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Buehler finishes 3rd in NL Rookie of the Year

MLB.com @kengurnick

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler on Monday finished third in voting for the National League Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award behind Atlanta's Ronald Acuna Jr. and Washington's Juan Soto.

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler on Monday finished third in voting for the National League Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award behind Atlanta's Ronald Acuna Jr. and Washington's Juan Soto.

:: NL Rookie of the Year voting totals ::

Buehler went 8-5 with a 2.62 ERA in 24 games (23 starts) with 151 strikeouts, 37 walks and a .193 opponents batting average. The only Dodgers rookie starters with an ERA that low were Fernando Valenzuela and Hideo Nomo, both of whom won the award. Buehler's finish is the highest for a Los Angeles pitcher since Nomo won in 1995.

Buehler ranked among the best in the Majors as a starting pitcher, ranking fifth in ERA (2.31), third in opponents average (.185), second in opponents OPS (.531), fifth in WHIP (0.92) and third in hits per nine innings (5.94). His WHIP was the lowest for rookie pitchers with at least 20 starts since 1913.

Buehler had a 2.03 ERA in the second half and had the second-lowest opponents batting average in MLB after the All-Star break. His 0.83 WHIP at home was the best in MLB. He allowed two earned runs over his last four regular-season starts, including a one-hit shutout for 6 1/3 innings in the NL West tiebreaker game, which Los Angeles won against the Rockies.

Video: COL@LAD: Buehler allows 1 hit, K's 3 over 6 2/3

On May 4, he started and pitched six innings of the first combined no-hitter in Dodgers history against San Diego in Monterrey, Mexico.

Video: LAD@SD: Buehler, bullpen combine for no-hitter

Although votes must be submitted before the postseason, Buehler started the Dodgers' Game 7 win in the NL Championship Series clincher to advance to the World Series and threw seven scoreless innings in Game 3 of the World Series.

The Dodgers have produced more NL Rookies of the Year (18) than any other club, including the previous two, Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger.

Ken Gurnick covers the Dodgers for MLB.com.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Walker Buehler

How Dodgers fared in AFL on Tuesday

MLB.com

Here's a team-by-team breakdown of how all 30 teams' prospects fared in Arizona Fall League action on Tuesday:

Gameday: Glendale 2, Surprise 9 | Mesa 3, Peoria 14 | Salt River 2, Scottsdale 4

Here's a team-by-team breakdown of how all 30 teams' prospects fared in Arizona Fall League action on Tuesday:

Gameday: Glendale 2, Surprise 9 | Mesa 3, Peoria 14 | Salt River 2, Scottsdale 4

AL East

Blue Jays (Surprise)
Blue Jays No. 4 prospect Nate Pearson earned his second win of the fall after tossing five scoreless innings, allowing four hits and walking two. No. 22 prospect Santiago Espinal was 2-for-4 with a run, while Cavan Biggio (No. 9) was 0-for-3 with a walk and a run. Zach Jackson allowed two hits in a scoreless inning of relief.

Tweet from @MLBPipeline: Big Nate looking 💪 in the @MLBazFallLeague again. After firing 4 perfect frames in his last start, #BlueJays No. 4 prospect Nate Pearson has tossed 4 scoreless today.Gameday: https://t.co/2BlKTkrPJp pic.twitter.com/70ABROZCsP

Orioles (Glendale)
Steve Wilkerson was 2-for-4 for his third multihit game in his last four contests, while Jay Flaa had a strikeout and allowed a hit in a scoreless inning of relief. Catcher Martin Cervenka was 0-for-3 with a walk.

Rays (Peoria)
Both Rays prospects in action had huge days at the plate, with No. 7 prospect Ronaldo Hernandez going 3-for-4 with his first triple of the fall, an RBI single and three runs scored. No. 9 prospect Lucius Fox also went 3-for-4 and scored two runs, hitting a double and an RBI single to go with a walk. More »

Video: Lucius Fox on strong game, confidence in Fall League

Red Sox (Mesa)
Red Sox No. 7 prospect Darwinzon Hernandez allowed a trio of inherited runners to score but struck out the side to escape the fourth inning. Other Boston prospects didn't fare as well. Josh Taylor was tagged for four runs on five hits in an inning of relief, while No. 10 prospect Josh Ockimey and Esteban Quiroz were a combined 0-for-7.

Yankees (Glendale)
Hobie Harris struck out two in a scoreless inning, while Kyle Zurak yielded an unearned run while allowing a walk and a hit in 1 2/3 frames.

AL Central

Indians (Glendale)
Indians No. 6 prospect Yu Chang singled, walked and scored, and outfielder Connor Marabell was 1-for-5. While Dalbert Siri pitched a shutout inning out of the bullpen, starter Justin Garza didn't fare so well in a wild outing, allowing four hits and walking four as he was charged with four runs in 1 1/3 innings.

Royals (Surprise)
Nick Heath extended his hitting streak to four games with a 2-for-4 showing in which he doubled and scored a pair of runs. Arnaldo Hernandez allowed two hits and a walk but threw two scoreless innings out of the bullpen.

Tigers (Mesa)
Tigers No. 8 prospect Daz Cameron had multiple hits for the fifth time in his last seven games with a 2-for-5 performance that brought his fall average to .324. Daniel Pinero was 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored, while Daniel Woodrow was 1-for-4 with an RBI single.

Twins (Salt River)
Twins No. 18 prospect Travis Blankenhorn struck out three times but singled for his first hit in four games. Adam Bray pitched 1 2/3 innings of relief but allowed two runs on two hits.

White Sox (Glendale)
Laz Rivera, the No. 28 prospect in the White Sox system, hit an RBI single, while No. 9 prospect Luis Alexander Basabe was 1-for-4 with a walk and Luis Robert (No. 4) was 1-for-5. Danny Dopico had a forgettable relief outing, allowing three runs on three hits and a walk in one inning.

AL West

A's (Mesa)
Luis Barrera tripled for the first time this fall and scored a run, and Jake Bray allowed three runs (two earned) in an inning of relief.

Angels (Mesa)
Ryan Clark and Daniel Procopio each struck out a batter in a perfect inning of relief.

Astros (Scottsdale)
Abraham Toro, Houston's No. 21 prospect, hit his first triple of the fall and walked twice in a 2-for-3 afternoon that raised his OPS to 1.017. Center fielder Ronnie Dawson was 1-for-3 with a walk.

Mariners (Peoria)
Mariners No. 2 prospect Evan White struck out in the first inning before he was replaced by Weston Wilson in the second inning. No. 20 prospect Ian Miller had an RBI single to go with a run-scoring groundout and a bases-loaded walk, and Chris Mariscal was 0-for-3 with a walk and a run.

Rangers (Surprise)
Charles Leblanc was 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored.

NL East

Braves (Peoria)
The Braves had a busy and productive day, with six of their prospects in action. Braxton Davidson hit a three-run homer, his league-leading sixth of the fall, as he went 1-for-4 with a walk. No. 6 prospect Cristian Pache was 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI single, and No. 23 prospect Izzy Wilson also tacked on an RBI single. Jeremy Walker allowed an unearned run in a four-inning start to notch his first win of the fall, and Adam McCreery closed out the victory with a scoreless ninth. No. 12 prospect Kyle Muller yielded two runs in 1 2/3 innings.

Marlins (Salt River)
Marlins No. 2 prospect Monte Harrison was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, while Kyle Keller took the loss in relief after being charged with two runs on two hits and two walks in two-thirds of an inning.

Phillies (Scottsdale)
Starting pitcher Tyler Viza pitched five scoreless frames and struck out nine, tying for the most strikeouts in an AFL start this season. Austin Listi hit a go-ahead RBI single in the seventh, while Darick Hall was 1-for-4 and Jonathan Hennigan earned his first AFL win with one-third of an inning of relief. More »

Video: Tyler Viza on his performance against Salt River

Nationals (Salt River)
Ben Braymer and Taylor Guilbeau each allowed a hit and a walk in scoreless relief appearances, while Jake Noll walked and hit his second double of the fall to raise his average to .261.

Mets (Scottsdale)
Mets No. 2 prospect Peter Alonso reached base three times, walking twice and hitting a game-tying two-run double in the seventh. Catcher Ali Sanchez (No. 25) was 1-for-3 with a walk.

NL Central

Brewers (Peoria)
Keston Hiura, the Brewers' top prospect, brought his fall RBI total to 32 with a two-run double. In the last 10 seasons of AFL play, only two players -- Mike Olt and Nolan Arenado -- have had more RBIs. Weston Wilson replaced Evan White at first base in the second inning and was 1-for-4 with two runs.

Tweet from @MLBPipeline: After this 2-run double, #Brewers top prospect Keston Hiura is up to 32 RBIs in the @MLBazFallLeague. Only two players have had more in the past 10 AFL seasons: Mike Olt (43) and Nolan Arenado (33) in 2011.Gameday: https://t.co/BmnW6NcA6K pic.twitter.com/V3K42WbhIn

Cardinals (Surprise)
Lane Thomas was 2-for-3 with an RBI double and two runs, while Tommy Edman went 0-for-5.

Cubs (Mesa)
Cubs No. 6 prospect Nico Hoerner and Trent Giambrone (No. 29) were a combined 1-for-8 at the plate. Jhonny Pereda, who finished 2-for-4 with an RBI, had the best day of any Cubs prospect. Erick Leal had been lights out in the AFL, but hit a rough patch and was charged with seven runs (six earned) over three innings.

Pirates (Surprise)
Pirates No. 8 prospect Bryan Reynolds drove in a pair of runs and finished 2-for-4. Will Craig (No. 16) stole the show and put together one of his best games of the AFL. Craig, who finished 3-for-4 with four RBIs, hit his fifth homer of the Fall, which has him tied for the second-most in the league. More »

Video: Craig on strong day at the plate, learning first base

Reds (Scottsdale)
All three of Cincinnati's top prospects that played on Tuesday had success at the plate, as No. 2 prospect Taylor Trammell singled and scored a run, No. 8 prospect Shed Long hit an RBI double to drive in his fourth run in as many games, and No. 23 prospect Alfredo Rodriguez was 1-for-3 with a double and a walk. Wyatt Strahan and Alex Powers each pitched scoreless innings.

NL West

D-backs (Salt River)
D-backs No. 3 prospect Jazz Chisholm continued his torrid fall with a two-run triple as part of a 2-for-4 game with a walk. He raised his AFL average to .425 and has hit safely in all nine games he's played. Catcher Daulton Varsho (No. 5) was 1-for-4 and caught a scoreless start by No. 1 prospect Jon Duplantier, who struck out five in four innings, scattering four hits and three walks. Catcher Renae Martinez was 0-for-3 with a walk for Surprise.

Dodgers (Glendale)
Cody Thomas and Jared Walker combined to go 3-for-6 at the plate. Walker went 2-for-3 with an RBI, while Thomas scored a run as part of his 1-for-3 afternoon. On the mound, Andre Scrubb gave up one run on two hits in one inning.

Giants (Scottsdale)
Sam Wolff earned his third save of the fall with two strikeouts and two walks in a scoreless ninth inning. No. 19 prospect Melvin Adon didn't fare as well, as he was charged with two earned runs in two-thirds of an inning.

Padres (Peoria)
A pair of Padres' relievers combined to throw 2 1/3 scoreless innings in Peoria's win over Mesa. Blake Rogers struck out two over 1 1/3 innings, while Dauris Valdez picked up a strikeout in his inning on the mound.

Rockies (Salt River)
All three Rockies prospects in action on Tuesday -- No. 9 prospect Sam Hilliard, No. 11 prospect Tyler Nevin and Josh Fuentes -- singled and walked.

Maeda uses T-shirt to clown ex-teammate

Dodgers right-hander Kenta Maeda took the mound on Tuesday in the Japan All-Star Series and threw two shutout innings to open the game, which was ultimately won by Japan over the MLB stars by a score of 5-3. 

If there's one thing you need to know about Maeda outside of his pitching skills and versatility as a starter or a reliever, it's that he's a major jokester, either by dressing up in costume to surprise fans or pulling pranks on his intrepreter, Will Ireton. His antics have inspired some fans to dress up as him in full Dodgers regalia -- in Los Angeles and now in Japan, too.

Ryu only player to accept qualifying offer

Six others reject one-year, $17.9 million deals
MLB.com @mattkellyMLB

Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu took the qualifying offer -- a one-year contract worth $17.9 million (the mean salary of MLB's 125 highest-paid players). He will become only the sixth player among the 80 to receive offers since 2012 to accept. None of the other six free agents who received offers accepted them.

Teams had to extend prospective free agents a qualifying offer by Nov. 2. Those players had 10 days to either accept the offer or reject it in search of a multiyear deal out in the market, and the deadline for that decision was today at 5 p.m. ET.

Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu took the qualifying offer -- a one-year contract worth $17.9 million (the mean salary of MLB's 125 highest-paid players). He will become only the sixth player among the 80 to receive offers since 2012 to accept. None of the other six free agents who received offers accepted them.

Teams had to extend prospective free agents a qualifying offer by Nov. 2. Those players had 10 days to either accept the offer or reject it in search of a multiyear deal out in the market, and the deadline for that decision was today at 5 p.m. ET.

In the six previous offseasons in which this system has been in place, only five (Brett Anderson, Jeremy Hellickson, Colby Rasmus, Neil Walker and Matt Wieters) of 73 players had accepted the qualifying offer.

The rules regarding Draft pick compensation for signing players who rejected QOs changed after the implementation of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement prior to the 2017 season, and the penalties for signing such players are less strict.

Qualifying offer rules explained

Here are the seven free agents who received the qualifying offer last week, and what Draft compensation their 2018 teams stand to receive if the players sign elsewhere.

Astros -- LHP Dallas Keuchel: Pick after Competitive Balance Round B

D-backs -- LHP Patrick Corbin and OF A.J. Pollock:
A) If either player signs for at least $50 million: Pick between 1st round and Competitive Balance Round A
B) If either player signs for less than $50 million: Pick after Competitive Balance Round B

Dodgers -- C Yasmani Grandal and LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu: Pick after Competitive Balance Round B
Ryu was the only player to accept the qualifying offer, so he'll stick with Los Angeles on a one-year deal.

Nationals -- OF Bryce Harper: Pick after Round 4

Red Sox -- RHP Craig Kimbrel: Pick after Round 4

Compensation for losing players who reject qualifying offers
The current Collective Bargaining Agreement rules state that if the team that loses the free agent is a revenue-sharing recipient, based on its revenues and market size, then the selection -- if and only if the lost player signs for at least $50 million -- will be awarded a pick between the first round and Competitive Balance Round A of the 2019 MLB Draft. If the player signs for less than $50 million, the compensation pick for those teams would come after Competitive Balance Round B, which follows the second round.

The following 16 teams currently qualify for these picks: A's, Braves, Brewers, D-backs, Indians, Mariners, Marlins, Orioles, Padres, Pirates, Rays, Reds, Rockies, Royals, Tigers and Twins.

If the team that loses the player does not receive revenue sharing and did not exceed the luxury-tax salary threshold the previous season, its compensatory pick will come after Competitive Balance Round B. The value of the player's contract doesn't matter in this case. The 12 clubs that fall into this category are the Angels, Astros, Blue Jays, Cardinals, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, Mets, Phillies, Rangers, White Sox and Yankees.

If the team that loses the player went over the luxury-tax threshold, the compensation pick will be placed after the fourth round has been completed (as with the previous scenario, it doesn't matter how much the player signs for). The only two clubs that exceeded the threshold in 2018 are the Nationals and Red Sox.

Penalties for signing players who reject QOs
Any team that signs a player who has rejected a qualifying offer is subject to the loss of one or more Draft picks. However, a team's highest first-round pick is exempt from forfeiture, which is a big change that went into effect with the new CBA. Three tiers of Draft-pick forfeiture -- based on the financial status of the signing team -- are in place to serve as a penalty for signing a player who rejected a qualifying offer:

• A team that exceeded the luxury tax in the preceding season will lose its second- and fifth-highest selections in the following year's Draft, as well as $1 million from its international bonus pool for the upcoming signing period. If such a team signs multiple qualifying-offer free agents, it will forfeit its third- and sixth-highest remaining picks as well.

Teams that are in this group this offseason: Nationals, Red Sox

• A team that receives revenue-sharing money will lose its third-highest selection in the following year's Draft. If it signs two such players, it will also forfeit its fourth-highest remaining pick.

Teams in this group: A's, Braves, Brewers, D-backs, Indians, Mariners, Marlins, Orioles, Padres, Pirates, Rays, Reds, Rockies, Royals, Tigers and Twins.

• A team that neither exceeded the luxury-tax threshold in the preceding season nor receives revenue sharing will lose its second-highest selection in the following year's Draft, as well as $500,000 from its international bonus pool for the upcoming signing period. If it signs two such players, it will also forfeit its third-highest remaining pick and an additional $500,000.

Teams in this group: Angels, Astros, Blue Jays, Cardinals, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, Mets, Phillies, Rangers, White Sox and Yankees.

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.

Turner hosts over 400 vets at Dodger Stadium

Special to MLB.com

LOS ANGELES -- It happens in the middle of the second inning of every home game, when third baseman Justin Turner makes his way to the far end of the dugout to present a baseball to an active or former military member being honored that day at Dodger Stadium.

Sometimes, other players join with a handshake or a piece of memorabilia of their own, but Turner is always there, his spot in the batting order having come and gone one inning earlier, leaving him with precious time during a game to give thanks.

LOS ANGELES -- It happens in the middle of the second inning of every home game, when third baseman Justin Turner makes his way to the far end of the dugout to present a baseball to an active or former military member being honored that day at Dodger Stadium.

Sometimes, other players join with a handshake or a piece of memorabilia of their own, but Turner is always there, his spot in the batting order having come and gone one inning earlier, leaving him with precious time during a game to give thanks.

Honoring just one member of the military a game, though, leaves a mere 81 times when Turner can publicly show his appreciation, so a Veterans Day event at Dodger Stadium on Monday gave him another chance.

Just 15 days after the Dodgers' heartbreak in the form of a World Series defeat against the Red Sox, Turner hosted more than 400 military veterans at Dodger Stadium. He told the group just what their sacrifice means to him and the organization and took an individual photograph with each and every person in attendance.

Afterward, military members and their families took turns taking batting practice and tracking fly balls on the outfield grass.

"Being Veterans Day, Veterans Weekend, having a chance to give a little bit of time to say thank you and spend time with the men and women that sacrifice their life, their family, their time to go defend our country is a no-brainer for me," said Turner, who also visited fire evacuation centers in the Los Angeles area last week. "I would have not been anywhere else.

"On top of the fact that one of the main beneficiaries of the Justin Turner Foundation are homeless veterans at the Dream Center, and we had a chance to bring out some of those individuals today to take part."

Tweet from @Dodgers: The Dodgers, along with @redturn2 and #DodgersAlumni, held their annual Veteran���s Day batting practice and lunch at Dodger Stadium today. pic.twitter.com/ic5HOumflX

Former U.S Army specialist Jason Ortega of Mission Hills took advantage of his chance to walk the field at Dodger Stadium and play catch in left field with his 8-year-old son, Elijah.

"For me, my guy is Justin Turner, because every time I see him, I'm always watching him and he's always saluting the vets and he's always into the vets," Ortega said. "So that's my favorite player right there. He is a good teammate, and it reminds me of all the guys I was with [in the Army]. It was all about teamwork."

Active U.S. Navy hospital corpsman senior chief Jason Fechner, from Murrieta, also appreciates Turner, but his 8-year-old son, Jaysen, showed as much appreciation as anybody Monday, sporting a fake Turner beard and mustache. Jaysen even dressed as Turner for Halloween this year.

"[The Dodgers] remind us that there are people who still support, who encourage us to continue to serve," Fechner said. "Knowing that we come here and are thanked is a blessing is that we are fortunate to have."

For Turner, Monday's gathering showed that support is reciprocated. The Dodgers are coming off their second consecutive World Series defeat, with the disappointment fresh. But the team's fans were there, ready to show appreciation so quickly.

"Looking back on the World Series, the one that probably hurt the most was Game 4," Turner said about the Dodgers relinquishing a late 4-0 lead and losing 9-6. "That one was more devastating after the game than actually losing Game 5, for me."

Turner said he already has started his workout program in advance of the 2019 season with the hopes of another World Series run. And he is waiting to see what next year's roster will look like, knowing that changes are inevitable.

Turner said he is already trying to come to terms with the loss of third-base/infield coach Chris Woodward, who left to become the Rangers' manager. Then there was the departure of hitting coach Turner Ward, who left to become the Reds' hitting coach, and the exit of general manager Farhan Zaidi, who is now the Giants' president of baseball operations.

Turner expressed appreciation to all three and wished them well … to a certain extent.

"I wish [Zaidi] all the luck up there," Turner said. "Not too much luck. Hopefully, he can finish in second [place] for a long time."

Doug Padilla is a contributor to MLB.com.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Justin Turner

Walker turns AFL hitting campaign around

MLB.com @JimCallisMLB

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It has been a trying Arizona Fall League season at times for Jared Walker, but the Dodgers first baseman is finishing on a positive note. He continued his surge Monday, snapping a tie with a two-run double in the sixth inning to give the Glendale Desert Dogs a 4-2 victory over the Mesa Solar Sox.

Gameday

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It has been a trying Arizona Fall League season at times for Jared Walker, but the Dodgers first baseman is finishing on a positive note. He continued his surge Monday, snapping a tie with a two-run double in the sixth inning to give the Glendale Desert Dogs a 4-2 victory over the Mesa Solar Sox.

Gameday

Walker homered in his first AFL game but then fell into a 2-for-23 tailspin that included 15 strikeouts. He has tried to adopt a more patient approach and flourished since, batting .286/.407/.619 in his last six contests.

"It's more about trying to put the ball in play a little more, cutting down with two strikes, trying to take the little base hit over the shortstop's head, something simple like that," Walker said. "It's been better the last two weeks, starting out was a little slow, but I feel like it's picking up."

Walker, 22, has spent only a half-season at the high Class A level, so Fall League pitching is easily the most advanced he has faced. He needed time to adapt and admitted it was frustrating at first.

"The mental side was all out, I couldn't figure it out," Walker said. "It just took a couple words from some people to get me in a good direction mentally. That's all it took. It wasn't my talent. It was just being mentally weak at times, but I picked it back up."

A fifth-round pick from a Georgia high school in 2014, Walker has some of the best raw power in the Dodgers system. But he also spent his first two years as a pro in Rookie ball and totaled just 22 home runs in his first four seasons.

Walker broke out this year, getting more comfortable with his left-handed swing and swatting 25 homers while batting .255/.365/.545 between two Class A stops. He also saw regular action at second and third base, though he has played solely at first base for Glendale. 

Mesa (13-13-1) lost an opportunity to close within a half-game of the Salt River Rafters in the East Division race. With three games remaining, any combination of two Rafters wins or Solar Sox losses will give Salt River the title. Glendale improved to 11-16 after losing its first eight games of the AFL season.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Japan trip not one to miss for Enrique, Taylor

MLB.com @alysonfooter

TOKYO -- The Dodgers players participating in the Japan All-Star Series knew when they committed to this trip that there was a chance they'd have little downtime between the postseason ending and having to hop on a plane to fly to the other side of the world.

That didn't deter them from wanting to be part of this experience, however. The Japan All-Star Series comes around only once every four years, and the rosters -- and the invitations to participate -- rarely duplicate from trip to trip.

View Full Game Coverage

TOKYO -- The Dodgers players participating in the Japan All-Star Series knew when they committed to this trip that there was a chance they'd have little downtime between the postseason ending and having to hop on a plane to fly to the other side of the world.

That didn't deter them from wanting to be part of this experience, however. The Japan All-Star Series comes around only once every four years, and the rosters -- and the invitations to participate -- rarely duplicate from trip to trip.

View Full Game Coverage

This is, essentially, a once-in-a-career opportunity. It was a notion embraced by Enrique Hernandez and Chris Taylor, both of whom had just a couple of days between playing their five-game World Series with the Red Sox and heading out on a team charter to Hawaii for the start of the two-week venture.

"We got done playing two weeks ago," Hernandez said. "But it never crossed my mind, playing a lot of baseball, that I wouldn't want to be a part of this series anymore."

Had the World Series been played to the full seven games, Hernandez and Taylor would have had two days to prepare before leaving for Hawaii, where the trip began. If the Dodgers had won the championship -- a scenario both players obviously would have preferred -- they would have likely skipped the Hawaii leg of the trip in favor of a World Series parade, then traveled on their own to Tokyo for the start of the six-game tournament.

The more convenient scenario -- though also the most disappointing -- allowed for the players to simply remain in Los Angeles and fly out on a flight that departed from there.

But a tougher travel schedule, had it happened that way, would not have deterred either player from going on the trip. Hernandez remembered watching the Japan All-Star Series after his rookie season in 2014, hoping that he'd have the chance to be a part of it at some point in his career. When he was approached earlier this season, he jumped at the chance.

"It's something that I've always wanted to be a part of," Hernandez said. "I've always wanted to come to Japan. To see Japan and play baseball is the best of both worlds. As a big leaguer, you have your goals, and I think this is one things that I can check off the bucket list. It's somewhat of a dream come true."

Taylor also realized he needed to seize the moment while it was available to him.

"You have to take advantage of these opportunities when you get them," Taylor said. "You don't know what's going to happen in a couple years, or when these chances are going to come. I'm just trying to live in the moment and take advantage of every opportunity that these last couple of seasons have given me."

The schedule has been jam-packed -- with sightseeing most mornings, followed by games at night. The sightseeing part is voluntary, of course, but scores of players and their families have taken advantage of the touring options that have been offered.

Hernandez has been particularly busy, working in several sightseeing opportunities while also acting as a willing participant in several fan outreach programs scheduled through MLB and the MLB Players Association.

He's also soaking in the atmosphere during games, noting the joyous manner in which Japan's baseball fans express their passion for their team. Hernandez, a native of Puerto Rico, said it reminds him of home.

"Just by playing in the [World Baseball Classic], by seeing highlights of these games, how great, how crazy the atmosphere is -- it reminds me a little bit of winter ball back home, with all the singing and cheering during the game," he said. "It's something that I've always wanted to be a part of."

Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Enrique Burgos, Chris Taylor

Maeda set for homecoming start in Hiroshima

MLB.com @alysonfooter

TOKYO -- After three tournament games and one exhibition in Tokyo, the Japan All-Star Series will move to Hiroshima for a very brief visit, with just one game scheduled between the MLB All-Stars and Samurai Japan.

But it's sure to create a spectacle, considering who will be the starting pitcher for the Major Leaguers.

View Full Game Coverage

TOKYO -- After three tournament games and one exhibition in Tokyo, the Japan All-Star Series will move to Hiroshima for a very brief visit, with just one game scheduled between the MLB All-Stars and Samurai Japan.

But it's sure to create a spectacle, considering who will be the starting pitcher for the Major Leaguers.

View Full Game Coverage

For eight seasons from 2008-15, Dodgers right-hander Kenta Maeda was a star for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. He's parlayed that success into an impressive three-year run with the Dodgers, and on Tuesday, he'll be reunited with old teammates and fans when he takes the mound at Mazda Zoom-Zoom Stadium.

The opportunity to return to his "home" ballpark was Maeda's main reason for agreeing to be a part of the Major League roster on this trip.

Tweet from @MLB: Kenta Maeda has a fan for life. #JapanAllStarSeries pic.twitter.com/vgG4ygv52z

"I'll be very happy to be able to pitch at the stadium," Maeda said to a packed room of reporters at the Tokyo Dome on Sunday. "I have spent three years in the Major Leagues, and I would like to show all the fans my improvement of pitching."

Maeda, who was not with the MLB All-Stars to start the trip, began his career with the Toyo Carp in 2008 at age 20, and he spent the next eight years compiling a 97-67 record with a 2.39 ERA and a 1.048 WHIP over 1,509 2/3 career innings.

A 16-game winner in his rookie season for the Dodgers in 2016, Maeda has been a key part of three postseason teams. During the recently played World Series, he appeared in three games in relief, including throwing the 15th and 16th innings of the epic 18-inning Game 3 win over the Red Sox.

Video: WS2018 Gm3: Maeda escapes jam, K's side in two frames

Only two weeks have passed since the decisive Game 5 that ended the Dodgers' quest for their first championship since 1988. That brief lull has allowed Maeda to stay somewhat in rhythm, in anticipation of his start in Hiroshima.

"Because our team was in the postseason, it was easy for us to condition ourselves," he said. "After the Series was over, I played catch and did all of the necessary workouts.

"I'll be in the bullpen [Sunday] and try to fine-tune my pitches to prepare for the big game on Tuesday."

The visit to Hiroshima will be the shortest of the trip. The traveling party will move on to Nagoya on Wednesday for a tournament-ending two-game set at the Nagoya Dome.

All of the games of the Japan All-Star Series have been well-attended so far, and capacity crowds are expected for the remainder of the series. Maeda's presence as the starting pitcher in Hiroshima on Tuesday won't be the sole reason for the expected sellout crowd, but it should enhance the experience for the fans who hold tickets for the game.

"It's been a little while since I've pitched in that stadium," Maeda said. "I want to show all my fans in Japan something that they would enjoy. I'll do my best to get as many hitters out as I can and have a good performance."

Maeda's cheering section will extend to the Major League dugout, where two of his teammates will have a front-row view of his homecoming. Enrique Hernandez and Chris Taylor, key members of both of the Dodgers' National League pennant-winning teams, are glad to share this experience with their pitching mate.

"I think one of the things I'm most excited about is seeing Kenta in his hometown, home stadium," Hernandez said. "It's going to be amazing. He's a hero here, and it's going to be fun to see what it's like to be here with him."

Added Taylor: "I'm excited to see the ovation he gets. I know the fans love him over here, and he was really good for that team for a long time. I think it's going to be fun for him to be able to pitch against old teammates and in front of his home crowd."

Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Kenta Maeda

Former Dodgers coach Howell passes away

MLB.com @mattkellyMLB

The Dodgers organization is mourning the loss of former reliever and coach Ken Howell, who passed away on Friday at age 57.

Howell was known for both his passion on the mound and his tireless commitment to improving many other pitchers in the Dodgers' system. A third-round selection in the 1982 MLB Draft, Howell pitched in Los Angeles for five seasons before he was involved in a trade to the Orioles that netted the Dodgers future Hall of Famer Eddie Murray. (He was dealt again four days later to the Phillies.) The right-hander pitched through the '90 season, finishing his career with a 3.95 ERA in 245 appearances (including 54 starts and 31 saves).

The Dodgers organization is mourning the loss of former reliever and coach Ken Howell, who passed away on Friday at age 57.

Howell was known for both his passion on the mound and his tireless commitment to improving many other pitchers in the Dodgers' system. A third-round selection in the 1982 MLB Draft, Howell pitched in Los Angeles for five seasons before he was involved in a trade to the Orioles that netted the Dodgers future Hall of Famer Eddie Murray. (He was dealt again four days later to the Phillies.) The right-hander pitched through the '90 season, finishing his career with a 3.95 ERA in 245 appearances (including 54 starts and 31 saves).

Jerry Hairston Jr., who spent the final two years of his career in Los Angeles, tweeted: "Just heard of the passing of Kenny Howell. Incredible man and mentor who was a beloved player & coach for the #Dodgers. Just didn't get much better than him."

Tweet from @TheRealJHair: Just heard of the passing of Kenny Howell. Incredible man and mentor who was a beloved player & coach for the #Dodgers. Just didn���t get much better than him. #RIP #MLB John 5:28 pic.twitter.com/gwiUTlUYgr

But Howell may have had an even bigger impact for the Dodgers as a coach, beginning in 2002 when he took an assignment as pitching coach for Class A Vero Beach. He ascended to bullpen coach for the Major League club in '08 and then assistant pitching coach in '13, as he worked alongside pitching coach Rick Honeycutt to build the Dodgers' pitching staff into a perennially standout unit.

Multiple members of the Dodgers organization shared their reverence for Howell via Twitter.

Former Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti offered praise for Howell, who was a pivotal figure in the development of Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen.

"When we decided to turn a Minor League catcher named @kenleyjansen74 into a pitcher, Kenny played a major role. He 'heart' Dodgers; it was reciprocal," tweeted Colletti.

Tweet from @realnedcolletti: It has been a very tough week -shootings, fires and today the passing of a dear friend, former @Dodgers reliever + coach, Kenny Howell. When we decided to turn a minor league catcher named @kenleyjansen74 into a pitcher, Kenny player a major role. He 💜Dodgers; it was reciprocal. pic.twitter.com/HRR8WQM5GG

Josh Lindblom, who was drafted by the Dodgers in the second round in the 2008 Draft, reflected fondly of his former coach.

"He is one of the most influential coaches I've had in my career," tweeted Lindblom. "He never stopped believing in his guys. He took a bunch of rookies in 2011 and made us big leaguers. Amazing man, coach, and friend."

Tweet from @JoshLindblom52: Saddened to hear of my former @Dodgers bullpen coach Kenny Howell passing away. He is one of the most influential coaches I���ve had in my career. He never stopped believing in his guys. He took a bunch of rookies in 2011 and made us big leaguers. Amazing man, coach, and friend.

Howell worked for the Dodgers until the beginning of 2015, when complications from diabetes took on a bigger role in his life. He passed away in West Bloomfield, Mich., near his birthplace of Detroit.

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Dodgers release Utley to facilitate retirement

MLB.com @MannyOnMLB

Chase Utley was given his unconditional release by the Dodgers on Friday so the veteran second baseman can officially retire. Utley announced in July that 2018 would be his final season.

"The thing I'm having the most difficult time with is being a part-time dad," Utley said at a press conference to make the announcement. "So that's really the reason I'm shutting it down. I'm ready to be a full-time dad."

Chase Utley was given his unconditional release by the Dodgers on Friday so the veteran second baseman can officially retire. Utley announced in July that 2018 would be his final season.

"The thing I'm having the most difficult time with is being a part-time dad," Utley said at a press conference to make the announcement. "So that's really the reason I'm shutting it down. I'm ready to be a full-time dad."

Utley played 16 seasons in the Majors. He played his first 13-plus seasons with the Phillies and was traded to Los Angeles in 2015, where he played his final three-plus years.

Video: Chase Utley announces retirement at end of season

A six-time National League All-Star, Utley was one of the key players on the 2008 Phillies team that won the franchise's first World Series title in 28 years. Along with Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth, Utley helped fuel Philadelphia's offense during a run of five consecutive NL East championships from 2007-11.

Utley transitioned into a part-time role with Los Angeles, but the club thought so highly of his clubhouse presence, it re-signed him in for each of his final three seasons.

Utley hit .275/.358/.465 with 259 home runs and 1,885 hits in his 16-season career. He also had a penchant for being hit by pitches, getting plunked 204 times.

"For me, this is a no-brainer Hall of Famer," Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said at the time of Utley's announcement. "Doing this now, Chase wanted to be able to focus on helping the 2018 Dodgers win a World Series. There's nothing that would cement his Hall of Fame candidacy more than that."

Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Chase Utley

Here's what Dodgers did in AFL on Saturday

MLB.com

Here's a team-by-team breakdown of how all 30 teams' prospects fared in Arizona Fall League action on Saturday:

• Gameday: Scottsdale 5, Glendale 3 | Peoria 7, Surprise 4 | Mesa 7, Salt River 2

Here's a team-by-team breakdown of how all 30 teams' prospects fared in Arizona Fall League action on Saturday:

• Gameday: Scottsdale 5, Glendale 3 | Peoria 7, Surprise 4 | Mesa 7, Salt River 2

AL East

Blue Jays (Surprise)
Blue Jays No. 22 prospect Santiago Espinal went 0-for-4 with a walk and a run scored, while Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (No. 1 overall) was out of the lineup and had the day off. Shawn Morimando got the start for the Saguaros and took the loss, falling to 0-2 in the Fall League. Morimando allowed two earned runs in four innings, giving up three hits, walking two and striking out three.

Orioles (Glendale)
Jay Flaa and Tyler Erwin each pitched a scoreless inning of relief. Flaa allowed two hits, while Erwin worked a 1-2-3 inning and notched a strikeout. Martin Cervenka started at catcher and went 0-for-3.

Rays (Peoria)
Matt Krook got the start for the Javelinas and allowed one earned run in two innings. The left-hander gave up two hits, walked three and struck out four. Right-hander Brandon Lawson followed Krook and pitched three innings of scoreless relief, notching the win and improving to 2-1 in the AFL. Lawson allowed one hit and struck out two. Phoenix Sanders pitched two innings of scoreless relief, allowing one hit, walking one and striking out three.

Red Sox (Mesa)
Red Sox No. 9 prospect Mike Shawaryn walked one and threw 13 of his 22 pitches for strikes across two scoreless frames to open the game. Josh Ockimey (No. 10), meanwhile, provided the offense as he went 1-for-3 with a two-run double. Esteban Quiroz was 0-for-1 at the plate, but drew a trio of walks. More >>

Video: Ockimey talks about his performance in Fall League

Yankees (Glendale)
Kyle Zurak pitched a perfect inning of relief, posting his second straight scoreless outing to lower his Fall League ERA to 14.09. Steven Sensley went 1-for-3 with a single and two strikeouts.

AL Central

Indians (Glendale)
Indians No. 6 prospect Yu Chang hit his fourth home run of the Fall League season, going 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Chang raised his AFL average to .346. Connor Marabell went 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored. Jared Robinson pitched a perfect inning of relief, striking out one.

Tweet from @wboor: #Indians Yu Chang is hitting .351 in the @MLBazFallLeague after this opposite-field blast. Chang has four homers in the AFL. pic.twitter.com/AEPBKnqnWB

Royals (Surprise)
Royals No. 2 prospect Khalil Lee went 0-for-4 with a walk and a strikeout.

Tigers (Mesa)
Daniel Woodrow boosted his AFL average to .370 with a 3-for-4 performance, while Daniel Pinero went 1-for-4 at the plate.

Video: MSS@SRR: Woodrow hustles to earn infield RBi single

Twins (Salt River)
Twins No. 16 prospect Travis Blankenhorn went 0-for-3, but also made a nice diving catch out in left field.

Video: MSS@SRR: Blankenhorn lays out for fantastic grab

White Sox (Glendale)
It was a quiet day for White Sox prospects as Luis Robert (Chicago's No. 4), Luis Alexander Basabe (No. 9) and Laz Rivera (No. 28) combined to go 0-for-11 with each striking out once. Rivera, who started at shortstop, also committed his second error of the AFL season.

AL West

A's (Mesa)
Skye Bolt, the Athletics' No. 30 prospect, and Luis Barrera each contributed to Mesa's win. Bolt went 1-for-5 with an RBI double and a run scored, while Barrera went 2-for-5 and also drove in a run. Jake Bray walked a pair, but worked his way out of the jam and didn't give up a run in his lone inning on the mound. Angel Duno also threw a scoreless frame for Mesa, yielding just one hit.

Video: MSS@SRR: Bolt laces an RBI double to center field

Angels (Mesa)
Daniel Procopio, Brett Hanewich and Ryan Clark threw the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, yielding a total of two runs (one earned). Hanewich gave up one run on one hit, while Procopio walked two and was charged with an unearned run.

Astros (Scottsdale)
Astros No. 21 prospect Abraham Toro hit his second homer of the Fall League season while going 2-for-4 out of the leadoff spot. Toro drove in two runs and scored a pair. Ronnie Dawson batted cleanup and went 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. More »

Video: Toro discusses his homer, 2-hit game in Fall League

Mariners (Peoria)
Chris Mariscal went 2-for-5 with a pair of singles and a strikeout, while Mariners No. 20 prospect Ian Miller went 0-for-3 with a pair of walks and a run scored. Matt Walker gave up two earned runs in an inning of relief, allowing three hits, including a home run, and striking out one.

Rangers (Surprise)
Yanio Perez and Charles Leblanc combined to go 0-for-8 with three strikeouts, but Perez reached once via walk. Demarcus Evans pitched a hitless inning of relief, walking two and striking out one.

NL East

Braves (Peoria)
Izzy Wilson belted his second home run of the Fall League season, going 1-for-4 with a pair of RBIs and a walk. Braxton Davidson raised his AFL average to .255 with a 2-for-4 performance, as he doubled, walked and drove in two runs. Ray-Patrick Didder went 0-for-5 with a strikeout.

Tweet from @JakeDRill: Second RBI hit of the day for #Braves prospect Braxton Davidson. This one's a single through the right side that extended Peoria's lead to 6-1 in the 7th. @MLBPipeline pic.twitter.com/RktzddYTSZ

Marlins (Salt River)
Marlins No. 12 prospect Brian Miller went 0-for-4 at the plate, while Bryson Brigman (No. 27) went 2-for-4 with an RBI.

Video: MSS@SRR: Brigman reaches for fine grab in 2nd

Phillies (Scottsdale)
Darick Hall led Phillies prospects with a pair of hits, going 2-for-3 with a walk and an RBI. Austin Listi went 1-for-4 with an RBI, while Luke Williams also went 1-for-4 with a run scored. Phillies No. 11 prospect Arquimedes Gamboa went 0-for-4 with a strikeout.

Nationals (Salt River)
Nationals No. 2 prospect Carter Kieboom went 1-for-5 and is hitting .284 in the AFL. Tres Barrera (No. 15) went 0-for-4. Jordan Mills and Taylor Guilbeau combined to throw three scoreless innings. Mills threw two innings and struck out three.

Mets (Scottsdale)
Mets No. 2 prospect Peter Alonso went 0-for-4 with a strikeout, lowering his AFL average to .221. Matt Blackham pitched two innings of relief, allowing one earned run on one hit with three strikeouts.

NL Central

Brewers (Peoria)
Brewers No. 1 prospect Keston Hiura (No. 30 overall) continued his impressive Fall League campaign by going 2-for-4 with a double, a walk and two runs scored. Weston Wilson went 2-for-5 with a pair of singles, an RBI and two runs scored, while Trent Grisham (Milwaukee's No. 19) went 0-for-5 from the bottom of the order. Jon Olczak pitched an inning of relief, allowing one earned run on one hit and one walk.

Tweet from @JakeDRill: Another impressive hit by #Brewers top prospect Keston Hiura. A leadoff double in the 7th. Exit velocity was 114.8 mph accoring to Trackman. @MLBPipeline pic.twitter.com/W0OQqVSJvA

Cardinals (Surprise)
Andy Young went 1-for-4 with a single from the bottom of the Saguaros' lineup. Cardinals No. 30 prospect Connor Jones pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, allowing one hit and striking out two. Will Latcham tossed a scoreless frame in relief, allowing one hit and striking out one.

Cubs (Mesa)
Cubs No. 6 prospect Nico Hoerner and Trent Giambrone (No. 29) jump-started the Mesa offense as Hoerner tripled in the first and scored on Giambrone's RBI groundout. Hoerner finished 1-for-5, but Giambrone collected a trio of hits in the later innings and concluded his evening 3-for-5. Bailey Clark also threw well in relief as he put up a pair of zeros. Clark did give up four hits and issue a walk, but managed to keep runs off the board, reducing his AFL ERA to 2.45. P.J. Higgins went 0-for-4.

Video: MSS@SRR: Hoerner triples, scores on groundout

Pirates (Surprise)
Pirates No. 5 prospect Cole Tucker stayed hot, going 2-for-5 with a double and a run scored. Will Craig (No. 16) went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored. Bryan Reynolds (No. 8) went 0-for-4 with a walk. Blake Weiman and Geoff Hartlieb both had rough relief appearances. Weiman allowed two earned runs in two-thirds of an inning, giving up two hits and walking two. Hartlieb gave up three earned runs in an inning, allowing three hits, walking one and striking out two.

Tweet from @JakeDRill: #Pirates No. 5 prospect Cole Tucker has raked in the Fall League. Here's his leadoff double from earlier today: pic.twitter.com/XQhF6gThVa

Reds (Scottsdale)
Reds No. 2 prospect Taylor Trammell went 1-for-4 with a single. Austin Orewiler got the start for the Scorpions and notched his first Fall League win. Orewiler allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits in five innings, walking one and striking out six.

NL West

D-backs (Salt River)
D-backs No. 3 prospect Jazz Chisholm had a quiet day at the plate, finishing just 1-for-4, but impressed with a few nice defensive plays. Bo Takahashi got the start for the Rafters, but struggled and was unable to get through three innings and gave up three runs on three hits in 2 2/3 frames. Tyler Mark didn't fare any better, giving up three runs in two-thirds of an inning. Kevin Ginkel was the most successful of the D-backs' pitchers as he gave up one hit and spun a scoreless frame. Playing for Surprise, Renae Martinez started at catcher and went 3-for-3 with a home run, two RBIs and a walk. Martinez's two-run homer was his second long ball of the AFL season.

Video: MSS@SRR: Chisolm handles tough hop with ease

Dodgers (Glendale)
Dodgers No. 20 prospect Errol Robinson and Cody Thomas combined to go 0-for-6 with five strikeouts, but Thomas reached base once via a walk. Ben Holmes started for the Desert Dogs and fell to 1-2 in the Fall League, allowing five earned runs in three innings. Holmes gave up six hits, walked three and struck out one. Nolan Long pitched a perfect inning of relief, striking out two.

Giants (Scottsdale)
Matt Winn went 1-for-3 with a triple, a walk, an RBI and a run scored. It was Winn's first three-bagger of the Fall League. Chase Johnson pitched a perfect eighth inning, striking out one. Sam Wolff worked a perfect ninth to record his second save of the AFL season. Wolff hasn't allowed a run in nine innings pitched in the Fall League.

Padres (Peoria)
Padres No. 25 prospect Austin Allen batted cleanup and went 1-for-3 with two RBIs, two walks and a run scored. Allen had a two-run single and raised his Fall League average to .245.

Tweet from @JakeDRill: #Padres No. 25 prospect Austin Allen rips a two-run single to right, extending Peoria's lead to 4-1 in the fifth inning. @MLBPipeline pic.twitter.com/0WKnmGPNHe

Rockies (Salt River)
Rockies No. 11 prospect Tyler Nevin is hitting .420 in the Fall League after his 2-for-3 performance. Josh Fuentes also picked up a hit and is batting .307 after going 1-for-4. Sam Hilliard (No. 9) went 0-for-3, but worked a pair of walks. Justin Lawrence (No. 17) and Mitch Horacek each pitched in relief. Horacek gave up a run in two-thirds of an inning while Lawrence spun a scoreless ninth.

Hernandez, MLB All-Stars host clinic in Japan

MLB.com @alysonfooter

TOKYO -- Major League Baseball's ongoing commitment to its youth outreach programs, coupled with its desire to continue to grow the game globally, has been a running theme throughout the current Japan All-Star Series.

While much of the focus of the tournament is directed toward the on-field play between the Major League All-Stars and Samurai Japan, the youth element is always present, as was the case Saturday at the Tokyo Dome, hours before Game 2 of the six-game tournament.

View Full Game Coverage

TOKYO -- Major League Baseball's ongoing commitment to its youth outreach programs, coupled with its desire to continue to grow the game globally, has been a running theme throughout the current Japan All-Star Series.

While much of the focus of the tournament is directed toward the on-field play between the Major League All-Stars and Samurai Japan, the youth element is always present, as was the case Saturday at the Tokyo Dome, hours before Game 2 of the six-game tournament.

View Full Game Coverage

Twenty-six middle-school kids, ages 13 to 14, were invited onto the field to participate in a baseball clinic with several members of the Major League All-Star team.

A foursome of Whit Merrifield, Rhys Hoskins, Enrique Hernandez and Ronald Acuna Jr. held a station-by-station tutorial in the outfield area of the Dome, an exercise designed to help the kids further develop their basic baseball skills.

Video: MLB stars run clinic, spend time with young players

"Their fundamentals were really impressive," Merrifield said. "It's not even close to where I was at that age. It was quite impressive, and hopefully, they can keep the desire to get better and continue to improve and play on this field someday."

The event was hosted by the U.S. Embassy, in conjunction with a campaign titled "Go For the Gold," which pairs participating countries in the Olympics with schools in various cities in Japan, the host country of the 2020 Summer Olympics.

The United States was paired with Setagaya, an area outside of Tokyo, and it has focused on both sports and educational-related activities, all of which will be held in advance of, and leading up to, the 2020 Games.

Saturday's clinic on the field at the Tokyo Dome was just one activity planned around the "Go For Gold" initiative. Olympic swimmer Katie Ledecky's visit to Setagaya three months ago, when she held a clinic for young Japanese swimmers at a pool in the city, was another.

At the baseball clinic, the young ballplayers were given an up-close view of the four Major Leaguers, who presented their tutorials with help from interpreters who were positioned at each station.

Hoskins, explaining to the kids that he plays both the infield and the outfield for the Phillies, asked them specifically which positions they played, and he offered his expertise in ensuring their approach is the most efficient and accurate as their play in the field.

"These kids are a lot more fundamentally sound than I was [when I was a kid]," Hoskins said. "It's quite obvious that the passion they have for baseball is quite high. That's really cool to see at such a young age."

At the end of the clinic, the players presented the players with gifts, as is customary in Japan when people from different nations meet in a gesture of goodwill.

"I was a kid with big dreams once, and I know how much it means for kids to be here and it's something that they'll never forget," Hernandez said. "I wish we had some more time with them, so we could do a little more with them. You can tell they had a lot of fun. At the end of the day, this is why we play. The kids are our future, and we know how big this is for them."

The clinic was actually the second event of the day for the foursome. The afternoon began with a visit to the MLB Cafe, an officially licensed restaurant located adjacent to the Tokyo Dome.

The venue offers the general experience one would find in a typical upscale sports bar -- libations, food and large-screen televisions to watch games. It's fair to say the restaurant, which opened three years ago, had never actually hosted an actual Major League player. That changed on Saturday, when the four players filed into the main room for a meet-and-greet with the lunchtime crowd.

The event included a question-and-answer session, in addition to the opportunity to meet the players through a raffle.

Each player pulled names out of a box, lottery style, and the winners were gifted with a variety of baseballs and jerseys, autographed by the players.

Video: Hoskins, Hernandez on what it's like to play in Japan

"The fans have been amazing so far," Hernandez said to the crowd. "Japan has always been a place that I have wanted to come visit. I get to experience this amazing culture that you have here. Playing at the Tokyo Dome has been great."

Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.

Dodgers pick up Roberts' option for 2019

Friedman 'optimistic' club will reach extension for manager
MLB.com @kengurnick

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers exercised the 2019 option on manager Dave Roberts on Wednesday but will continue working toward a multi-year agreement, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said at the General Managers Meetings.

Friedman said he remains confident a deal will be reached, but he's "put negotiations to the side" to focus on time-sensitive issues like filling staff vacancies and negotiating with free agents. In the last week, the Dodgers lost general manager Farhan Zaidi to San Francisco, third-base coach Chris Woodward to the Rangers and hitting coach Turner Ward to the Reds.

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers exercised the 2019 option on manager Dave Roberts on Wednesday but will continue working toward a multi-year agreement, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said at the General Managers Meetings.

Friedman said he remains confident a deal will be reached, but he's "put negotiations to the side" to focus on time-sensitive issues like filling staff vacancies and negotiating with free agents. In the last week, the Dodgers lost general manager Farhan Zaidi to San Francisco, third-base coach Chris Woodward to the Rangers and hitting coach Turner Ward to the Reds.

"We exercised the option and we remain optimistic about working something out long term," Friedman told reporters. "The reason that we slowed it down a little bit is that we've had coaching staff decisions to make and interviews and it speaks more to the optimism that we have that something is going to definitely get done and it allows us to focus on what we need to near term.

"Player personnel decision are front and center right now. They have to be. And we have to figure out staffing and prioritize what to attack first."

Friedman said he was informed of Zaidi's decision Tuesday night. He praised his former general manager for creativity, work ethic and the ability to connect with people.

"He is very talented and obviously made a huge impact over the last four years," Friedman said. "If this was something he wanted to pursue, we were going to support him. It's something he could not have been more deserving of."

Friedman declined to outline what he is looking for in a replacement, but said he doesn't expect a dramatic change in the way his front office will work.

"We have very much a divide and conquer approach and it may change as far as emphasis with people doing other things, but I'm just not sure yet," Friedman said.

Roberts, who has guided the club to back-to-back World Series appearances, signed a three-year contract when he was hired before the 2016 season with an option for 2019. His salary from the previous contract had been estimated around $1 million annually, in the lower third among managers.

Last week, Friedman said he didn't see any potential obstacles in working out an extension for Roberts, who became the first Dodgers manager to reach the postseason in his first three seasons at the helm. His 287 regular-season wins rank sixth all-time for managers after their first three full seasons.

"We talked in Spring Training, made significant progress, but reached a point where focusing on the season was something we all wanted to do," Friedman said. "We agreed to table it and pick it up when we were done playing."

Roberts has a .589 winning percentage, the highest for any Dodgers manager since Charlie Dressen's .642 from 1951-53.

The 46-year-old played for the Dodgers and is their first minority manager, joining with former Dodgers teammate Alex Cora as the first opposing minority managers in World Series history last month.

The personable Roberts is the first Dodgers manager since Tom Lasorda in 1977-78 to guide the club to back-to-back World Series appearances. He's also been in charge for the last three of six consecutive National League West Division titles.

In his debut season on 2016, Roberts was voted the National League Manager of the Year. In 2017, when the Dodgers had the best record in MLB, he was a finalist for the award.

Roberts took over for Don Mattingly and embraced management's fondness for analytics to extract incremental matchup advantages, for which Roberts was criticized during the recent World Series loss to the Red Sox.

But he's popular, energetic and perpetually upbeat, a rare combination to go with 10 years of Major League playing experience. Having been undersized as a player and a cancer survivor, he doesn't lack for toughness, either.

He just finished the toughest of his three seasons, as the Dodgers fell 10 games below .500 and nine games out of first place before rallying to force and win a Game 163 for the division title, then beating the Brewers in a seven-game NL Championship Series before losing the World Series in five games to the Red Sox.

This year Roberts lost starting shortstop Corey Seager for nearly the entire season to elbow and hip operations, his entire starting rotation spent time on the disabled list, All-Star third baseman Justin Turner missed the first quarter of the season with a broken wrist and closer Kenley Jansen had a heart condition that will require a second operations.

Jansen update
Friedman said that Jansen would have his second heart operation in the next few weeks. Friedman also said the club believes Jansen's problems in 2018 -- including a shocking increase in home runs allowed -- were related to his mechanics, not his arm, and was probably impacted by a Spring Training hamstring injury that set him back.

Jansen has previously said his casual Spring Training program, in the wake of last year's demanding workload, probably led to the hamstring strain and was a mistake that would not be repeated. He added that he was hopeful the combination of the heart surgery and coming off medication for his condition would improve chances of a return to his previous form.

Friedman said the club is considering internal and external candidates for the third-base and hitting coach vacancies.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Zaidi leaving LA to head Giants' baseball ops

Dodgers' priority now to find general manager replacement
MLB.com @kengurnick

LOS ANGELES -- Thirteen years after the Dodgers hired Ned Colletti from the Giants to be general manager, the Giants have hired Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi to be their president of baseball of operations.

The Dodgers had no comment on the Giants' announcement.

LOS ANGELES -- Thirteen years after the Dodgers hired Ned Colletti from the Giants to be general manager, the Giants have hired Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi to be their president of baseball of operations.

The Dodgers had no comment on the Giants' announcement.

Zaidi, who turns 42 on Sunday, becomes the latest, and highest-ranking, Dodger to be lured away in the last two years, a common occurrence when a club is successful enough to reach the World Series in back-to-back seasons.

General manager now goes to the top of the Dodgers' shopping list, which already shows openings for third-base coach and hitting coach, after Chris Woodward was hired to manage the Texas Rangers and Turner Ward became hitting coach of the Reds.

Zaidi returns to the Bay Area four years to the day after the Dodgers hired him from the Oakland A's, where he was an assistant general manager known for statistical analysis. His background includes a Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Bachelor's Degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dave Roberts, Dodgers agree on extension

The Dodgers have one of the largest front offices in professional sports, and even with the loss of Zaidi, they employ former Arizona and San Diego general manager Josh Byrnes as senior vice president of baseball operations, David Finley as vice president of scouting and former Houston general manager Gerry Hunsicker as senior advisor.

Last winter, Dodgers vice president Alex Anthopoulos and baseball operations director Alex Tamin went to Atlanta as general manager and assistant GM, Minor League director Gabe Kapler joined Philadelphia as manager, bullpen coach Josh Bard became the bench coach of the Yankees, assistant hitting coach Tim Hyers joined the Red Sox as hitting coach, Minor League pitching coach Matt Herges became the Giants' bullpen coach and scout Aaron Sele went to scout for the Marlins.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers