No Japanese opener

I learned earlier today that the Dodgers will NOT open the 2008 season in Japan. Not terribly surprising, given that the only lobbying they did for it was a casual comment that Frank McCourt happened to make to Bud Selig when the commish was visiting Dodger Stadium a few weeks ago. … Jack Cassel will be recalled from Triple-A Portland tomorrow and start for the Pods against David Wells. … Best wishes to Rai Henniger, a senior VP with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox of the Pacific Coast League, whom I remember from when I covered that team back in the mid-90s. Rai suffered multiple head injuries and lost an eye in an explosion when he was helping set up for an on-field fireworks display on May 12. He is now out of the hospital, and while my buddy Bob Stephens of the Colorado Springs Gazette reported earlier this week that Rai still faces a long road back that will include numerous surgeries, it’s good to know he’s going to recover. This was a very bad thing that happened to a very good guy, but it has turned into an inspirational story. I also read that Rai is hoping to return to work for the club, which is a great sign. … That’s it for today. Heading to San Diego in the morning. I’ll check in when I get there.

Dodgers 10, Nats 9

Shea Hillenbrand came through with the sac fly with the bases loaded in the 12th. A good throw by Austin Kearns might have gotten Jeff Kent at the plate, but it was to the opposite side, and Jesus Flores couldn’t get the tag down. Kent went 4 for 5, Loney wnet 2 for 5 with four RBI, and Hillenbrand went 2 for 4 with three RBI. But the hero was Scott Proctor, who pitched three shutout innings, giving up a hit and a walk, and the last pitch he threw induced a HUGE GIDP from Robert Fick to end the top of the 12th after runners were on the corners with one out, and Proctor got the win after the Dodgers rallied. … Dodgers improve to 70-63. D-backs and Pods play at Petco tonight. If the Pods win, they’ll be tied for first with the D-backs, and the Dodgers will be just 3 1/2 back, with a three-game series of their own at Petco on tap beginning Friday. This thing is a long, long way from being over.

Loaiza starts Tuesday at Cubs

He’ll take Stults’ spot in the rotation. The roster move has to be made by Friday for Loaiza to be eligible for the playoffs (Hey, it could still happen). My guess is they’ll option Stults because they could then recall him 10 days later, by which time the roster will have expanded to a 40-man max. By the way, Grady said they will recall some players on Saturday (Sept. 1), some others on Tuesday after the minor-league regular season ends on Monday and then, if Jacksonville makes the Southern League playoffs, possibly more players from the Suns when that playoff run ends.

Here’s the lineup for today’s game

SS Furcal
CF Pierre
RF Kemp
2B Kent
LF Gonzo
C Martin
1B Loney
3B Hillenbrand
RH Penny