Sunday, May 21, 2006

Sports: In praise of Grady Little

Everyone is down on the NL West.

Its probably justified.

The Padres, Dodgers, Giants, Rockies and Diamondbacks take turns beating up on each other which leaves the division with teams a tad over and a tad under .500.

Post-game Dodger-talk fans are taking to Grady Little and sport talk shows are having fun with his gravelly voice. One show inter-cut a Grady Little interview clip with a clip from Forrest Gump.

After a dreadful start, manager Little has been willing to mix things up to see what happens.

One of the biggest moves he made recently was to shake up the batting lineup. He moved Garciaparra to third, Drew to fourth and Kent to fifth.

Little has been playing the prospects. Partly, it is out of necessity because of injuries to the team. However, Little knows he needs to give his veterans an occasional day off to keep them in top shape for the long season ahead. The kids have been delivering big time and there is excitement among Dodger fans once again.

Lastly, Little has been willing to tinker with the bullpen. The "conventional wisdom" is 7th inning set-up guy, 8th-inning set-up guy and then bring in your closer for the 9th. That plan wasn't working so Little occasionally lets a reliever go more than one inning to get a save which he did with Baez recently and with Saito and Beimel.

Gagne is slated for some minor league rehab outings to test out his recovery from surgery. The talk is that when he returns to the majors, Little will not ride him as hard as the Dodgers did in 2002-2005 (Gagne pitched in 77, 77 and 70 games those years). Little, having seen some of the other guys in the bullpen get some save experience, knows he won't have to trot Gagne night in and night out.

Here's hoping the Dodgers can keep up the good play and be in the hunt for October!

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