Republic was heavily scouted by clubs shopping for pitching. Some have concluded that his may be the best arm remaining on the open market.

    According to newspaper reports in the teams' respective cities, the Mariners, Rockies and Rangers all have strong interest in Astacio.

    A 12-game winner as recently as 2002 with the New York Mets, Astacio's upside intrigues clubs still looking for starting help. An ironman who averaged 210 innings in the five-year span from 1996 through 2000, Astacio has since exceeded 190 innings only once.

    The pit stop with shoulder problems -- which included tears in the rotator cuff and labrum -- has, oddly enough, kept stress off and extended the life of his arm, giving him a new lease on his career.

    I asked baseball medical reporter Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus and if there was any legitimate hope for an Astacio comeback.

    "There's SOME indication that players take two years to come off labrum surgery," Carroll said. "It's a very small sample set and not the best even at that.  Think (Gil) Meche or (Chris) Carpenter, falling off a cliff at some point and you get the picture."

  • Remember my quest to find the inaugural winners of the Cable Ace Awards? Points to Sam Broderick-Sokol for delivering.

    As for that other contest, which proved to be purely about how much campaigning a blog's author and audience could bear, it appears Dodger Thoughts finished in second place. It took a great many people to make that happen - so thank you very much.

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