Scott Elbert to receive first big-league callup tomorrow

The Dodgers are expected to purchase the contract of the left-hander and former first-round draft pick from Double-A Jacksonville. Corresponding move will be announced at that time. Once one of the organization’s top pitching prospects, Elbert missed most of last season with a shoulder injury that effectively turned him into a reliever, at least for now. At Jacksonville this season, he has made one start and 24 relief appearances and gone 4-1 with a 2.40 ERA. He has allowed just 22 hits in 41 1/3 innings, struck out 46 and walked 20.

Sturtze designated for assignment

Tanyon Sturtze’s one-day reprieve turned into exactly that. He was DFA’d today to make room for Cory Wade to come off the DL. What the Dodgers have done in DFA’ing Pablo Ozuna and Sturtze the past two days is clear two 40-man spots, which are expected to be filled in the next few days by reliever Scott Proctor when he is activated from the 60-day DL and catcher A.J. Ellis when his contract is purchased from Triple-A Las Vegas for the September roster expansion. They’ll still need to clear 40-man spots for Rafael Furcal and Jason Schmidt if they come back anytime this season. Players on the 15-day DL count against the 40-man roster, while players on the 60-day do not.

Tonight’s lineup: Ramirez/Kent flipped, Martin and Nomar sit

I asked Torre last night if he was thinking about a change with Kent because he had stopped benefiting from hitting in front of Manny. He said he didn’t want to announce a change without taking a long look at it. Well, I guess he took a long look at it. Kent is hitting fourth tonight, in front of Loney, the first time he has hit in front of anyone other than Manny since he hit in front of Casey Blake on Aug. 5. Nomar has three hits in his past 30 at-bats. Martin isn’t slumping, but he needs a day off, and the Dodgers don’t have any day games after night games coming up. … By the way, I wrote in today’s paper that Jeff Kent is 5 for 28 since he was given last Thursday off. My mistake. He is 5 for 27. I was counting an 11th inning at-bat on Sunday night at Philly. That was actually Pablo Ozuna, who had entered defensively for Kent in the bottom of the ninth.

Kemp. CF
Ethier. RF
Ramirez. LF
Kent. 2B
Loney. 1B
Blake. 3B
Ardoin. C
Berroa. SS
Kershaw. LHP

The one that got away

It’s hard to blame the Dodgers for letting Joel Hanrahan get away. Although he was long one of their top pitching prospects, the key word there is “long.” He was in the organization for seven seasons, spending at least parts of three of them in Triple-A, and yet he was never quite able to make the jump to the majors. He also seemed to backslide in 2005, the year after he spent the entire season at Las Vegas and went 7-7 with a decent-for-the-PCL 5.05 ERA. But he backslid in 2005, started the season in high Single-A after coming back from an injury, then never got above Double-A the rest of the year. He split 2006 between Jacksonville and Las Vegas, but no one could blame him when he left after that season for minor-league free agency, something he had earned the right to do after accruing so much time in the minors. When the Nationals signed him to a major-league contract two winters ago — he still began the season in Triple-A — no one could have imagined that he would eventually become their closer. It was even more difficult to imagine that he would post saves on back-to-back nights against his old club. But as critical as I have been of Nats GM Jim Bowden — see my previous post — you have to give Jimbo credit for finding this one. And you have to give Hanrahan credit for establishing a niche, and a foothold, in the majors after all those years in the minors with the Dodgers.

Professionalism takes a vacation

Washington Nationals general manager Jim Bowden, a man who was difficult to take seriously when I first met him eight years ago when he was the Reds GM and I was starting on the beat there, is even MORE difficult to take seriously now. As he walked onto the field today to watch his team taking batting practice, he was wearing fake Manny Ramirez dreadlocks under a Nationals cap. This is the same guy who, on a Reds interleague trip to Texas in 2002, stood behind the cage dressed head to toe in Western wear, including cowboy hat and cowboy boots. Despite the props, he didn’t in any way look the part, and the scouts who typically gather in the press box just before the game were laughing hysterically at him. One day, when he is done playing around, Jimbo might want to put some time into building a team that doesn’t have the worst record in the majors. … Dodgers decided to hold off on that second roster move, so Tanyon Sturtze gets a reprieve. He might not even be the odd man out now. Torre said it depends on what happens tonight and how deep he has to go into the bullpen.

Blake DeWitt recalled, Pablo Ozuna DFA’d

Didn’t see this one coming. Guess is has something to do with the team’s sagging offense. DeWitt was batting .500 (11 for 22) over a four-game stretch that ended on Saturday, but according to his day-by-day stats on milb.com, he hasn’t played since. Not sure why, but I’ll try to find out. … Ozuna had become nothing more than a late-inning defensive replacement and pinch runner, but I would imagine if he clears waivers, he’ll be back next week. … A few minutes ago, the club also announced that Cory Wade was coming off the DL and that Tanyon Sturtze had been DFA’d, but they quickly retracted that. Not sure why, unless they decided to wait a couple of days because Cory is still sore.

Arizona Fall League roster finalized

Reported a few days ago that it was going to include Ivan De Jesus, Lucas May, Andrew Lambo and Scott Elbert. It will be rounded out by Justin Orenduff, Travis Schlichting and Brent Leach, and the “taxi squad” — these are extra guys who are only allowed to play on Wednesdays and Saturdays — will consist of Russell Mitchell and Jamie Hoffman. You can look all those guys up on milb.com, and a lot of you already know who they are, but suffice to say, they are ALL legit prospects. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be headed to the AFL, which is reserved for the elite prospects around baseball. The Dodgers contingent will play for Surprise. … According to an item in today’s Washington Times, when Greg Maddux takes the hill for the Dodgers tonight, he will become the first 350-game winner to pitch in Washington since Walter Johnson’s final appearance of his career on Sept. 22, 1927. Only one other 350-game winner has ever pitched here is some guy named Cy Young, who last pitched here on July 29, 1911.

This is getting ridiculous

Over their past three games, the Dodgers have gone 4 for 39 w/RISP. And the thing is, two of those four hits DIDNT EVEN SCORE THE RUN. It has become almost comical — and yes, Joe Torre admitted after the game that he is getting to the point where he has to laugh to avoid crying. Every time the Dodgers get a hit with a man on second but the ball is hit so hard the runner has to stop at third, you KNOW they’re not going to get him home. The entire visiting writers’ row in the press box burst into laughter — not AT the Dodgers, mind you, but at the sheer absurdity of it all — when, with the bases loaded and nobody out in the sixth, Nomar Garciaparra lined out to third and Nats 3B Ryan Zimmerman managed to double Manny Ramirez off third. Nats manager Manny Acta then walked Casey Blake to load the bases, even though the runners had been on first and second, to bring Derek Lowe to the plate. The question was asked of Joe after the game whether he considered pinch hitting in that spot, and his answer was that he still needed a pitcher in the game who could shut down the other team. At any rate, Lowe struck out, and the Dodgers had wasted another chance. … The Nats, by the way, came into yesterday ranked last in the N.L. in hitting, next to last in fielding and 12th in the league in pitching. Oh, and they also had the worst record in the majors. And for one night, at least, the Dodgers couldn’t hang with them.

Torre responds to Hershiser

This is for tomorrow’s paper. It is important to reiterate here that Joe did NOT hear Hershiser’s comments directly, nor did I, so this is kind of awkward reporting.

Dodgers manager Joe Torre took exception on Tuesday to comments made by former Dodgers World Series hero Orel Hershiser during the ESPN2 broadcast of Monday night’s loss at Philadephia, although it wasn’t immediately clear what those comments were. Torre said he had been told of them secondhand, and Hershiser, who served as an in-game analyst for the cable channel, declined a request from the Daily News immediately after that game to clarify what he had said on the air.
“Just listen to the broadcast,” Hershiser said. “I don’t want to say it for the paper.”
According to multiple sources, Hershiser, who also worked a Dodgers-Phillies game in Los Angeles for ESPN2 on Aug. 11, questioned the Dodgers’ passion and team chemistry.
“He came in (before Monday’s game) and talked to me, and I did a couple of interviews,” Torre said. “(But) I never got any questions along those lines. I don’t know where that came from. For me, I don’t think there is any prototypical passionate team that has guys hanging from lockers and stuff. This game really is about determination moreso than showing somebody else what they think it should look like.”
Hershiser pitched for the Dodgers from 1983-94 and again in 2000 and was the Most Valuable Player of the 1988 World Series. He also seemed for a time to be a candidate for the team’s managerial vacancy after Jim Tracy was fired following the 2005 season.
“I have always been a proponent of the fact you have to eliminate the highs and lows in this game, because you have to keep it on an even keel and maintain it for 162 games. I don’t know any clubhouse where, if you have lost three (in a row) and five of six, you’re going to see guys jumping around and doing things other people consider positive.”

Orel Hershiser’s remarks

They seem to have created quite a stir on the blogosphere today, but I haven’t heard them for myself, and so I’m obviously a little leery of writing much about them. I did receive an IM during the game last night (from my dad) telling me that Orel was very critical of the Dodgers during the ESPN2 broadcast. I actually waited for Orel after the game (at the cost of missing Torre’s postgame), but when I got him, he didn’t want to comment for the paper. “Just listen to the broadcast,” he said. Tough to do when you’re on a deadline, and frankly, I don’t know that you can even get that on-line anywhere. From what I have been told, he said something about walking through the clubhouse before the game and seeing a “passionless” team, although I don’t have any proof that that is the word he used (even though I have heard it from a couple of different sources). But if anybody can turn me on to a web site where there might be actual footage (or sound) of these comments, I would love to go there.