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KAPLER BRINGS PROGRESSIVE PHILOSOPHY TO DODGERS WINTER DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM

“I think in the past it’s been driven by the camp on the field, and guys have had an opportunity to display their athletic prowess. We leaned heavily against that this year in favor of creating a more mentally inviting environment. We wanted our players to stay on their off-season programs, their throwing programs, their strength and conditioning programs and not ramp up in the middle of winter to impress physically. Rather, we wanted them to be open-minded and flexible and nimble of thought and be excited about coming in to share sort of a unique experience, where there was going to be a ton of information passed back and forth, group discussions and just sort of talk shop, to a degree.”
—Dodgers director of player development Gabe Kapler, on shifting the focus of the club’s Winter Development Program towards mental development rather than physical development. Among the sessions held during the three-day program was a presentation by director of baseball operations Alex Tamin on how the front office uses advanced statistics. (Dylan Hernandez, Los Angeles Times)

“Some of it is a little new as far as what they’re really looking for, (but) when you hear Alex and you hear these guys talk about it and you get further in depth about the numbers, you start putting things together,” Dodger pitching prospect Zach Lee said. “I kind of had a little problem with last year, trying to get over some things mentally, when errors or things didn’t necessarily go the right way, rather than taking three or four pitches to reset, kind of resetting right away. And you realize that those things don’t really matter in the long run. Just continue to execute, continue to do things the way you’re taught to do, and things will work themselves out.”
—Dodgers pitching prospect Zach Lee, on the presentation that Tamin made. During the session, Kapler periodically interjected and offered his perspective on the advanced statistics. (Jon Weisman, MLB.com)

“That’s what I’ve grown up with,” Law said. “You score a lot of runs, hit for a high average and you’re going to be successful. But hearing this from Gabe and the other front-office personnel, it really opened my eyes to what they’re looking at. The biggest takeaway that I had from that session was probably what Gabe said last, about putting a good at-bat together. I’m no mathematician, and so all of the numbers (can be) hard to make sense of, but if I can put together a good at-bat, hit the ball hard, that’s when (things) will happen.”
—Dodgers minor league outfielder Adam Law, the son and grandson of major leaguers Vance Law and Vern Law, on the session explaining how the front office uses analytics.

“It’s tremendously important, particularly at the lower levels, but even at the upper levels because cultural assimilation for us organizationally is as important as probably any other element of player development,” Kapler said.
—Kapler, on the organization’s decision to expand each of the minor-league coaching staffs to include a Spanish-speaking coach.

“The baseball was nearly the same, but I was really out of my element because I was very used to communicating in the clubhouse. When that element was removed for me, I felt very out of my skin and being out of my skin translated to poor performance on the field.”
—Kapler, on how his experiences playing baseball in Japan influenced the decision to implement expanded coaching staffs at each level.

“We are inspired to ask the question why—one of the things that is frustrating is doing things the way they’ve always been done, just for the sake of tradition. We want to do things because they make sense.”
—Kapler, on the organization’s developmental mission. (Jon Weisman, MLB.com)

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“The story [my wife] tells is I was holding a Sprite can on the plane and I went to open it and I had to kind of grab it sideways because I couldn't support the weight of a Sprite can. Jars were not happening either because anything that required my arm twisting wouldn't work. I had to hand it to my wife.”
—Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright, on the elbow discomfort that bothered him towards the end of last season and eventually led to surgery in late October. (Jenifer Langosch, MLB.com)

“[It will] give the young kids down there a chance to dream like Oscar did of someday playing in the big leagues and getting their start on that field. There was so much outreach and a tremendous following for Oscar down there, I think this will be a nice symbol of what he meant to that area, and I think it's the appropriate place to do it.”
—Cardinals principal owner Bill DeWitt Jr., on the club, in conjunction with Cardinals Care, planning to finance the renovation of a baseball field in Sousa, Dominican Republic, the hometown of the late Oscar Taveras. (Jenifer Langosch, MLB.com)

“It just requires intentional communication and consistent communication. I'm with Josh now, he doesn't even need to put down a sign. I can go a whole game without him flashing a whole sign—that's remarkable. To get to that place with another person is going to be a real challenge, but it's not that it can't be done, Russell just needs to get repetitions. He's an incredible athlete. Guys who are great athletes, have great hand-eye coordination, which he possesses, usually … have a better chance at doing it well.”
—Blue Jays starting pitcher R.A. Dickey, on catching a knuckleball pitcher and the possible scenario of transitioning from Josh Thole to Russell Martin as his catcher this upcoming season. (Gregor Chisholm, MLB.com)

“This is the only question I'll answer about it because I just want to look forward. For me, I'm from Georgia. I grew up playing baseball in that state. I grew up watching the great teams of the '90s and got to play for a Hall of Fame manager that helped build that organization. For me, I was never opposed to (staying). There wasn't a lot of time put in on their part, I feel like, getting to know me as a person and getting to know my mindset on it. They had their ways and their operations, how they wanted to go about it, and they followed through. Here I am in a good situation, and I'm definitely not complaining.”
—Cardinals outfielder Jason Heyward, on never having serious conversations with the Braves front office about a contract extension. Heyward indicated that he’s open to discussing a long-term contract that would keep him in St. Louis. (Derrick Goold, St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

“It was going to be a very tight schedule. We were hopeful we could maybe find some time in the process. We didn't find the time. We were hoping the steel delivery date might get moved up, (but) it didn't… It's going to be hard for people to understand because they're going to see the concrete and it needs a month to (solidify).”
—Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney, after announcing that the Wrigley Field bleachers will be closed until at least May 11th. The bleacher sections have undergone extensive renovation in recent weeks. (Mark Gonzales, Chicago Tribune)

“If you [use a pitch clock] you take the beauty out of the game. There's such a cat-and-mouse game as far as messing up hitters' timing, messing up pitchers' timing. Different things that fans and people that have never played this game don't understand. I feel like if you do add a clock it just takes all the beauty away from the game. I think you're going down a path you don't want to go down… It's a beautiful sport. There's no time limit, there's no shot clock. There's no nothing. For me, I've always been a big believer in the fans know what they're getting themselves into when they show up. If it's a three-hour game it's a three-hour game. If it's a five-hour game it's a five-hour game.”
—Cubs starting pitcher Jon Lester, voicing his opposition to the proposed “pitch clock” that would limit the amount of time between pitches. (Jesse Rogers, ESPN.com)

“I have to move. I have to do something that doesn't involve negative things. I'm not that kind of person.”
—Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro, on his decision to move away from the Dominican Republic. Castro was reportedly at the scene of two shootings in December, and has described the situations as “life-threatening.” (Mark Gonzales, Chicago Tribune)

“After reflecting the last week and conferring with the Hall of Fame, we've come to the decision that the Diamondbacks logo on my Hall of Fame plaque makes the most sense. I want to express my most sincere thanks to all the teams I played for — Montreal, Seattle, Houston, the New York Yankees and San Francisco — and particularly all of the fans for supporting me. I'm very humbled by this honor.”
—Former starting pitcher Randy Johnson. (Zach Buchanan, AZCentral.com)