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DODGERS FYI 2009-04-23


DODGERS FYI 2009-04-23
One quirky feature of the Houston Astros' Minute Maid Park is "Tal's Hill," a 30-degree, 90-foot-wide grassy incline that rises from the outfield warning track to the wall in center field.

That makes the hill -- named after Tal Smith, the Astros' head of Baseball operations -- a treacherous section for visiting center fielders such as the Dodgers' Matt Kemp.

"I wouldn't want it in my stadium," Kemp said before Wednesday's game against the Astros. "I don't want to go up that thing. It's too dangerous."

Kemp, 24, said he doesn't quite "practice" on the hill before games, such as fielding balls hit to that area. But he does walk on and around the slope to get a sense of its proximity to the wall and to his normal playing position.

"You got to count your steps, but there's really no kind of practicing when you're trying to go up a hill and catch a ball," he said.

So far, Kemp -- now in his second full year in the big leagues -- hasn't had to traverse Tal's Hill during a game, which is fine by him.

The closest he has come was Tuesday night, when the Astros' Jason Michaels hit a ground-rule double to center field. "It bounced over the fence, so I didn't get a chance to go up the hill," Kemp said.

If he had, Kemp might have found another intriguing feature of Minute Maid Park: The U.S. flagpole is erected on Tal's Hill -- in play.

"There's a lot of weird things going on out there in center field," Kemp said.

Dodgers security

The Dodgers said they "reaffirmed their commitment" to security at Dodger Stadium in the aftermath of a stabbing attack in a parking lot after the team's home opener April 13.

Noting that spectators are not allowed to take alcohol to the stadium, the team said it would "increase its signage and patrols in the parking lots to ensure continued enforcement of this policy," starting with the homestand that starts April 30.

The Dodgers said its concessions partner, Levy Restaurants, would "reinforce their commitment toward responsible alcohol service." Alcohol sales stop in the seventh inning.

"These policies underscore our commitment to preserving the environment that families seek," Dodgers President Dennis Mannion said in a statement.

Baseball business

The Dodgers and Angels rank among the six most valuable franchises in Baseball, Forbes magazine reported.

In its annual report on Baseball's finances, Forbes estimated the Dodgers' value at $722 million, behind that of only the New York Yankees ($1.5 billion), New York Mets ($912 million) and Boston Red Sox ($833 million).

The Chicago Cubs rank fifth at $700 million, followed by the Angels at $500 million.

Forbes estimated the Dodgers' profit last season at $16.5 million and the Angels' profit at $10.3 million.

Short hops

The Dodgers end their three-game series with Houston tonight, with Chad Billingsley (3-0) facing Wandy Rodriguez (1-1). The Dodgers then play three games against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field in Denver, with Eric Stults the Dodgers' scheduled starting pitcher Friday, followed by James McDonald and Clayton Kershaw. . . . Ramirez' home run Wednesday against Houston was his 531st, ranking him 17th all-time and three behind Jimmie Foxx in 16th place

Times staff writer Bill Shaikin contributed to this report.

--

james.peltz@latimes.com


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 23, 2009

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