ALL REVVED UP

The Dodgers got their ‘Fer­rari’ by trad­ing for Darvish. Roberts and the play­ers couldn’t be hap­pier.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Andy McCul­lough

AT­LANTA — Around 1:05 p.m. on Mon­day, in­side a suite of of­fices hug­ging the left-field pole at Dodger Sta­dium, gen­eral man­ager Farhan Zaidi reached for his iPhone. He had just fin­ished an hour of fever­ish ne­go­ti­at­ing to com­plete a mon­u­men­tal trade min­utes be­fore the early-af­ter­noon dead­line. Now he thumbed a three-word text to his team’s man­ager.

The mes­sage soared east­ward, rush­ing to meet the team’s flight as it trav­eled here. In­side a char­tered United 737-800, the wire­less net­work picked up the mes­sage and de­liv­ered it to Dodgers man­ager Dave Roberts. He looked down and read. “We got Darvish.” In a sea­son de­fined by late-game drama, the Dodgers front of­fice ex­e­cuted a last-sec­ond flour­ish of its own. By ac­quir­ing Yu Darvish from Texas in ex­change for three prospects, the team added an ace to a start­ing ro­ta­tion that al­ready had the low­est earned-run av­er­age in base­ball.

“You’ve got to be … kid­ding me,” the man­ager re­sponded, a mes­sage that con­veyed the ex­cite­ment of both his or­ga­ni­za­tion and its long-suf­fer­ing fan base.

Darvish will serve as a right-handed com­ple­ment to left-handed stal­wart Clay­ton Ker­shaw, who is re­cov­er­ing from a lower back strain. Darvish will join the team on Wed­nes­day and de­but as a Dodger on Fri­day against the New York Mets at Citi Field. Await­ing him is a group of play­ers who de­lighted in learn­ing about his ar­rival as they flew on Mon­day.

“It doesn’t mat­ter what we have on paper — we still have to go out and play,” third base­man Justin Turner said. “But the fact that the front of­fice stepped up and did what they did at the dead­line means that they’re as se­ri­ous as we are.”

Darvish was not the only new Dodger who was ac­quired on the day of the trade dead­line. The team also added left-handed re­liev­ers Tony Wat­son and Tony Cin­grani. But Darvish is a four-time All-Star, one of the sport’s most feared pitch­ers, and a player who serves as an ex­trav­a­gant ad­di­tion to base­ball’s best team.

The Dodgers en­tered the fi­nal hours be­fore the dead­line jug­gling a va­ri­ety of sce­nar­ios. They main­tained di­a­logue with Bal­ti­more about closer Zach Brit­ton, while still keep­ing alive the dis­cus­sions about Wat­son and Cin­grani. In the last hour, the team learned the Orioles would not make Brit­ton avail­able. As the talks broke down, con­ver­sa­tions with Texas heated up.

The sleep-de­prived ex­ec­u­tives were gath­ered around a con­fer­ence ta­ble in the base­ball op­er­a­tions de­part­ment’s suites on the fifth floor of Dodger Sta­dium. Zaidi traded calls with Rangers gen­eral man­ager Jon Daniels. Un­der nor­mal cir­cum­stances, Zaidi ex­plained, he would step out of the room to talk. In this case, he didn’t have enough time.

The teams laid the ground­work for a deal over pro­ceed­ing weeks, but the pace now ac­cel­er­ated. Darvish does not come with a spot­less med­i­cal his­tory — he un­der­went el­bow lig­a­ment re­place­ment surgery in 2015 — but the Dodgers’ med­i­cal staff gave its con­sent. The sides set­tled on a re­turn pack­age of triple-A in­fielder Wil­lie Cal­houn, Class-A pitcher A.J. Alexy and Class-A in­fielder Bren­don Davis.

At 12:50 p.m., Darvish posted a pic­ture of him­self in­side the Rangers’ club­house at Globe Life Park in Ar­ling­ton, Texas. He stood be­side his locker with a blue Rangers cap on his head. “10 min!!” he wrote. The Rangers had kept Darvish abreast of the dis­cus­sions head­ing into Mon­day, but by that point Darvish ex­pected he would re­main in Texas. He was plan­ning to go out­side and stretch.

He never made it out­side. He would even­tu­ally re­ceive a call from Dodgers Pres­i­dent of Base­ball Op­er­a­tions An­drew Fried­man. The son of an Ira­nian fa­ther and a Ja­panese mother, Darvish possesses a firm grasp of English. He has spent time in Los An­ge­les dur­ing win­ters in the past.

“He men­tioned how much he likes the city, and has taken no­tice of how we’ve played this year, and he was ex­cited to join us for the last cou­ple months,” Fried­man said.

In­side the plane, about half­way through the flight, a siz­able con­tin­gent of the trav­el­ing party slept. Some watched movies. Pitcher Alex Wood sat near Turner, and both re­freshed Twit­ter on their phones ev­ery few min­utes, thirsty for news. “We thought some­thing would go down,” Wood said. “We didn’t re­ally know what.”

The play­ers were pleased to hear about Wat­son and Cin­grani. While Cin­grani pro­files as a recla­ma­tion project, Wat­son has pitched in the play­offs for Pitts­burgh. How­ever, nei­ther of those deals clas­si­fied as a block­buster. When 1 p.m. ap­proached, it ap­peared no fur­ther move had been made.

Soon af­ter the dead­line passed, Turner re­ceived a text mes­sage from strength and con­di­tion­ing coach Bran­don McDaniel. “Wait for it,” the mes­sage read. Just as McDaniel hit send, a re­port flashed on the tele­vi­sion screen link­ing Darvish to the Dodgers.

Near the back of the plane, En­rique Her­nan­dez kept watch on his phone. When the news about Wat­son broke, he showed it to vet­eran sec­ond base­man Chase Utley, who was in front of him. Utley nod­ded. He nod­ded again when he heard about Cin­grani. But when the news about Darvish ap­peared, Utley con­torted his face in sur­prise — “which is a lot, for Chase,” Her­nan­dez said.

As the min­utes ticked away, closer Ken­ley Jansen snoozed in his seat. He was awak­ened by rookie reliever Ed­ward Pare­des af­ter the dead­line. Jansen heard about Darvish from AM-570 broad­caster David Vassegh. Jansen was ec­static, but won­dered why the team hadn’t added any left-handed re­liev­ers. Once he learned about Wat­son and Cin­grani, Jansen beamed as he got up to walk down the aisle.

Ear­lier in July, Jansen had com­pared Darvish to a Fer­rari. Ev­ery­one, he ven­tured, wants to drive one. Now the lux­ury ve­hi­cle be­longed to the Dodgers.

“We got our Fer­rari,” Jansen said. “Now we just have to put the right oil in, get it ser­viced, and there we go.”

On Tues­day af­ter­noon, Fried­man left his of­fice to watch Ker­shaw’s lat­est throw­ing ses­sion at Dodger Sta­dium. The team re­mains con­fi­dent that Ker­shaw, who is on the dis­abled list and not trav­el­ing with the team, will head­line the ro­ta­tion in Oc­to­ber. Darvish can re­duce the strain on Ker­shaw, who may not need to pitch on short rest. Af­ter he fin­ished throw­ing, Ker­shaw told Fried­man how happy he was with the ad­di­tions.

In that vein, he echoed his team­mates ex­ult­ing on the other side of the coun­try. They al­ready own the best record in base­ball. Now they have Darvish.

“It’s kind of like, how do we get bet­ter?” Wood said. “But some­how, we did.”

John Bazemore As­so­ci­ated Press

CHASE UTLEY of the Dodgers is tagged out at home by Tyler Flow­ers of the Braves to end the eighth in­ning. Utley was at­tempt­ing to score from sec­ond on a Cody Bellinger sin­gle. Bellinger ear­lier home­red in the Dodgers’ ninth win in a row and 40th in 46 games.

Lori She­p­ler Los An­ge­les Times

MANNY RAMIREZ helped make the Dodgers a World Se­ries con­tender af­ter be­ing ac­quired from the Boston Red Sox in 2008.

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