Bullpen rumblings: Grabow out, Wright in.

The fortunes turned Monday for a pair of non-roster invitees in Dodgers camp: John Grabow opted out of his minor-league contract, and Jamey Wright was on the verge of signing a major-league contract, pending an official announcement from the team.

Grabow, 33, was among a small group of left-handers competing for one open bullpen spot, but has essentially lost the job to Wright despite not giving up a run this spring.

A native of Arcadia and a graduate of San Gabriel High School, Grabow walked one, struck out seven and allowed just four hits. He was eligible to opt out of his contract as a non-roster invitee as early as Sunday, and the move did not seem to catch manager Don Mattingly by surprise.

“He had an option. He exercised it. We kind of talked about it. Ned’s been talking with his agent,” Mattingly said. “Basically, he could do it at any time. He was basically giving us extra time to keep looking at him. He decided at this time to opt out. He’s been good in camp. Lefties, I always count on seeing them again. I figure we’ll see him somewhere down the line.”

Grabow last pitched one-third of an inning Saturday against the Cleveland Indians.
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Dodgers 1, Angels 1 (6).

Less than a half-hour after the final out, the sun was shining brightly over Camelback Ranch. But by then the fans were gone, players were changing into street clothes, and the final score — the Dodgers’ fourth tie of the Cactus League season (8-4-4) — seemed an insignificant afterthought. At least, no one in the press corps seemed bothered by the managers’ decision to end Sunday’s game after five and a half innings.

“We don’t want to sit out there and try to fight weather all day long after being here all day,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “The guys who needed work got their work, I’m happy with going home, to be honest with you.”

The actual game recap is a brief one:

The Angels’ Kole Calhoun scored in the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Mark Trumbo. Juan Uribe singled in Adam Kennedy for the Dodgers’ only run in the fifth. Both starting pitchers, Chris Capuano and Anaheim’s Dan Haren, allowed a mere two hits. John Grabow and Mike MacDougal worked one scoreless inning each out of the Dodgers’ bullpen.

After MacDougal’s last pitch, rain (and later hail) began to pelt the field hard enough that a tarp was rolled over the infield 1 hour and 16 minutes after first pitch.

The only semblance of drama for the Dodgers on this day took place before and after the game, when the second round of roster cuts was announced. Four players left the room in the morning, and catcher Gorman Erickson, catcher Matt Wallach, infielder Lance Zawadzki and first baseman Jeff Baisley were re-assigned to the minor league camp. More on that in tomorrow’s editions.

A few more notes:

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Biggest spring competitions? Mattingly identifies two.

Don Mattingly was asked a fairly straightforward question today: What are the most important competitions in spring training? He identified two.

“The biggest thing we look at for us is, is there going to be a left-hander that pops up? Maybe there’s two. See what happens with some of the older guys out in the bullpen. See if anybody emerges out there. On the infield, position players, those are guys we want to see – (Alex) Castellanos, (Scott) Van Slyke … Matt Angle – basically seeing some guys who may end up fitting with us by the time the year’s over if we have an injury here or an injury there.”

Scott Elbert pitched in 47 games last season out of the bullpen but the two other incumbent lefty relievers, Hong-Chih Kuo and Dana Eveland, have moved on. The other left-handers in camp (other than starters Clayton Kershaw, Ted Lilly and Chris Capuano) are John Grabow, Scott Rice, Wilfredo Ledezma, Matt Chico, Alberto Castillo and Michael Antonini.

Rice, Chico, Grabow and Castillo are non-roster invitees. Ledezma, a nine-year veteran, pitched in five games out of the Toronto Blue Jays’ bullpen last year but spent most of the season in Triple-A. Rice, a Simi Valley native and Royal High grad, has 12 years of minor league experience but has never cracked the big leagues. Chico, Grabow and Castillo all have some major-league experience, while Antonini has five years of minor-league service, all as a starter, including last season with Double-A Chattanooga.
The starting infield positions are basically set: Juan Uribe at third base, Dee Gordon at shortstop, Mark Ellis at second base and James Loney at first. Adam Kennedy and Jerry Hairston Jr. are first in line as backups.

In other words, the opening-day roster is overwhelmingly set.