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Joe Torre sizes up new Dodgers

Team's former manager pays a visit and shares his observations of the Dodgers, particularly in comparison to the clubs he managed.

September 01, 2012|By Dylan Hernandez

These Dodgers aren't the same Dodgers Joe Torre used to manage.

"Obviously, ownership changed and things changed," said Torre, who stepped down as manager after the 2010 season.

Torre's Dodgers were always strapped for cash and, as a result, never burdened with the kinds of expectations faced by today's team. But having managed the free-spending New York Yankees for a dozen seasons, expectations are something with which Torre is intimately familiar.

Visiting Dodger Stadium on Saturday as a representative of the commissioner's office, Torre offered some thoughts on his former team, which has added big names but fallen further behind the first-place San Francisco Giants in the National League West.

"Talent aside, they're all human beings," Torre said. "They all put a lot of pressure on themselves. You play this game with pressure. What you hope you don't find a lot of is stress."

How is pressure different from stress?

"Pressure is a part of this game," Torre said. "Pressure is knocking in runs. Pressure is striking a guy out. That goes with the territory. That's what you get paid to do.

"Stress is something that is sort of out of your control. You get stressed out over looking at the finish line. Stress is something that is an outside thing. Stress is an anxiety."

And this is where Torre thinks Manager Don Mattingly could make a difference. Torre brought Mattingly from New York and groomed him to be his replacement,

"He's always such a positive person, which certainly helps because the players sort of feel what you feel," Torre said.

The Dodgers have turned over a significant part of their roster in the last couple of months, but Torre downplayed the importance of clubhouse chemistry.

"I'm in the minority a lot of times," Torre said. "I think that winning creates chemistry, as opposed to other way around. I've been on a lot of friendly teams that couldn't win, trust me."

Three get the call

With rosters expanding, the Dodgers called up their first wave of players from the minor leagues.

Three players were promoted Saturday: reliever Javy Guerra, catcher Tim Federowicz and starting pitcher John Ely.

Guerra, who started the season as the Dodgers' closer, and Federowicz were already on the 40-man roster. But to add Ely, the Dodgers had to move minor league outfielder Alfredo Silverio to the 60-day disabled list. Silverio didn't play this season because of injuries suffered in an off-season car accident.

Of the three players, Ely was the one who made the most significant improvement this season.

He made 23 major league appearances over the previous two seasons, including 19 starts, and was 4-11 with a 5.35 earned-run average.

Something clicked for Ely after he was removed from the team's 40-man roster in the off-season. He was the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League's pitcher of the year this season and could win the league's triple crown of pitching. Ely was 14-7 with a 3.20 ERA in Albuquerque.

"I'm been driving my fastball better, not nit-picking at the edges," he said.

That, in turn, has made his trademark changeup more effective.

Ely could be used as a long reliever or step into the rotation if there is an injury, Mattingly said.

Broadcasters are coming back

Charley Steiner, Rick Monday, Fernando Valenzuela, Pepe Yniguez, Eric Collins and Steve Lyons will return as part of the Dodgers broadcast team next season, the club announced.

Steiner and Monday will continue to work the Dodgers' English-language radio broadcasts, and Valenzuela and Yniguez the Spanish-language radio broadcasts. Collins and Lyons will call televised games outside of California and Arizona.

In the last week, the Dodgers have announced the returns in 2013 of the team's two Hall of Fame broadcasters: Vin Scully and Jaime Jarrin.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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