Angels 4, Dodgers 2

The Dodgers might be blazing new trails in the Cactus League, but one thing hasn’t changed: they still can’t beat the Angels. This one fell apart in the seventh inning, when Reggie Willits started a rally by dropping a bunt single on Chin-lung Hu, who had just entered the game for his first inning of the spring at 3B. Mike Napoli homered later in the inning, and Nathan Haynes singled home Kendry Morales, who had doubled. All that happened against Saito, but no one was concerned. It was just his fourth appearance of the spring, and he is slightly behind some of the other relievers. He also was next to unhittable his first two times out. … D-Lowe looks like a guy who is ready for the season to start. He was perfect through three and held the Angels to a hit and a walk through five before running into trouble in the sixth, when he gave up a run on three hits. … No one did much at the plate, but Tony Abreu had a spectacular game at second base, making three great plays in the span of four batters in the fourth and fifth innings. … Kent was “disappointed” in how he felt when he tried to do some light running, manager Joe Torre said. He still got a few at-bats in the simulated game, but he is beginning to appear doubtful — my words, no one else’s — for opening day. We’ll see. … Dodgers lose their second in a row and fall to 9-15-2 for the spring.

Following orders

A guy just spent about 30 minutes touching up the Athletics logo in the grass behind home plate, painting the green-and-gold trim around it, because it had started to fade in the desert sun. Never mind the fact the A’s have left for Tokyo and their opener with Boston. Never mind the fact that the Dodgers are playing the Angels today. Never mind the fact this is the last game in this ballpark this spring. That guy’s job was to paint that logo, and he was going to paint that logo, by golly. … Beautiful day in PHX. Kent is going to get at-bats in a simulated game on a back field beyond right field DURING THE REGULAR GAME. He’ll hit off Broxton and Beimel, who will pitch back there to get their innings in. They won’t start until about the fifth inning of this game.

No Dodgers merchandise available anywhere in the stadium

That’s a sign that is posted all over Phoenix Muni. And really, why would they stock the place with Dodgers gear for a whopping two games, the last of which is this afternoon against the Halos. I’m assuming this game counts as the home half of this year’s Freeway Series, which will include a single game at Angel Stadium next Thursday night. … Just talked to Kent. He asked Ken Gurnick — who covers the Dodgers for and is a horse racing enthusiast who has actually owned race horses — what they do to a horse that has a hamstring injury. I thought he was asking rhetorically, like he already knew the answer, but he wasn’t. “They shoot them,” Gurnick said, and Kent just started laughing incredulously. Anyway, he says he is still shooting for being in the opening day lineup. As for any concern that he doesn’t have enough time to get enough game action, he pointed out that he only played in one or two games in the spring of 2002, then played on opening day. Asked what the result of that was, he says, “the 2002 World Series.” Asked what the more immediate result was, as in how he had played coming out of the gate, he said, correctly, “it doesn’t matter … but I think I did hit a home run in one of my first at-bats.” … Couldn’t resist calling Josh Rawitch, an Indiana grad, last night to gloat about Arkansas’ victory. Normally, I pay NO attention to the Razorbacks whatsoever. I’m only interested if they beat some school that some friend of mine went to, so I can gloat. It’s kind of a no-lose situation for me. If IU had won and Josh had called ME to gloat, it wouldn’t have made much of an impact because I DON’T CARE. Besides, the Woo Pig Sooie Nation is going to get crushed by the Tar Heels tomorrow anyway.

Diamondbacks 9, Dodgers 8

The boys blew a five-run lead in the late innings, but Andruw Jones went 3 for 4 with a double, a two-run homer and a stolen base. Chan Ho Park pitched three solid innings, shutting out the D-backs on two hits. Problem is, he actually pitched FOUR innings, and the fourth one wasn’t too good. He gave up back-to-back, one-out walks, then a three-run bomb to Chris Snyder, the first earned runs Park has allowed all spring. Snyder hit another three-run jack later in the game, and Rudy Seanez’s gopher ball to Justin Upton turned an 8-7 lead into a 9-8 deficit. Dodgers fall to 9-14-2 for the spring. Home against the Angels tomorrow.

Kent now questionable for opener

Joe Torre admitted as such this morning — not because Kent’s hamstring injury is expected to keep him out that long, but because it might keep him out just long enough that he won’t have time to get the requisite number of at-bats to be ready. It’s beginning to look like the Dodgers will open the season with a bunch of light-hitting, utility-infield type guys, not only on their roster but in their lineup. Because minor-league camp is still in Vero Beach, the club no longer has the option of sending Kent there to get some at-bats. … Great scene in the dugout this morning as we completed our daily pregame with Torre. Joe Garagiola walks in and says, “Hey, it’s Frank Torre’s brother.” Then Garagiola spots Nick Piecoro, a former Daily News sports intern who is now the Diamondbacks beat writer for the Arizona Republic and who has the physique of Ichibad Crane. So Joe G. goes up and grabs Nick’s upper arm and says, “Heeeyyyy, Muscles.” Then Joe G. turns to Torre and says, “Hey Joe, you got $25 so we can send him to camp?” … Chan Ho Park is dominating again, scoreless through three. But the best part is, he also doubled off Randy Johnson, then scored the only run of the game on a single by … well, I don’t want to say his name because every time I mention him on this blog, it starts a big rant, so let’s just say it was a light-hitting left fielder who runs well.

No trade is imminent

Ned says the spring-training trade market probably will heat up starting Monday, but he also said there is nothing out there that especially sparks his interest at this point, at least where a 3B is concerned. He also now says that Blake DeWitt will be given a chance to earn the job, but no more of a chance than Hu, Abreu or Martinez, and that is all assuming Nomar begins the season on the DL, something Ned isn’t about to concede at this point — even though, IMHO, it looks like a strong bet.
On another note, I have to say I already like Arizona better, after having been here a shade over 24 hours. I was here for a week with the Rockies back in 1999, but this is my first time back. It’s just a totally different feel

Nomar has an MRI

Doesn’t appear he’s going to play tomorrow, which was goal. It showed a microfracture in a small bone of his right wrist, which trainer Stan Conte likened to a small bone bruise. Nomar got a cortisone shot in the soft tissue to avoid swelling and will be re-examined in a couple of days. It is beginning to look like Ned is going to have to go get a 3B somewhere. … Beautiful day in the desert. I’m taking the day off, my first once since Feb. 11, but back at it tomorrow.

Dodgers 2, Marlins 1

Mark Sweeney hit a two-run HR off Burke Badenhop in the seventh inning, erasing a 1-0 deficit that had existed since the first. Hiroki Kuroda had easily his best outing of the spring, going five strong innings and allowing only that first-inning run, three hits and no walks. He then went to the bullpen and threw 23 more pitches just to get to his allotted 85. Takashi Saito followed with a perfect sixth inning and now hasn’t allowed a batter to reach base or a ball to be hit out of the infield in either of his two appearances. Clayton Kershaw pitched the final three, allowing two hits. He was called for a balk, but the first-base umpire making the call was Angel Hernandez, so take that for what it’s worth. Honeycutt said he has been working with Kershaw on holding down other teams’ running games, which appears right now to be the closest thing he has to a flaw. He’ll stay with the team through Arizona and California before returning to Double-A Jacksonville, which means Honeycutt and Torre have to get him enough innings to get him properly stretched out for the start of the minor-league season. … This one was over in two hours, 12 minutes, which would normally be a good thing because it was getaway day. But half the club stayed back in Vero to work out, then left on a bus at 2 p.m. for the West Palm Beach airport, where the whole team was to meet up for its charter to PHX. The game ended so quickly that the guys who played are going to have to wait at the airport for the guys who didn’t. … Dodgers finish Grapefruit League play 8-13-2, Tommy goes 2-6. No game tomorrow, “home” against the White Sox on Thursday at Phoenix Municipal Stadium — or Phoenix Muni, as the cool Cactus League veterans like to call it.

The real last day

Stopped off at Dodgertown before leaving town this morning — no, I wasn’t being extra sentimental, I just thought I could knock out a couple of things in the clubhouse before hitting the road, but I wasn’t able to — and there were suitcases everywhere. That is usually a sign that opening day is just around the corner, but this year, it’s just a sign that we’re all heading for the desert for a week, so it wasn’t all that exciting. … It’s overcast at Roger Dean Stadium, and although there is no rain in the forecast, I’m sure no one in the Dodgers’ traveling party would mind at all if this game becomes a casualty of Mother Nature. Or at least they wouldn’t have minded if those players who aren’t playing in today’s game weren’t leaving Dodgertown on a later bus that isn’t expected to leave until early afternoon. That would screw up any benefits of a rainout. The team is leaving this evening from West Palm Beach, which is just south of here. … Jason Johnson was reassigned to minor-league camp this morning, leaving 44 players in camp. … A colleague from the Bay Area, who is covering the Cactus League, emailed me this morning to say that Joe Torre and Bob Eucker were spotted dining last night at Don & Charlie’s in Scottsdale, and apparently George Will was in there eating, too.