4/12/2013 1:02 A.M. ET
Father knows best: Dad helps Cruz get on track
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
SAN DIEGO -- All winter and spring Luis Cruz tried to ignore the skeptics who wondered if he was the career Minor Leaguer he had been or the late bloomer who won the Dodgers' starting third-base job over the second half of 2012.
Then Cruz started the season 0-for-17 and, he admits, one thing might have had something to do with the other.
"I wanted to prove too much that what I did last year was real and I overtried to do things," said Cruz, who broke out with a pair of hits Wednesday night. "My dad got me to relax and have fun. I'm not the first or last to go 0-for-17. Now I'm 2-for-5. I'm not counting the 17."
Cruz credits his father, a hitting coach in the Mexican League, for spotting his flaws physical and mental, and for providing just enough needling to keep his son loose.
"He told me that he couldn't make [the Major Leagues], so I see myself in you," Cruz said. "The other day he asked me if he should go to bat for me. Last night after the game he said he thought I'd go 0-for-400. Thank you, Dad. He always gives me a hard time, in a good way."
Cruz's father told his son he was "jumpy" at the plate and the son tried to explain why.
"You go to the plate and it's like you want to get two hits in one at-bat," he said. "You want it so bad. I wasn't nervous, just too excited. When I'm pulling balls, that's not me. I just wanted to get one hit to right field. I know that's me. I was almost as excited as my first hit."
Dodgers to celebrate Robinson's legacy all weekend
SAN DIEGO -- Major League Baseball celebrates Jackie Robinson Day on Monday, but the Dodgers and the City of Los Angeles will be celebrating all weekend.
It starts on Friday, officially declared Jackie Robinson Day by the L.A. City Council. A private screening of the Warner Bros. feature film "42" is planned for more than 200 Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities Los Angeles (RBI-LA) youngsters Saturday.
On Sunday, the Dodgers will host an RBI clinic for 250 youth from greater Los Angeles RBI programs. Prior to Monday's celebration at Dodger Stadium, a visit to Washington Middle School in Pasadena is planned with Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp, Dodgers alumnus Tommy Davis and Sharon Robinson, Jackie's daughter, author, MLB educational programming consultant and vice chair of the Jackie Robinson Foundation.
The Dodgers will host Robinson's widow, Rachel Robinson, and her family at Monday's game.
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In 1997, under the direction of Commissioner Bud Selig, Robinson's No. 42 was retired across all of Major League Baseball in an unprecedented tribute.
"Jackie's impact on baseball, society and the lives of our children and our children's children is unmatched. I'm humbled to celebrate a great Dodger and a better man," said Dodgers partner Magic Johnson.
The Dodgers will also pay tribute to Dodgers Hall of Fame catcher and three-time NL MVP Award winner Roy Campanella and Dodgers special advisor to the chairman, 1956 National League MVP and Cy Young Award winner Don Newcombe pregame.
The 17-member choir of Johnson's church home, West Angeles Church of God in Christ, will sing the national anthem. Kelley Jakle -- the great-granddaughter of Branch Rickey, the Brooklyn Dodgers' general manager who signed Jackie Robinson -- will sing "God Bless America." The ceremonial first pitch will be thrown by Harrison Ford, who stars in Warner Bros. Pictures "42" as Rickey. Rachel Robinson will officially start the game with "It's Time for Dodger Baseball!"
The Dodgers also will salute the Tuskegee Airmen during the game Monday night and Warner Bros. Pictures will provide a commemorative statuette of Robinson, Campanella and Newcombe to the first 40,000 attending the game against the Padres.
Dodgers have decision to make as Lilly nears return
SAN DIEGO -- Ted Lilly, the Dodgers pitcher with no apparent role, came out of his injury rehab start Wednesday night with no issues, which was to be expected because he's not hurt.
Lilly is on the disabled list to rebuild enough arm strength to pitch deep into games. He made 90 pitches for Triple-A Albuquerque on Wednesday night, so the Dodgers soon must make a decision on what to do with him.
"It sounds like he felt good," manager Don Mattingly said. "The ball was coming out better [than his start at Class A Rancho Cucamonga five days earlier]. He's gotten sharper. Rick [Honeycutt, pitching coach] looked at the tape and there's a lot more quality pitches. Obviously, he's going in the right direction.
"The plan right now is for him to throw a bullpen tomorrow and see where we go after that. We haven't made any decision."
Options are limited. It's unclear if Lilly will agree to make another rehab start. There's no room in the current starting rotation for him, barring an injury.
The Dodgers traded Aaron Harang (and paid $4.25 million of the $7 million he'll earn this year) because there was no room in the starting rotation for him, either. They put Chris Capuano in the bullpen for the same reason.
"We'll cross that bridge when we get there," Mattingly said when asked if Lilly could join Capuano in the bullpen, which would require moving a current reliever off the staff.
Because of Lilly's delicate shoulder, the club believes he's not as well suited to relieving as Capuano. Because Lilly earns $12 million this year and is coming off shoulder surgery, he's likely to be tougher to deal than Harang.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.