Grady Little just said that if Rafael Furcal can’t go in Monday’s opener at Milwaukee, Juan Pierre will lead off, with Russell Martin batting second. Wilson Betemit then will hit sixth behind Luis Gonzalez, with Andre Ethier batting seventh. Ramon Martinez, and not Wilson Valdez, will play shortstop and bat eighth because Grady says he wants to go with the veteran player in an opening-day game, although that could change for Game 2 on Tuesday night. Plus, there still is no guarantee Valdez will even be on the team. Grady also said he still hasn’t decided how to slot Betemit and Ethier into the seven and eight holes when everyone is healthy. He said earlier in camp that he is leaning toward Ethier seventh and Betemit eighth, but it was the other way around on Friday night. … Meanwhile, no one seems too upset over Nick Gorneault plowing into Mike Lieberthal in the eighth inning, even though it was a meaningless exhibition game. “That’s the way you play baseball on the field, no matter when it is,” Little said. … Dodgers fell to 16-15-1 for the spring, and they still haven’t won a Freeway Series game since 2003.
Larry Bigbie entered the game defensively in the sixth, then led off the bottom of the inning with a single, raising his spring average for the moment to .364. Chad Billingsley faced the minimum for three innings, allowing one hit and one walk. Tsao on now, whiffed Mike Napoli to start the seventh. Still no offense to speak of against Hector Carrasco, Scott Shields and Chris Bootcheck. Angels 3, Dodgers 1, top 7
Randy Wolf gave up three runs on five hits and two walks over the first two innings, then retired the final four batters he faced in an abbreviated, final tuneup before he makes his official Dodgers debut on Tuesday night at Milwaukee. Chad Billingsley has faced the minimum over two innings, with one runner caught stealing and another erased in a double play. The offense has done little against Hector Carrasco and Scott Shields, managing just three hits. Angels 3, Dodgers 1, bottom 5
Almost forgot about the other game, back in Vero, where a skeleton crew of Dodgers took it on the chin. David Newhan, the Pepperdine product, went 4 for 4 with two homers for the Amazin’s. For the Bums, Chin-lung Hu went 3 for 5 and is hitting .381 (8 for 21) in the handful of big-league games he has appeared in. Marlon Anderson went 2 for 3 to raise his average all the way to .182. Matt Kemp homered. And Joe Mays pitched four innings, allowing two runs on six hits with five strikeouts. Dodgers are 16-14-1 pending the outcome of the Freeway Series opener, where it’s scoreless after one.
The home clubhouse at Dodger Stadium, whch is cramped anyway, is even moreso this weekend because of all the players the Dodgers brought to the Freeway Series — some of whom were never in big-league camp in the first place. The Dodgers took what might have been the longest session of pregame batting practice in the history of baseball just to give everyone a chance in the cage. But if you want to glimpse the future, this weekend would be a good time. Ivan DeJesus Jr. is here, although you probably will be able to see him this summer at Inland Empire in San Bernardino. Tony Abreu is here, as well. Those two could form the Dodgers’ middle infield for years to come, although Chin-lung Hu has been Abreu’s DP partner all the way through the minors. With several of their long-awaited prospects now blossoming in the big leagues, the Dodgers are done looking to the future. But even if they aren’t looking, the future still looks pretty bright.
Grady Little just said Rafael Furcal is “questionable” for Monday’s season opener at Milwaukee — which means, of course, that he probably won’t play. Grady said Furcal should be ready shortly after opening day, but that still leaves the possibility — or perhaps the probability — that he will open the season on the DL because it can be backdated to March 23, which means he still could return on April 7 at San Francisco. And that also would solve, at least temporarily, the question of what to do about Wilson Valdez, who is having a spectacular spring but for whom the Dodgers don’t appear to have a roster spot. Grady said a final decision on Furcal will come Saturday.
The grass is perfectly manicured (kudos to Eric Hansen and his crew), with the familiar diamond pattern mowed into the outfield. The sky is perfectly blue, without a cloud in sight, and the San Gabriels are in clear view. Probably going to cool off considerably by game time, but it’s great to be here again. The team is already on the field for stretching at 3:33 p.m., so I guess they’re treating it like just another spring training game, which is what it is. But it’s still going to be a great night to be here, so come on out if you don’t have plans. If nothing else, it would be a good chance to test out the new parking plan.
And all this time I thought you were ignoring me. Turns out that under the new blog format, which has been in place for about a week, I actually have to APPROVE of the comments before they are posted, which explains why they haven’t been posting since we started the new format. My apologies to all for my lack of responses. Hopefully, I have fixed the problem, and your comments will be posted more quickly in the future.
Hello, Southern California, it’s great to finally be home. Anyway, as anyone who has been reading this blog all spring knows, I’m a HUGE proponent of the Dodgers moving spring training to Arizona. But there is a part of me that will always miss the charm, the ambience and the history of Dodgertown, and I wanted to give you a link to a brief web video — marvelously put together by Eric Neel and Gary Bogdon, with a helping hand from a really good buddy of mine, Dodgers team historian Mark Langill — on the history of Dodgertown and what it means that the Dodgers are leaving. This is a must-watch, and it’s only a few minutes long, so take the time if you can. You won’t regret it. You can see it at the link below.
The Dodgers and Tigers played to a 3-3 tie today and won’t see each other during the regular season. But they might see each other again. When the Daily News’ baseball preview comes out tomorrow, you will see that your humble correspondent has predicted that the two will square off in the World Series. I picked the Tigers to win, but that’s just a guess, because the postseason has become such a crap shoot with so many teams now in it. But this Detroit team reminds me a lot of the Oakland club that lost to the Dodgers in the ’88 Series. The A’s were supposed to win that series handily, but thanks to Kirk Gibson and Orel Hershiser, they got steamrolled — eerily similar to what happened to the Tigers last fall against a clearly inferior St. Louis club, which won that series in five games. The A’s went back in ’89 and, sandwiched around the Bay Area earthquake, swept the Giants in the World Series. For now, I’m predicting a similar rebound for the Motor City Kitties.