Dodgers trade right-hander Aaron Harang to Colorado for catcher Ramon Hernandez

By Tom Hoffarth, Staff Writer

Aaron Harang doesn’t have to be the red herring in the pitching-deep Dodgers’ starting rotation plans any more. Now, the veteran right-hander might be more concerned if anyone wants him anymore.

The Dodgers alleviated confusion by trading Harang, along with $4.25 million to help pay his salary, to the Colorado Rockies on Saturday morning in exchange for one-time All-Star catcher Ramon Hernandez.

But the Rockies have no plans to keep Harang, making $7 million this season. He was immediately designated for assignment, giving the team 10 days to either trade or release him.

Hernandez, making $3.2 million, was expected to arrive in L.A. on Saturday night and joint the Dodgers today, giving them three catchers on the roster for the time being.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he will go according to plan and start rookie backup Tim Federowicz in the series finale this afternoon against Pittsburgh, giving starter A.J. Ellis the day off.

In Hernandez, the Dodgers get someone with 15 years of big-league experience, an All-Star with Oakland in 2003 and a career .264 hitter. Hernandez’s best seasons were with the A’s when he caught a staff that included Barry Zito, Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson from 2000-’03.

Hernandez, who turns 37 in May, has played in the divisional series playoffs with Cincinnati (2010) and San Diego (2005). During the 2006 season in Baltimore, Hernandez played in 144 games with 23 home runs and 91 RBI.

Still, the Venezuelan was the No. 3 catcher on Colorado’s roster this season behind Wilin Rosario and Yorvit Torrealba, playing in just 52 games last year (.217, 5 HRs) with various injury issues. He also has minimal experience playing first base.

Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said Hernandez’s experience and leadership are his strengths at this point in his career “and he will be a great resource for A.J.”

Harang, whose major contributions to Dodgers late-inning victories last year was strategically firing a Super Soaker full of water from the dugout to drench  that night’s hero, had been wandering aimlessly in the bullpen this spring and first week of the season.

The San Diego native made 31 starts last year, going 10-10 with 3.61 ERA in 31 starts. He was 1-2 in five games during spring training – all of them starts – and sporting an 8.20 ERA.

Once the Dodgers added free-agents Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu to the rotation, Harang’s job security was at stake, as well as prevous starters Chris Capuano and Ted Lilly.

Lilly has been on the disabled list since Opening Day trying to come back during rehab assignments in Single-A Rancho Cucamonga, but appears to be a ways off.

Mattingly has said Capuano, who started 33 games last year and was good enough in the first half of the season to be considered an All-Star candidate, has been able to adapt easier to a bullpen assignment than Harang, who in 299 games in his 11-year career only pitched in relief six times.

Mattingly said the 34-year-old Harang who played for four teams  “was one guy who I really couldn’t figure out how to use. He knows the business side and at the end of the day this will give him a chance to pitch somewhere, and it helps us.”

Longtime ump Wendelstedt dies at 73

Didn’t have enough room in the paper for all of this, so wanted to share the Associated Press obit. Some great stuff from Don Drysdale’s scoreless streak, 1988 NLCS and quotes from Tommy Lasorda …

NEW YORK (AP)– Longtime umpire Harry Wendelstedt, who worked five World Series
and made a call involving Don Drysdale that became one of baseball’s most disputed plays
in the late 1960s, died Friday. He was 73.
Wendelstedt died at Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Fla., near
the umpiring school he ran for more than three decades in Ormond Beach. He had been
diagnosed several years ago with a brain tumor.
Wendelstedt called seven NL championship series and four All-Star games, and was behind
the plate for five no-hitters. He was on the major league umpiring staff from 1966-98.
His son, Hunter, is a big league umpire and wears the same No. 21 that his father wore.
The Wendelstedts worked games together in 1998 — it was Hunter’s first year in the majors
and Harry’s last season.
Hall of Fame manager Tom Lasorda has championed Wendelstedt for enshrinement in
Cooperstown.
“He’s got as good a chance as anybody. He deserves it,” Lasorda told The Associated Press
after learning of Wendelstedt’s death.
Lasorda said he was scouting for Los Angeles and was in the stands when Wendelstedt made
his most notable call on May 31, 1968, at Dodger Stadium.
Drysdale was trying for his fifth straight shutout — and was heading toward setting a
then-record of 58 2-3 scoreless innings — when San Francisco loaded the bases with no outs
in the ninth inning.
Drysdale threw a 2-2 pitch that struck Dick Dietz on the elbow, and the shutout streak
seemed to be over. But Wendelstedt, the plate umpire, immediately ruled that Dietz didn’t
try to get out of the way. Wendelstedt called the pitch a ball and told Dietz to get back
in the batter’s box.
“I’d never seen that call before in the big leagues,” Lasorda recalled. “Never had seen
anyone make it.”
After a heated argument, the game resumed. On a full-count pitch, Dietz flied out and
Drysdale wound up pitching a shutout. Orel Hershiser set the shutout record of 59 innings
in 1988, pitching under Lasorda.
“Harry had a wide strike zone, he liked to see hitters swing the bat,” Lasorda said,
laughing. “Dick Dietz. Harry, he got him out. And the streak continued.”
Later in that 1968 season, Wendelstedt called balls-and-strikes when Gaylord Perry of the
Giants pitched a no-hitter against St. Louis. The next day, on Sept. 18, Wendelstedt was
at third base when Ray Washburn of the Cardinals no-hit San Francisco.
Not that all of Wendelstedt’s contested calls went in favor of pitchers. In the 1988 NLCS,
Wendelstedt confiscated the glove of Dodgers reliever Jay Howell after it was found to
have pine tar. Wendelstedt ejected Howell, drawing some lip from Lasorda, and the reliever
was subsequently suspended.
“We got along pretty well,” Lasorda remembered. “Nothing too bad.”
Harry Hunter Wendelstedt Jr. spent well over half his life in the umpiring field. Even
after his retirement, his umpiring school kept producing many young umpires who wound up
working in professional baseball.

Dodgers pillage Giants for Uribe

From our sister paper in San Jose …

By Andrew Baggarly
San Jose Mercury News
SAN JOSE, Calif. — San Francisco Giants fans had no qualms about turning on Jeff Kent after the former NL Most Valuable Player joined the archrival Dodgers. But it
might be a little tougher for them to chant “Booooo-ree-bay” at AT&T Park next
season.
The Dodgers poached one of the Giants’ World Series heroes Monday, agreeing with
popular infielder Juan Uribe on a three-year, $21 million contract that is pending a
physical. ESPN’s Buster Olney was the first to report the news.
Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti seems bent on breaking up as much of the Giants’
World Series championship team as possible. Colletti, a former top lieutenant to
Giants GM Brian Sabean, also had been after first baseman Aubrey Huff before the
Giants matched a two-year, $22 million guaranteed offer to bring him back.
But Sabean wasn’t willing to match the third year of the Dodgers’ offer to Uribe, who
hit .248 with 24 home runs and 85 RBIs, including several clutch hits over the season
and postseason.
Giants vice president Bobby Evans declined to comment on the deal until it became
official, but he indicated the club was ready to look in other directions to find a
starting shortstop for 2011.
“We’re exploring all possibilities on the trade and free-agent front,” Evans said.
“Some of them are the names that have been out there, others are not as
well-known.”
Uribe will remain well-known by fans in the Bay Area long after his career ends. His
solo home run in Game 6 of NLCS broke a 2-2 tie in the eighth inning, sending the
Giants to their first pennant since 2002. Uribe also hit the sacrifice fly to beat the
Phillies in Game 4 — afterward exclaiming in his limited but poetic English that he
felt “a lot of happy.”
Of Uribe’s 24 homers in the regular season, 11 either tied the score or put the Giants
ahead, most of them coming in the seventh inning or later. None was bigger than his
two-run shot Sept. 4 at Dodger Stadium, when he connected with one out in the ninth
off closer Jonathan Broxton to turn a 4-3 deficit into a 5-4 victory.
Giants fans picked up the “Oooo-ree-bay” chant they used in the 1980s for shortstop
Jose Uribe, who was Juan’s late uncle.
Uribe ended up at third base in the postseason, as shortstop Edgar Renteria cracked
the lineup and third baseman Pablo Sandoval became a bench player. But the Giants had
hoped to re-sign Uribe to play short, where he makes routine plays well enough despite
limited range.
The Giants will receive a compensatory draft pick between the first and second rounds
for losing Uribe, who will greet them in the April 1 season opener at Dodger Stadium.
It is likely the Giants will wait until April 11 to present Uribe with his ring, when
the Dodgers make their first visit to AT&T Park.