Mets 6, Dodgers 5

The boys mounted a rally in the ninth, putting runners on first and third with one out, but then the lineup got down to a couple of guys with numbers in the 80-plus range (i.e, guys borrowed from minor-league camp), and it was lights out. But Andre Ethier finally broke out of his slump, snapping his hitless streak at 23 at-bats with a double in the fifth off Tom Glavine and a single in the seventh off Ambiorix Burgos. Meanwhile, Grady said after the game he thought Penny looked really good, despite the fact his pitch count (76) got him only through four innings because of all the walks. And, it looks like Furcal might be ready for opening day. It’s all falling into place, it seems. Dodgers fell to 16-12.

Short outing for Penny

Brad Penny lasted only four innings, walking five batters and giving up three runs in the process, but apparently there were no problems with his shoulder. Matt Kemp hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning to tie the game off Chan Ho Park. But so far, Mark Hendrickson has faced six batters, walking three, hitting one, failing to field a bunt by another and recording just one out. Still tied, but the Amazin’s have the bases jacked with one out. Dodgers 5, Mets 5, bottom 8

Dr. Penny and Mr. Hyde

Brad Penny walked four of the first 10 batters he faced and seemed utterly discombobulated over the first two innings, when he gave up a run-scoring single to a guy literally old enough to be his dad (Julio Franco) and an RBI double to a guy old enough to be his much, much older brother (Jose Valentin). But Penny settled in from there and now has retired four Mets batters in a row on a called third strike (David Wright) and three consecutive groundouts. Meanwhile, to continue the old-guy theme, Tom Glavine looks every bit the part of a staff ace. He has retired 11 of the first 12 Dodgers batters, the only exception being Penny’s bloop single to left with two outs in the third. Mets 2, Dodgers 0, top 4

Only in New York … and Port St. Lucie

Saw Jenny McCarthy, wearing platform shoes, playing catch with Ron Darling near the first-base line during batting practice tonight here at Tradition Field. What a circus this place is. She is apparently filming some stuff for a weight-loss program. She also interviewed Dodgers trainer Stan Conte on camera before the game. Not sure if it’s an infomercial or just some streaming video for a web site or what. But whatever it was, it was just another New York side show.

Repko to miss season

Jason Repko will undergo surgery on Wednesday in Los Angeles to reattached two tendons in his left hamstring that he tore from the pelvis (there are three such tendons, he tore two of them). Trainer Stan Conte said the recovery time is a minimum of five months, which means, in Conte’s words, “Essentially, he will miss the season.” … The money coming to the Dodgers from the Brewers in today’s trade is $2.1 million, the exact amount of the difference between Brady Clark’s salary ($3.8M) and Elmer Dessens’ ($1.7M). Clark is entering the final season of a two-year, $7M deal. He’ll be a fourth outfielder and right-handed bat off the bench who can play all three OF spots.

Dessens traded to Milwaukee for Brady Clark, cash

The Dodgers just acquired outfielder Brady Clark from Milwaukee for reliever Elmer Dessens. This radically changes the outlook on the outfield situation, but as far as pitching, it makes it clear that there will be room for Rudy Seanez on an 11-man staff. Brady Clark is a legit outfielder who could even work into an everyday role depending on how well he plays and if Andre Ethier continues to struggle. Not sure on the amount of cash yet, but it will cover some of the difference between Clark’s $3.8 million salary for this season and Elmer’s $1.7 million. More on this as more becomes available.

Thanks to Craig, another great spring in Vero

Now that the last home game is behind us (there is a split squad game here Thursday, but most of us, including manager Grady Little and almost all the major-league players, will be back in Los Angeles by then), I wanted to take just a minute to thank Craig Callan for another spring of great hospitality. Craig is the dutiful Dodgers front-office exec who runs this place so well and is one of the truly great people in the organization. Craig, who has lived in Vero Beach for decades, is planning to move to Arizona in time for the spring of 2009, and he is doing so without complaint. If that shows nothing else, it shows that he is totally, completely loyal to the Dodgers, and for that, he deserves kudos. This guy goes above and beyond the call of his job on a regular basis. A couple of weeks ago, when my dad and brother were visiting, he offered to take them on a personal, guided tour of the complex — something I’m sure they would have taken him up on if they had been able to stay in town longer. Anyway, for a guy who doesn’t get much public credit or notice for what he does, I hope this blog accomplishes at least a little bit of that on his behalf.

Clearing up the Kuo matter

Grady Little looked into Kuo’s claim that he actually did tell the medical staff he was hurting after the Boston game on March 16 and found that Kuo was telling the truth. He had told the medical staff. But he also then went out and threw a side session two days later, after which it was determined he was good to go for the Mets game on Wednesday. That’s the game where Kuo walked four batters and threw four wild pitches, after which the soreness in the back of his shoulder got so bad that he is now prohibited from picking up a ball. At any rate, whatever he told the medical staff on March 16 must have been downplayed to the point that the medical staff didn’t feel the need to tell Grady, because Grady knew nothing about it until after the game on Wednesday.

Tomko is fifth starter … or maybe fourth

Grady just named Brett Tomko the team’s fifth starter, with Mark Hendrickson going to the bullpen as a multi-innings guy. That puts Tomko in line to start on April 10 against Colorado. But Grady left open the possibility Tomko will start in place of Brad Penny on April 7 at San Francisco if Penny’s shoulder problems continue to be a problem, something Grady said he doesn’t anticipate. … Dodgers scored two in the bottom of the ninth on a single by Larry Bigbie that drove in Tony Abreu from second with the tying run. James Loney then scored all the way from first when Cleveland right fielder Casey Blake booted Bigbie’s ball. That gave the Dodgers a walkoff 4-3 win over the Indians. Loney went 3 for 4 with a double, raising his average to .444 and his on-base percentage to .500. And somehow, it is beginning to look like he won’t make the club. More on all of this in tomorrow’s paper. Dodgers improve to 16-11.

A brief lesson for a (hopefully) long career

Wandered over to the minor-league fields this morning (I think they might be in a different zip code). Anyway, I was standing with DeJon Watson and Bill Mueller near the Inland Empire bench during a game against Great Lakes (the Dodgers’ two Single-A affiliates). Josh Bell, a big, power-hitting third-base prospect, drove a ball up the right-center field gap that should have easily scored catcher Lucas May. But Bell made a turn past second, then changed his mind and went back into the bag, but he was tagged for the third out as he tried to get back in. In a photo finish, the two-man umpire crew ruled that the tag came before May crossed the plate. As May strapped on the catcher’s gear for the start of the next inning, Inland Empire manager Dave Collins offered some constructive criticism to May, who might or might not have slowed up coming in for what should have been a gimme run. “I’m going to tell you something that should help you the rest of your career,” Collins said. “Always look for ways to keep playing. The guy who hit the ball (messed) up, and because he (messed) up, you didn’t score.” The lesson was to play hard all the time. What you often see, especially in big-league games, is players jogging home from third on a single or even occasionally from second on a double, their thinking being that the run is automatic. But sometimes it isn’t, especially if a trail runner makes a fundamental mistake. One reason I like going to the minor-league side is to observe these little examples of teaching that go on all the time over there.