10/17/09 5:58 PM ET
Dodgers ready to weather Philly's chill
Experience helps LA deal with cold forecast, hostile fans
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
The Dodgers weren't whining about the conditions Saturday after an overnight flight. They got a feel for the elements in a drizzly afternoon workout. Batting practice was held in the indoor cage, but pitchers played catch in the outfield and infielders took grounders on the slick infield.
Just because the Dodgers come from Los Angeles doesn't mean all the Dodgers come from Los Angeles. Only two of the active 25 players are native Californians, while they have one -- Russell Martin -- who grew up in Canada.
"Being Canadian doesn't mean you don't get cold," Martin said. "It just means you know how to dress in the cold."
That's where Mitch Poole comes in. As Dodgers clubhouse manager, it's his job to make sure they have the proper apparel.
"I talked to the people at Majestic and they provided us with extra hoodie sweats -- they're made of fleece -- that have division champs on it," said Poole. "Toward the end of the season, we got 25 full parkas, mainly for the bullpen and whoever else wants it. We got these Elmer Fudd hats with the extension that covers the ears and some of the guys might wear them in the game."
Poole, however, said he's not aware of any player who will wear thermal underwear.
"They're wearing the Nike tights," he said. "They wick the moisture off the body. No one wears thermals anymore. It's the new technology. The tights are thinner and can be worn under the uniform and they are more like skin. And the trainers have available mini heat packs that the players can put in their pockets to keep their hands warm."
In the dugout, the Dodgers will have a heat blower, as well as any other equipment being used in the home dugout, as Major League rules dictate.
"If guys aren't careful, they can get hurt," said Poole. "Last year, Derek Lowe got too close to it here and it melted his socks onto his leg. It was like shrink-wrapped."
Left-hander Randy Wolf, who played nine seasons in Philadelphia, but never in October, said he dealt enough with cold Pennsylvania Aprils to know it's no big deal, even for a San Fernando Valley guy.
"I'd rather pitch in the cold than the heat," said Wolf, who starts Game 4 on Monday night. "I hate it in Florida and Atlanta, where it's hot and humid. I feel a lot more energy in the cold. And you get to blow on your hand, which provides a little moisture. And if a guy hits one off the end of the bat, it can hurt for two innings."
Which reminds manager Joe Torre of one of his teammates.
"I think it favors the pitcher. I think it does," Torre said. "I remember ... Bob Gibson pitching in San Francisco. We used to watch it and enjoy it, especially when you're on his side, because nobody wanted to hit against him.
"Hitting is a little bit tougher. The tough thing about pitching is obviously the feel of the ball. If it gets really cold, then all of a sudden the ball becomes a little slicker and you may not be able to have the command you'd like to have, especially if you're a touch-and-feel guy. So it affects both, but I don't know of any hitter that really enjoys hitting in cold weather."
A bigger issue for the Dodgers figures to be dealing with the hostile Phillies fans. They were active participants in last year's NLCS, when the Dodgers lost Games 1 and 2 in Philly and seemed rattled when a brush-back war broke out.
"Having played here last year helps," Torre said. "Last year, we were blanked here in the regular season and the postseason. But the last game we played here this year we won.
"This is a tough town. Boston is another. New York has so much going on all the time. But a lot of it is that they dealt with failure for so long, they've become cynical."
One key for the Dodgers' thorough victory in St. Louis last Saturday was to score early and take the Cardinals fans out of the game, and keep scoring to keep them out of the game. Mark Sweeney, now a coach, said the same holds for the Phillies fans, with one big exception.
"The ideal situation is to turn the fans around and get them to get on the Phillies, and these fans can do that," Sweeney said. "When it comes time for their bullpen, there will be a lot of uneasy fans, and if [Brad] Lidge gives up a hit, he's going to hear about it. These fans love you, but they can turn on you.
"When people talk about the psychological aspect, it comes into it a lot. We've got to put ourselves in position to use those fans against them."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.