Thursday, November 26, 2020

February 7, 2020  LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Dodgers are headed to spring training with added firepower for an already potent offense and pitching rotation. After being quiet most of the winter, they pulled off a blockbuster deal a week before camp that is set to land them Mookie Betts and David Price from the Boston Red Sox.

Outfielder Betts, the 2018 AL MVP, is considered the second-best position player in baseball behind Mike Trout of the rival Angels. Price was runner-up for the 2015 AL Cy Young Award. The three-team trade that had yet to be announced Friday requires the Dodgers to send outfielder Alex Verdugo to Boston and RHP Kenta Maeda to Minnesota.

The Dodgers have won seven straight NL West titles. They haven’t won a World Series since 1988, losing to Houston in 2017 and to Betts and the Red Sox in 2018.

Pitchers and catchers report to Glendale, Arizona, on Feb. 13.

NEW LOOK

Betts will slot well into a lineup led by reigning NL MVP Cody Bellinger. Betts hit .295 a year after winning the 2018 AL MVP. The offense led the National League with 886 runs scored, a .472 slugging percentage and 279 home runs. LHP David Price solves the departures of LHPs Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu. The 34-year-old has pitched well after missing parts of the 2017 and 2019 seasons with wrist and elbow injuries. LHP Alex Wood returns on a $4 million, one-year deal after being a Dodgers starter and an All-Star in 2017. RHP Blake Treinen was signed to a $10 million, one-year deal in an effort to bolster the bullpen. The hope is he avoids the injuries that derailed his 2019 season and regains his 2018 form when he had an 0.78 ERA and earned All-Star honors with Oakland.

THEY’RE SET

RHP Walker Buehler and LHP Clayton Kershaw represent the youth and experience of the rotation. Buehler’s fastball tops out at 96 mph and he mixes it with a curveball and a slider. Last season, he struck out nearly 30% of the hitters he faced. Kershaw isn’t what he once was, but he still possesses an elite slider and curveball as well as pinpoint command and control. With Hyun-Jin Ryu off to Toronto and Maeda set to leave, the other three spots in the rotation are up for grabs. The team has limited LHP Julio Urias to 184 innings over four seasons to protect his durability, but he’s shown top-caliber stuff at age 23.

THEY’RE NOT

The bullpen merits watching. Sure, it posted a 3.85 ERA that was lowest among NL relievers. But it was second in the NL with 29 blown saves last season. Closer Kenley Jansen is coming off an inconsistent 2019, when home runs and walks were big problems for him. The 32-year-old right-hander is also showing signs of declining velocity. Two of the team’s three losses in the NLDS were tagged to the relief corps.

ROOKIES TO WATCH

2B Gavin Lux was a September callup last year after hitting .347 in the minors. RHP Dustin May showed fastball velocity and strong command in his MLB debut last year. RHP Tony Gonsolin figures to compete for a starting job this spring after a solid MLB debut in 2019. C Keibert Ruiz has solid offensive and defensive skills. SS Jeter Downs hit .276 with 24 stolen bases in the minors last year.

ON DECK

The Dodgers open the season at home on March 26 with a three-game series against the rival San Francisco Giants. They host the All-Star Game on July 14 for the first time since 1980.

PARIS (AP) — A Congolese activist was fined 2,000 euros ($2,320) on Wednesday for trying to take a 19th-century African funeral pole from a Paris museum in a protest against colonial-era injustice that he streamed online. A Paris court convicted Emery Mwazulu Diyabanza and two other activists of attempted theft, but the sentence stopped far short of what they potentially faced for their actions at the Quai Branly Museum: 10 years in prison and 150,000 euros in fines. Activists and defense lawyers viewed the case as a trial about how former empires should atone for past crimes. Diyabanza’s museum action took place in June, amid global protests against racial injustice and colonial-era wrongs unleashed by George Floyd’s death in the U.S. Floyd, a Black man in handcuffs, died May 25 after a white police officer pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for several minutes while Floyd said he couldn’t breathe.

LONDON (AP) — Herbert Kretzmer, the journalist and lyricist best known for his English-language adaptation of the musical Les Miserables, has died. He was 95. His family confirmed Wednesday that Kretzmer died after a long illness with Parkinson’s disease at the London home he shared with his second wife, Sybil Sever. Tributes poured in from giants of the London stage, including theatrical producer Cameron Mackintosh, singer Elaine Paige and lyricist Tim Rice. Les Miserables producer Mackintosh said Kretzmer was instrumental in bringing Victor Hugo’s classic tale of defiance and redemption in early 19th century France to the stage in English in October 1985, five years after it had opened in Paris.

NEW YORK (AP) — Stevie Wonder released two new songs Tuesday reflecting the current times that he hopes inspires change. The piano-playing icon dropped the tracks “Where Is Our Love Song” and “Can’t Put It In the Hands of Fate,” which he also announced would be released through his new label So What the Fuss Music, distributed through Universal Music Group’s Republic Records (Wonder was signed to Motown Records for the majority of his career).

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Conchata Ferrell, who became known for her role as Berta the housekeeper on TV’s “Two and a Half Men” after a long career as a character actor on stage and in movies, including “Mystic Pizza” and ”Network,” has died. She was 77. Ferrell died Monday at Sherman Oaks Hospital in Los Angeles following cardiac arrest, according to publicist Cynthia Snyder. Ferrell soldiered through more than a decade on “Two and a Half Men,” playing opposite Charlie Sheen and Jon Cryer until Sheen was fired from the sitcom for erratic behavior that included publicly insulting producer Chuck Lorre.