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Matt Kemp leads trio of Dodgers awarded Gold Gloves

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

Center fielder, who also won one in 2009, is joined by right fielder Andre Ethier and pitcher Clayton Kershaw among National League winners. Angels shortstop Erick Aybar is a recipient in the American League.

November 01, 2011|By Dylan Hernandez
  • Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp, considered a candidate for the National League Most Valuable Player award, was named a 2011 NL Gold Glove award recipient on Tuesday.
Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp, considered a candidate for the National… (Chris Carlson / Associated…)

Clayton Kershaw said he was surprised. Andre Ethier said he was shocked.

Kershaw and Ethier were awarded their first Gold Gloves on Tuesday, joining center fielder Matt Kemp to form the only trio of Dodgers to be recognized by managers and coaches as the league's best defensive players at their position in the same season.

Angels shortstop Erick Aybar also won his first Gold Glove, unseating Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees, who won five of the last seven awards. Aybar had a .980 fielding percentage and 13 errors. He was part of 95 double plays, the most among American League shortstops.

Kemp also won the award in 2009. Kemp is expected to pick up another prize Wednesday when Silver Slugger winners are announced.

Kemp won a Silver Slugger in 2009, as did Ethier.

Ethier said the award he won Tuesday might be more meaningful.

"I think this feels a little bit better because everybody's always told me I'm a good hitter," he said. "No one's ever pointed me out as a good defensive player."

Ethier said receiving this award made him feel better about a frustrating season in which an ailing knee limited him to 11 home runs, 62 runs batted in and 135 games, his lowest totals in those categories since his rookie season.

A right fielder, Ethier benefited from a change in rules this year that stipulated each outfield position would have its own Gold Glove winner. In the past, all outfielders were lumped together in balloting, resulting in an overwhelming number of center fielders being recognized.

"I wasn't aware of the rule changes," Ethier said, explaining his shock.

Kershaw was surprised, but for a different reason.

"You see so many other guys make unbelievable plays," he said, counting teammate and fellow Gold Glove finalist Hiroki Kuroda among them.

Like Kemp, Kershaw is also up for a most prestigious prize. On Nov. 17, he will learn whether he won the National League Cy Young Award.

"I'm anxious to hear who won," Kershaw said. "At the same time, it's out of my control."

Juan Rivera and Dodgers are near a deal

Juan Rivera and the Dodgers are closing in on a one-year contract that would include a team option for 2013, according to people familiar with the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deal isn't expected to be completed until later this week.

Rivera, 33, was General Manager Ned Colletti's bargain find last season.

Acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays in mid-July, Rivera hit .274 with five home runs and 46 RBIs in 62 games for the Dodgers. With Rivera starting in left field and protecting Kemp in the lineup, the Dodgers were 45-28 over their last 73 games.

The Dodgers paid Rivera less than $200,000 for his services, as the Blue Jays agreed to cover what remained of his $5.25-million salary. Rivera was designated for assignment by the Blue Jays, for whom he hit .243 with six home runs and 27 RBIs in 70 games.

If the Dodgers re-sign Rivera with the intention of starting him again, the Dodgers would be closing the door on first baseman James Loney's potential move to left field. Loney has offered to switch positions if the Dodgers land free agent Prince Fielder off-season.

Loney is in the final year of salary arbitration and in line for a raise from the $4.875 million he was paid this year. The Dodgers have until Dec. 12 to decide whether to tender him a contract for next season.

Sue Falsone: A pioneer

Sue Falsone said she knew she was making history when the Dodgers appointed her their head athletic trainer. But she said she has been overwhelmed by the hundreds of messages of support she has received since word leaked out last week that she would become the first woman in major league history to hold the position.

"I'm feeling really humbled, really blessed by it all," Falsone said.

Falsone, 37, traveled with the Dodgers from 2007 to 2010 as their physical therapist. Based on that experience, Falsone said she didn't have any reservations about accepting her latest appointment.

Although she said her gender has never affected her working relationship with players, she said it's something she is mindful of. She said she doesn't walk through the clubhouse when players are dressing.

"I respect them and respect their space," she said.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

Times staff writer Mike DiGiovanna contributed to this report.

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