Dark Day: Dodgers File for Bankruptcy

The once-proud Los Angeles Dodgers have hit a new low Monday, filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in a Delaware court, citing Commissioner Bud Selig's decision not to approve a media contract and triggering the start of legal proceedings that will decide the fate of Frank McCourt's ownership. Payroll obligations of approximately $30 million are due Thursday .

McCourt will have 120 days to submit a reorganization plan, which undoubtedly will hinge on the court clearing the way for the $3 billion FOX Sports deal to go through.

The case has been assigned to Judge Kevin Gross, who will have the first hearing Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. ET, according to Sports Business Daily.

According to the filing, McCourt received a commitment of $150 million in debtor-in-possession financing that will "enable the Dodger organization to fully meet its obligations going forward," including making payroll and benefits payments coming due. There would be no disruption in the club's day-to-day business, the release stated. According to Sports Business Daily, hedge fund Highbridge Capital Management is providing the interim financing.

McCourt in the release also said the bankruptcy filing is meant to protect the franchise financially and provide a path that will enable the club to consummate a media transaction with FOX Sports, which Selig last week said he would not approve because it was not in the best interests of the Dodgers, their fans and MLB.

Walk-off Win Doesn't Erase Poor Homestand
The Dodgers were hoping to use a season-long, 12-game homestand to get on their first sustained winning streak of the season, get close or reach the .500 mark, and have some momentum for a playoff run after the all-star break.

Instead, they went 4-8 over the last two weeks, getting swept by the Reds, losing two of three games to the Astros, taking two of three from the Tigers, and avoiding a sweep Sunday by beating the Angels 3-2 with two runs in the ninth inning.

The Dodgers are now 19-24 at home this year. They ended a six-game losing streak to the Angels at home, but have still lost 10 of the last 14 games to their Southern California rivals.

The weekend culminated an all-around bad two weeks at Dodger Stadium.

Attendance was awful again -- even against the Angels. Previously, there was only one time, since the start of interleague play in 1997, that a "Freeway Series" game at Dodger Stadium failed to generate at least 50,000 fans.

This weekend, the attendance was announced at 43,460 on Friday, 41,108 on Saturday and 43,104 on Sunday. The key word is announced. Lots of sold tickets, which are what's counted, went unused. By most estimates, the count of those actually watching the game was 15 percent to 25 percent below the announced total.

Sunday's stirring comeback made the homestand a little better. They trailed 2-1 entering the ninth, and it appeared that Clayton Kershaw would suffer a very tough loss, after giving up a home run to Vernon Wells, on a 3-2 count, with two outs in the top of the ninth.

But for just the second time this year, the Dodgers won after trailing through eight innings. It was the ultimate in execution, which the Dodgers haven't done consistently this year, against Angels closer Jordan Walden.

Juan Uribe and Dioner Navarro walked, Jamey Carroll bunted them over, Aaron Miles' sacrifice fly tied it, and Tony Gwynn, Jr. single won it. The Dodgers are 35-44, nine games under .500, and nine games out of first place. It's looking more and more like the team will be sellers next month at the trading deadline. The only question is which players on which they will entertain offers.

Dodgers Toying Moving Furcal to Second
Rafael Furcal is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment on Sunday. He'll probably be the designated hitter in the first game, then move to his normal position of shortstop.

Then, don't be surprised if he plays second base.

General manager Ned Colletti and manager Don Mattingly kicked around the idea Friday afternoon of moving Furcal to second base when he comes off the disabled list. It's far from definite, but that it's even being considered is a strong vote of confidence for rookie Dee Gordon.

Furcal has played second base during winter ball in his native Dominican Republic in recent offseasons. The last time he played second base in the majors was two innings in 2004. He played four games (three starts) at the position in 2002, and 31 games as a rookie in 2000.

Mattingly mentioned the idea to reporters before Friday's 8-3 loss to the Angels, and before he'd even talked to Furcal about it. Reporters found Furcal before Mattingly did, so he heard the idea from them first and was initially taken aback by the topic.

"For me, it could be a little bit tough," Furcal said. "I haven't played second the last three years in the Dominican (Winter League). But if I have to do it to help the team win, I will do it."

Mattingly later talked to Furcal as he went through a full round of baseball activities. He fielded grounders at third base and shortstop, took batting practice, and ran the bases.

If Furcal is asked to move to second base, he wants to get accustomed to the position during his rehab assignment. But right now, he just wants to get healthy and play enough games, so he's not rusty coming off the DL. Furcal has struggled offensively and defensively in his numerous trips off the disabled list in recent years. Furcal was 1-for-22 with two errors in his first five games when coming off the DL earlier in mid-May.

Gordon went 0-for-5 on Friday and is now in a 1-for-18 slump, dropping his average to .246 overall.

"He's been fine," Mattingly said. "We'll get a chance to see him over the next week or 10 days. Right now, there's no reason. He hasn't done anything wrong. He's done what we thought he could do, and we think he's even gonna get better than that."

Furcal is 33 years old. He'll be a free agent after this season, since it's practically impossible that he'll get the 600 plate appearances necessary for a $12 million vesting option to kick in. Furcal was once a rookie, replacing Walt Weiss as the Braves shortstop in 2000. He knows that Gordon is the future.

"(Gordon) is like me my first two or three years," Furcal said. "I like the way he plays. He tries to put the ball on the ground and use his speed, he bunts, he plays good defense. He is doing good things for us."

NOTES, QUOTES
--LHP Clayton Kershaw extended his scoreless inning streak to 18 by taking a shutout into the seventh inning Sunday. A bloop double and soft single scored the Angels' first run. Kershaw finished with two runs on seven baserunners (six hits and a hit batsman), lowering his ERA to 2.93 for the year and improving his All-Star game chances.

--Manager Don Mattingly decided to give SS Dee Gordon a day off Sunday, as the rookie was in a 1-for-22 slump and Angels RHP Jered Weaver was the starting pitcher. It paid off handsomely in the ninth because Gordon was used as a pinch-runner. Gordon stole second base, went to third on a bunt, and scored the game-tying run on a flyball to shallow center. Gordon's speed allowed him to score on a play most Dodgers wouldn't have attempted.

--3B Casey Blake started Sunday for the first time since last Sunday, going 0-for-4, and for the third time in the last 14 days. Blake's been held back by a pinched nerve in his neck, although he's pinch-hit almost every day. Blake's tired of sitting and waiting for the neck to get better, so he's just going to play and see if it gets worse and the disabled list is necessary.

--OF Marcus Thames will probably avoid the disabled list, with an assist by the schedule. The Dodgers have six interleague games this week in the American League, so Thames wouldn't be needed to play the field. He can pinch-hit or be the designated hitter. Thames left Friday's game with a left calf strain.

--RHP Jonathan Broxton felt tightness in his elbow when playing catch on Saturday, so his rehab is on hold for a few days. Broxton was supposed to make his third rehab assignment on Sunday, and pitch again Monday. The previous plan of him returning for next weekend's series with the Angels is unlikely. --SS Rafael Furcal began his rehab assignment Sunday at high Class A Rancho Cucamonga, going 2-for-3 with a walk and three runs scored. He's expected to play at least four games, if not an entire week, to shake the rust off before he's activated from the DL.

--C Dioner Navarro picked off two runners and threw out two runners trying to steal in Friday's loss to the Angels. According to Elias, the last catcher with two or more pickoffs and caught stealings in a game was Ron Hassey on June 8, 1986 against the Orioles. Navarro has four pickoffs this year. He's thrown out 6-of-14 would-be base base stealers for the season.

--OF Alfredo Silverio, from Double-A Chattanooga, was named to the All-Star Futures Games, where he will represent the World Team. The Dominican Republic native was also named the Southern League hitter of the week, after going 13-for-26 (.500) with nine extra-base hits for the week.

Overall, he came into Friday batting .323 (third best in the league), and was also fourth in RBI (40) and third in slugging percentage (.576).

--CF Matt Kemp took over the league lead in home runs with a two-run shot to center on the first pitch he saw from Dan Haren in the first inning Saturday. Kemp has 21 homers and 60 RBI. Kemp's on pace to become the fifth Dodgers to finish a season with a batting average over .300, an on-base over .400, and a slugging over .600. The most recent was Gary Sheffield in 2000.

BY THE NUMBERS: 9.38 -- Strikeouts per nine innings for LHP Clayton Kershaw through 100 games started in the majors. That ranks eighth best in baseball history. The best is Randy Johnson's 10.61 and ninth is the 9.28 by Sandy Koufax. Kershaw struck out 11 in nine innings Sunday, giving him a majors-leading 129 in 116 2/3 innings this year.

QUOTE TO NOTE I: "That's my game, I look for an opening. I know they're an aggressive team, they've been that way a long time with Mike (Scioscia, Angels manager), and they keep doing it. Mike likes that type of game. You've got to be on your toes." -- CDioner Navarro, after picking off two runners and throwing out two more would-be base stealers on June 24.

BY THE NUMBERS II: .386
-- Lifetime average of RF Andre Ethier against Angels pitcher Dan Haren. Ethier went 3-for-3 with a double in Friday's game. He's 17-for-44 with five doubles and two home runs against Haren.

QUOTE TO NOTE:
"Rubby's at a point like (Clayton) Kershaw was three years ago. When he comes out every time, we'll see how he adjusts. Will he bounce back from a tough outing? Will he continue to get better? Some of it we'd like to force. But we can't force time. We can't force outings. It's going to be every five days. He's a lot like those other (young pitchers). There's going to be a learning curve. And the faster he learns, the better he'll be." -- Manager Don Mattingly, on rookie pitcher Rubby De La Rosa.

*M*A*A*S*H* 4077 MEDICAL WATCH:
--3B Casey Blake (pinched nerve in neck) started June 26 for the first time since June 19, and for the third time in the last 14 days, though he had pinch-hit almost every day. Blake was expected to start testing the injury by playing to see if it gets worse and a trip to the DL is merited.

--OF Marcus Thames (strained left calf) left the June 24 game, and he didn't play June 25-26. He will probably avoid the disabled list, with an assist by the schedule. The Dodgers have six interleague games this week in the American League, so Thames could be used as a designated hitter or pinch hitter and wouldn't have to play the field.

--RHP Jonathan Broxton (bone bruise on right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 4. He threw a bullpen session June 7. He made rehab appearances on June 21 and 23 for Class AAA Albuquerque, and his elbow felt fine after two rehab assignments, but his body was a little fatigued after competing for the first time since May 4. He was expected to pitch June 26 and June 27 for Class A Rancho Cucamonga, but he felt tightness in his elbow when playing catch on June 25, so his rehab is on hold for a few days. The previous timetable, which had him returning for the July 1-3 series against the Angels, is unlikely to be met.

--C Rod Barajas (sprained right ankle) went on the 15-day disabled list June 19.

--SS Rafael Furcal (strained left oblique muscle) went on the 15-day disabled list June 4. He was getting ready to go on rehab assignment, but as of June 22, the switch-hitter still could not swing a bat from both sides without pain. He began rehab assignment with Class A Rancho Cucamonga on June 26. He's expected to play at least four rehab games, if not an entire week, to shake the rust off before he's activated.

--RHP Jon Garland (right shoulder inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 2. He played catch June 21 but had to shut it down quickly.

--RHP Vicente Padilla (right radial nerve irritation) went on the 15-day disabled list May 14. He began a rehab assignment with Class A Rancho Cucamonga on May 29, but was shut down in early June due to a neck ailment. He underwent neck surgery June 16, and he will likely miss the rest of the season.

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