Notes: Mueller gets coaching taste
Former batting champ takes shot at hitting instruction
LOS ANGELES -- As the Dodgers' new batting coach, Bill Mueller is "interim" in every sense of the word.Neither he, nor Dodgers management, knows if it will work or how long it will last. Mueller, who retired as a player over the winter and moved directly into a front-office role as special assistant to the general manager, has never coached at any professional level until Friday, when he was in uniform as the replacement for former teammate Eddie Murray. He took the front-office job because it was structured to allow plenty of time at home with his family in Arizona, and now he's back in the daily grind of the Major Leagues, travel and pressure and all that. "I had to think long and hard about it," Mueller said as he was about to oversee batting practice. "My family is the No. 1 priority. I knew when I took on the role in the front office, it was because it allowed for a balanced life. [General manager Ned Colletti] gave me time to spend at home. I enjoyed that. We'll have to see how it goes." Mueller said his offensive approach will reflect the skills and style of each hitter, and he was not obsessed with squeezing more power out of each hitter. "The guys know what they're capable of," Mueller said. "We'll continue to work collectively and they'll get better. Those things take care of themselves." Mueller, a former batting champ, said the hitting coach that made the biggest difference for him was Ron Jackson in Boston. "He had me raise my hands and that was a big thing for me," Mueller said of Jackson, now in the Houston Minor League system and considered a possible candidate for the permanent job with current Dodgers Minor League instructors Bill Robinson and Mike Easler. Mota reinstated: The hitting coach shakeup also ended the semi-exile of longtime coach Manny Mota. The popular Mota was taken off the road this year, reassigned to community service work when the team was gone while continuing to assist hitters while the team was home. Now he's back on the travel squad to assist Mueller. According to club officials, Mota's absence on the road was a result of Major League Baseball's crackdown on teams dressing more than six coaches in uniform.
Rotation set: Manager Grady Little, utilizing two days off in a five-day span, finally announced his rotation for the coming two series on the road. Brad Penny will pitch on Tuesday in Toronto, followed by Hong-Chih Kuo and Jason Schmidt. Derek Lowe will be held back until Friday night against Tampa Bay, followed by Randy Wolf and Penny.That means Penny will pitch on five days' rest, Kuo on seven, Schmidt on four and Lowe and Wolf on six. "We'll use the time to give Lowe a break with his arm," said Little. "We'll keep Jason Schmidt on as regular a schedule as we can. And splitting up the left-handers [Wolf and Kuo] is the biggest part. Plus, the break will do Derek nothing but good for his arm." Another factor -- Lowe is 5-8 with a 5.31 ERA in Toronto, but he's 9-3 with a 3.05 ERA at Tropicana Field. DH not set: Little said he wasn't sure who would serve as designated hitter for the upcoming road series in Toronto and Tampa. Olmedo Saenz (twice) and Russell Martin (once) served as DH in the three games at Anaheim last month. Injury update: Chin-hui Tsao threw off a mound for the first time since suffering a shoulder injury and now is expected to return much faster than Yhency Brazoban, who suffered a "setback" with his injured shoulder and has been shut down, with an examination scheduled for Monday. Little said Marlon Anderson, on an injury rehab assignment with Triple-A Las Vegas, has no pain in his surgically repaired elbow and is close to returning. Minor League update: Pitcher James McDonald and catcher Lucas May will represent Class A Inland Empire in the California/Carolina League All-Star Game on Tuesday in Stockton. McDonald is 4-5 with a 3.88 ERA. May has 11 homers and 49 RBIs in 62 games. Class A Great Lakes outfielder Bridger Hunt and reliever Francisco Felix were promoted to Inland Empire, and Inland Empire reliever Ramon Troncoso was promoted to Double-A Jacksonville. Father's Day Catch: Fans with a ticket to Sunday's game may participate in the fourth annual Father's Day Catch. Immediately following the game, fans may take the field, where they will be given a turn to play catch. Entrance onto the field will only be allowed through the center-field gates. A souvenir foam ball, along with 5,000 Dodgers blue bandanas, will be provided to participants at the event courtesy of Macy's. Baseballs and softballs are prohibited. During the pregame ceremony, a group of fathers who won the opportunity through Macy's will be taking the field in place of the kids who typically join each Dodgers player at their position before the start of the game. Coming up: Jason Schmidt (1-3, 6.43 ERA) opposes Jered Weaver (5-3, 4.14) on Saturday as the Freeway Series resumes at Dodger Stadium.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.