Jason Schmidt makes a somewhat surprising start

Jason Schmidt is on the mound in today’s game against the Pads. A little bit of a surprise because we’d been told Eric Stults was going to be throwing today. Instead he’s throwing in a minor league game over in Peoria. That doesn’t mean he’s been sent down though. Basically with a week to go in spring training, the Dodgers wanted both of them to get some time and this was essentially Schmidt’s last opportunity to throw against major league hitters.

And, for the first time this spring, the Dodgers have their entire starting lineup on the field. It’s been close the last two days, but Casey Blake was gone while his wife was was giving birth to their fourth child.

Dodgers workout Will Ohman

The Dodgers worked out left-handed relief pitcher Will Ohman on a back field at Camelback Ranch this morning.

Ohman went 4-1 with a 3.68 ERA for the Braves last year, appearing in 83 games and pitching 58 2/3 innings with 53 strikeouts and 22 walks. Before that, he spent five seasons with the Cubs.

Ohman would be vying for the situational-lefty job out of the pen that Erick Threets and Brian Mazone are competing for.

The team is still in talks with his representatives.

UPDATE: Here’s what Joe Torre had to say about it.

“We’re interested. He’s been throwing,” Joe Torre said. “Ned’s talking to his representative to figure out if it’s going to work. It’s a tough time in spring training to come in and say you’re ready. He showed me he’s been throwing, it didn’t take him long to get loose and there’s a certain element of sharpness too that you’d like to have.

“Just where we are in spring training … but what we saw today was the quality of the stuff even though you can see he hasn’t been pitching in games, as far as his command.

DeWitt in limbo

The Dodgers have had extended discussions about utility infielder Blake DeWitt in recent days, debating whether their promising youngster is better served starting the season in Triple-A and playing regularly, or staying up with the major-league club as a back-up infielder.

If he were to stay with the Dodgers, he’d likely play a lot of shortstop when Rafael Fucal is given days off. DeWitt said he’s very comfortable playing the position, having grown up as a shortstop, but Torre indicated the club thought Juan Castro and Chin-lung Hu were better defensively. That doesn’t mean DeWitt is out of the running though.

“I think he can hold his own there,” Torre said.

But when Torre projects what the 23-year old DeWitt can become if he continues to develop, he sees him like Boston third baseman Mike Lowell.

“The kid has such a tremendous make-up,” Torre said. “He’s still in the development stage. And it’s not easy to ask a young kid to come in and swing off the bench.”

Appreciating Manny

Joe Torre saw a lot of Manny Ramirez from the opposite dugout as manager of the Yankees. Now that he’s seen him up close, and how he goes about the business of being one of the best hitters in baseball, he’s got even more respect for him.

“He’s kind of a throwback,” Torre said. “It’s very refreshing to me, and it’s really fun to watch. …There’s a good reason people don’t understand Manny, because they really aren’t around him. You really have to see him on a day to day basis to appreciate how serious he is.

“But there’s that ESPN b-roll stuff where he’s rolling over, cutting off a ball he’s not supposed to. …But he’s so serious about what he does, even in his preparation.”

Torre said the most impressive thing about Ramirez’ approach at the plate is how globally he thinks about it. Setting pitchers up early in the game for a more critical at-bat later, figuring out which pitch he can hit squarely and how best to beat each pitcher he faces.

“Hitters now-a-days, as opposed to what he does, they’re more concerned about swing,” Torre said. “He’s concerned about he’s going to get this guy. …You know it surprises the hell out of me if he strikes out. He’s got such good coverage and anticipation.”

Manny Ramirez is human

The Dodgers loaded the bases in the top of the third on singles by Blake DeWitt and Rafael Furcal and a walk by Orlando Hudson, bringing up Manny Ramirez with one out. The split White Sox-Dodgers crowd here at the spitting camel ranch got on its feet, half booing loudly, half cheering wildly.

The kind of moment Manny lives for right? And after ripping crisp singles in his last four at-bats, it looked like White Sox starter Gavin Floyd was in some trouble.

Instead, Floyd got Ramirez to ground into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning, shattering his bat in the process, and running his broken-bat count to three in just three innings of work. Earlier he shattered two of Andre Ethier’s bats.

They built it and fans are coming

So far, so good in terms of the attendance figures at Camelback Ranch versus Dodgertown.

The Dodgers are averaging 9,298 fans here in their inaugural season at CBR, which is exactly five fans more than the largest crowd ever to attend a game at Holman Stadium in Vero Beach. That crowd, not surprisingly, came in a 2008 affair with the Red Sox.

The highest spring season average at Holman came in 1991 when the team averaged 6,504 fans.