Spring Training Notes: Grandal’s righty swing, Maeda’s new pitch, A-Gon hurt already, a trade

Yaz has been working on his righty swing, which hopefully includes putting on the correct helmet.

Position players will report to Spring Training today (or at least the ones who aren’t already there), but the significant news is still about the pitchers, with a trade yesterday making the headlines.


After trading Carlos Ruiz away to clear room for Austin Barnes, the Dodgers got lefty reliever depth in Vidal Nuno in return. While Nuno always looked like a serviceable depth option, it was clear he would be behind Grant Dayton, Adam Liberatore, and Luis Avilan in the pecking order, and that doesn’t even count potentially Alex Wood or Hyun-Jin Ryu. Apparently the Dodgers saw that as well and dealt Nuno to the Orioles for 22-year-old right-handed pitching prospect Ryan Moseley.

Moseley was an eighth-round pick out of Texas Tech last year, making just 12 relief appearances in low-A over 2016. Moseley posted a 3.20 ERA in 19.2 innings, striking out 18 and walking nine. It’s difficult to get much of anything out of that, so here’s Kyle Glaser of Baseball America on Moseley:

The Orioles drafted Moseley in the eighth round of the 2016 draft out of Texas Tech and signed him for $150,000. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Texan was expected to be the Red Raiders ace as a junior but was instead demoted to the bullpen because of significant control issues. Moseley primarily relies on a 92-93 mph sinker and a low-to-mid 80s slurvy breaking ball, and he also flashed an average changeup in college. While Moseley’s arsenal is strong on the surface, his well below-average control hampered him in college and followed him to pro ball, where he walked 4.12 batters-per-nine innings at short-season Aberdeen. Opponents have trouble squaring Moseley up when he throws strikes (.191 opponent average, 1.92 groundout-to-airout ratio with Aberdeen), but a ground ball-oriented middle reliever is his ceiling unless he improves his control.

Seems like a rather dime-a-dozen middle relief lottery ticket, and basically just to clear room off the 40-man roster.


Transitioning to pitchers who have actually been with the Dodgers, Rich Hill says he doesn’t expect to have the blister problem again this year.

Rich Hill had a blister problem last season. He does not have a problem with blisters. “There’s also been recalls on Toyotas that are very reliable, you know what I mean?” the Dodgers left-hander said with a chuckle. “I mean, it had never happened before in my career. It was such an outlier that it’s not something I look at and feel is going to be an issue.”

Hill always works hard in the off-season and he did again this year, so he basically expects to make all of his starts, and while he should have that mentality, I’m not convinced even he’s convinced that will happen. Not that it’s a problem, but the Dodgers just have to hope whatever injury that comes doesn’t happen late in the season.

Another pitcher to use the off-season to get work in, Kenta Maeda has supposedly gained 10 pounds and a cutter.

He’s gained 10 pounds of muscle in the past year, thanks to a revamped conditioning and nutrition plan, and is working tirelessly on grips for a cutter he’s added to his pitch repertoire.

Maeda was much less effective against lefties than righties last year, as the latter didn’t enjoy his slider all that much but the former were less bothered. Hopefully the cutter is able to allow him to bore into bat handles to make him more effective against lefty hitters.

Maeda agreed he became vulnerable to lineups the third time around, but had a theory why. “I didn’t know the hitters; it was hard to figure out their tendencies,” he said. “So, what I ended up doing was going all out in the beginning. Now that I know the hitters, maybe I can attack hitters more efficiently.”


Speaking of pitchers … uh, Eric Gagne?

Oh yeah, Clayton Kershaw is the Opening Day starter. Surprise, surprise.


Looking at position players before they start today, the major news is that Adrian Gonzalez is out for two weeks already.

First baseman Adrian Gonzalez was among the position players who reported to camp early Friday. But Gonzalez will not be swinging a bat for two weeks because of tendinitis in his right elbow. Gonzalez said the discomfort – which he described as “tennis elbow” – flared up during his workouts in December and has not gone away.

Yeah … yeah. Sort of at that Catch-22 phase where you need to workout a ton to stay in the shape you were years ago, but if you do workout a ton then you get hurt and can’t workout anymore.

There have been signs of age starting to catch up, and I’m not saying he’s breaking down, but I just hope that Cody Bellinger is as ready as people say.

Aside from A-Gon, there was Yasmani Grandal making adjustments in the off-season, particularily from the right-side, which should be interesting to track.

The challenge intrigued Grandal, who does not, his teammates and coaches say, lack confidence in his ability. He shed some bulk on a team-recommended, plant-based diet. Twice a week he met with former Dodgers hitting coach Jeff Pentland to polish his right-handed swing, and this spring he has already displayed “better leverage in his lower half, and a well-balanced plane for his swing,” hitting coach Turner Ward said. “We made everything so simple and easy, to fix everything we thought we needed to fix,” Grandal said.

Grandal is actually not a bad hitter from the right-hand side. The last two years he has posted higher averages and excellent on-base numbers against southpaws, but batting righty did make him more of a gap hitter than a homer threat. That’s where the emphasis on leverage and lower half comes into play, I’m assuming.


Also, Chase Utley stuff, because no recap is complete without Baseball Dad.

“I’ve never been around a guy that basically any moment in time, on the clubhouse or on the field, is doing something to try and help us win a game,” Friedman elaborated. “Often times it’s about him getting ready for a game, but there are times where he’s watching video of our pitchers, just different things all with the mind of trying to help us win a game.”

“He’s at the top of the list as far as eliminating noise. In baseball there is so much failure and deviation in routines and schedules with weather, travel, playing or not playing,” Roberts said. “Chase is very consistent, as consistent as I’ve ever seen with his mindset, and that has a way of filtering throughout the clubhouse.”

It was also revealed that Utley’s threats against Corey Seager successfully extorted millions out of the Dodgers.

The text messages reached Corey Seager as both a greeting and a warning. “Watch out when I come into second base next year,” Chase Utley wrote on occasion this past winter, when a reunion with the Dodgers looked so unlikely. Even his jokes contain a hint of menace.


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