March 06, 2010
Stew lieutenant David Brown shifts focus to Arizona as spring training continues. Dave's desert swing began Saturday with a stop at massive Camelback Ranch in Glendale to check out the Los Angeles Dodgers.
What's up, SoCal Stewies!
Dodgers slugger Matt Kemp(notes) might try getting comfy in the second spot in the lineup, manager Joe Torre says. Fine. But what's going underreported at Dodgers camp? Their newfangled batting helmets that look kind of like — there's no getting around this — a 'roided-up Manny Ramirez(notes).
Actually, it's just a novelty hat. Kemp (and no other Dodgers, either) will be wearing this during league play. It was created by a fan, who loaned the prototype to Kemp so he could strut around filled with mirth for a few minutes.
"Oh, I LIKE this," Kemp said. "I'm keeping it." He gave it back.
I'm not sure if there will be a market for this Manny hat but I think Sid and Marty Krofft are smiling at its design. It also looks like a Rock 'em Sock 'em Robot. Or if Manny were of the Pac-Man race. Or maybe an Aztec warrior.
As for Kemp hitting second, as he did from time to time in 2009, Torre wants to make it a permanent move.
"My thinking is, he'll be hitting in front of some thunder, so he'll get some pitches to hit," Torre said. "And he can do some damage if he gets some pitches to hit."
In 60 plate appearances from the No. 2 hole in '09, Kemp hit .291 with a .770 OPS. He did his most damage hitting seventh (.936 OPS in 195 plate appearances) and eighth (1.114 in 87 trips).
Kemp is not your grandfather's No. 2 hitter. He's a slugger, not one for bunting or hitting behind runners. Torre recalled that the likes of Don Mattingly and Alex Rodriguez(notes) hit second early in their careers.
"That second spot has changed its personality a lot," Torre said. "Years ago, when you had Pee Wee Reese hitting second, yeah, his job was to move the runner to second. Now, you want to move the runner all over the diamond and score.
"It comes with the philosophy of stacking all your good hitters at the top."
No bunting for Kemp, either.
"We don't want Matt Kemp to give himself up," Torre said. "He's been much more disciplined that I thought he would be. He's only going to get better, this kid. He's certainly not satisfied with just what he did last year.
"Matt's becoming an issue on his own, where guys don't want to go ahead and challenge him. [Batting second] also gives him an opportunity to utilize his speed."
Neat patch on Dodgers uniforms this season commemorating, well, you can figure it out. It's been 55 years since the Bums won their first World Series. Brooklyn can be a touchy subject as it relates to contemporary Dodgers history, but I like the bridge silhouette a lot. Does L.A. have any bridges? Or just overpasses?
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