Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

Tag: Blake DeWitt (Page 1 of 2)

Nine surprising Opening Day starters for the Dodgers

Luis Cruz greets Justin Sellers during Opening Day introductions in 2013. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Luis Cruz greets Justin Sellers during 2013 Opening Day introductions. (Photos by Jon SooHoo)

Vicente Padilla allowed seven runs in 4 1/3 innings on Opening Day 2010. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Vicente Padilla allowed seven runs in 4 1/3 innings on Opening Day 2010.

By Jon Weisman

Every spring, there’s tons of edge-of-your-laptop anticipation over who will start for the Dodgers on Opening Day, even if it won’t mean much by the end of that year, month, week or game.

Going back 30 years, here are nine of the most eccentric picks for the Dodgers’ season-opening lineups. Do you remember them all? They’re each peculiar yet lovable in their own way …

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Saturday’s 1-0 walkoff sacrifice fly was the second in L.A. Dodger history

[mlbvideo id=”34543357″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]

Padres at Dodgers, 1:10 p.m.
Dee Gordon, 2B
Carl Crawford, LF
Yasiel Puig, RF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Andre Ethier, CF
Juan Uribe, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Miguel Rojas, SS
Hyun-Jun Ryu, P

By Jon Weisman

Saturday brought the 159th 1-0 victory in the 57 seasons of the Los Angeles Dodgers, but also something much more unusual than that.

A.J. Ellis provided the 13th 1-0 Dodger victory in which the winning run came in by sacrifice fly, and the first since June 3, 2009 (Casey Blake). Before that was the June 28, 2008 game (Blake DeWitt) that the Dodgers won with no hits.

Saturday also marked the first time the Dodgers had won, 1-0, on a ninth-inning sacrifice fly since May 29, 1992 (Todd Benzinger) at Wrigley Field.

But not for 25 years had the Dodgers had a walkoff sacrifice fly in a 1-0 victory, not since May 1, 1989.

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The rarity of Dodger rookie regulars in April

Los Angeles Dodgers first full squad workout

By Jon Weisman

Just to show how unprecedented it would be for Alex Guerrero to step into the Dodger starting lineup at the beginning of the 2014 campaign, consider this:

In the eight previous seasons of the Ned Colletti era, no position player without previous MLB experience has been the Dodgers’ intended starter in March or April.

Since Colletti arrived, only three Dodgers have started more than 10 games before April 30 without previously playing in the Majors, and none was the first resort:

Blake DeWitt and James Loney in action at Game 1 of the 2008 National League Championship Series in Chicago. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers 2008)

Blake DeWitt and James Loney in action at Game 1 of the 2008 National League Championship Series in Chicago. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

James Loney, 2006: Loney made his debut on April 4 and started 10 games in a platoon with Olmedo Saenz while the Dodgers waited for Nomar Garciaparra to recover from a strained ribcage muscle suffered in the Freeway Series. Loney, who OPSed .595 in 44 plate appearances during this first taste of the Show, went to Triple-A once Garciaparra was activated April 22.

Blake DeWitt, 2008: DeWitt had but 45 games of experience above Single-A when he was thrust into the role of starter at third base, thanks to injuries not only to Garciaparra (wrist microfracture) but also Andy LaRoche (torn ulnar collateral ligament in right thumb) — both suffered in the same March 7 Spring Training game — as well as Tony Abreu. Nicknamed “The Solution,” DeWitt played regularly at third base with an OPS above .800 as he passed the 200-plate appearance mark in mid-June, before he slumped and was ultimately replaced by midseason acquisition Casey Blake. DeWitt remains the only Colletti-era Dodger to start the most games of anyone at his position in a given year (77) without having previously earned an MLB paycheck.

Jerry Sands, 2011: Sands slugged .529 for Double-A Chattanooga in 2010, but still began 2011 in the minors as predicted. He was called up April 18 to fill the roster spot of Xavier Paul, who was designated for assignment, and play some left field in a year the Dodgers began with Tony Gwynn Jr., Marcus Thames and Paul (with a sprinkle of Jamie Hoffmann). Sands played somewhat regularly into early June and ended up starting 53 games for Los Angeles in left field, right field and at first base.

Bringing up players in May has been a different story: Russell Martin, Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp are notable examples. But handing a position to a pure rookie before May Day just hasn’t been happening. Even Yasiel Puig, of course, waited until June last year.

While Guerrero isn’t a typical rookie, it would still be groundbreaking for him to serve as a regular for the Dodgers in March and April.

The return of the Cool-a-Coo?

Dodgers at Cubs, 11:20 a.m.
Matt Kemp is resting a tight left hamstring but is available to pinch-hit, according to pregame reports. Kemp has started 123 consecutive games, according to Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A., and played in 392 in a row.

However, the start of today’s game is delayed by rain. 

Dee Gordon, SS
Mark Ellis, 2B
Andre Ethier, RF
Juan Rivera, LF
Jerry Hairston Jr., 3B
James Loney, 1B
A.J. Ellis, C
Tony Gwynn Jr., CF
Aaron Harang, P

Apparently, a Cool-a-Coo resurrection is possible after all.

All my research had shown that Cool-a-Coos, the greatest dessert treat in sports history, had disappeared when the company had gone out of business, but according to Bill Shaikin of the Times, they’re being manufactured by a small company under the name of “Mr. Cool.”

If it’s the real deal, then the Dodgers absolutely need to bring them back as soon as possible. And please, don’t try to sell me on the Its-It. It’s not the same thing.

Elsewhere …

  • Looking ahead: After today’s game, the Dodgers have four consecutive series against their four National League West rivals. Three of those series are at home.
  • According to the Elias Sports Bureau (via ESPN Stats & Information), Chris Capuano had an 0-1 count on 20 of 26 batters he faced Saturday.
  • Teams are starting to shift against Matt Kemp, writes Christina Kahrl for ESPNLosAngeles.com – taking into account his tendency not to pull the ball.
  • John C. McGinley will play Red Barber in the upcoming Jackie Robinson movie 42, writes Dave McNary of Variety.
  • Tommy John surgeon Dr. Frank Jobe, Jim “Mudcat” Grant, and Luis Tiant have been elected to the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals. They finished in the top three by receiving at least 33 percent of votes. Just missing election this year were Lefty O’Doul (32%), Dizzy Dean (30%), Manny Mota (29%), Don Zimmer (29%), Steve Bilko (27%), Charlie Finley (25%), and Glenn Burke (24%). Induction day is July 15.
  • Steve Dilbeck of the Times becomes the latest to wonder why Jerry Hairston Jr. wouldn’t be the Dodgers’ regular third baseman even when Juan Uribe is healthy. The argument is that Hairston would wear down – the response would be whether Uribe isn’t already worn down.
  • Alex Castellanos and Scott Van Slyke were named Triple-A all-stars for the month of April by Baseball America.
  • Wrightly or wrongly, third baseman David Wright, an obvious trade target for the Dodgers, is likely to remain a Met, writes Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com.
  • The Cubs have designated Blake DeWitt (.305 OPS) for assignment.
  • A shoutout to Scott of venerable Rancho Park Pharmacy, thanks to Scott mentioning these words last week when I picked up my prescription: “R.J. Reynolds.”

 

Hitting prospects Silverio, Songco sidelined

Minor-league center fielder Alfredo Silverio, considered by some the Dodgers’ top position-player prospect, will be sidelined indefinitely as he recovers from a serious January car accident in the Dominican Republic. Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. and Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com reported initial details, and Jackson has a follow-up.

… In short, the kid is lucky. From talking to various people (still haven’t been able to talk to Silverio), this is what I have been able to cull: the accident happened on a stretch of road called Curva de la Muerte, which translates to Curve of Death. Apparently, he was going about 60 mph and lost control, the car going off the road and flipping several times. He temporarily lost consciousness, and the car was demolished. …

Silverio, 25 in May, had a .883 OPS for Double-A Chattanooga last year.

Meanwhile, Angelo Songco “is expected to miss the next two to three months after having a rod inserted into his lower right leg,” Jackson adds, the results of complications from a 2011 injury. Now 23, Songco had a .948 OPS for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga.

* * *

  • The boys in the press corp also confirmed that Clayton Kershaw is scheduled to pitch the season opener in San Diego on April 5 and the home opener in Los Angeles on April 10. An off day follows the Dodgers’ first four games, meaning that the No. 5 starter, probably Chris Capuano, will be in the bullpen for the first series of the year. The last Dodger pitcher to start a road Opening Day and a subsequent home opener was Tim Belcher in 1989, in part because Orel Hershiser had the flu.
  • Today in Jon SooHoo: Kirk Gibson and Hershiser in that spring of ’89.
  • Dee Gordon had to get stitches on his lip today following a bad-hop grounder, according to Dylan Hernandez of the Times.
  • Blake DeWitt, at age 26, has earned the moniker “professional hitter” from Cubs manager Dale Sveum, according to Doug Padilla of ESPNChicago.com.
  • Manager Pedro Guerrero? Oh yeah …
  • Adrian Beltre, bathroom trendsetter? Okay …

 

President’s Night links


Because the night belongs to links …
Because the night belongs to us …

  • ESPNLosAngeles.com’s new Dodger blog, Dodger Report, has launched with the great Tony Jackson at the helm. Here’s his introductory post.
  • Here’s video of Vin Scully at Spring Training 1988, supplied by Kevin Kaduk of Big League Stew.
  • Today in Jon SooHoo: a nice salute to photographer Herb Scharfman.
  • Recently in Jon SooHoo: Darren Dreifort 1998 pretends to be Mike Scioscia 1988.
  • Yep, Manny Ramirez and the A’s have agreed to that minor-league deal, for whom he’ll be eligible to play after serving out a 50-game suspension. Here’s reaction and analysis from David Schoenfield of ESPN.com and Eno Sarris of Fangraphs.
  • Ned Colletti would like to sign Andre Ethier to a long-term contract, he told Fox in this video interview embedded by Steve Dilbeck of Dodgers Now.
  • Steve Yeager has taken the role of special-assignment catching instructor, reports Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.
  • Kansas City reliever Jonathan Broxton (yep, that looks funny) seems confident enough about the 2012 season, in this Associated Press story.
  • As expected, Blake DeWitt has remained in the Cub organization, notes MLB Trade Rumors.
  • DodgerFan.net has a roundup of stories on several other new ex-Dodgers, such as Rafael Furcal.
  • Dodger minor leaguer Blake Smith was interviewed by Dustin Nosler of Feelin’ Kinda Blue.
  • Former Dodger manager Jim Tracy has received, unexpectedly in my mind, an “indefinite” contract extension from Colorado.
  • The LFP found a great picture of Frank Howard, Gil Hodges and Gil Hodges Jr. from 1961.
  • Keith Olbermann explores a mystery about 1964 Mickey Mantle baseball cards at Baseball Nerd.
  • Robert Lipsyte penned a first-person remembrance for the New York Times on the Mets’ first Spring Training, 50 years ago.
  • Such sad news: Fox sportscaster Chris Myers’ 19-year-old son died in a car crash last week (via FishbowlLA). Please keep their family and friends in your thoughts.

Infielder roulette

Monday was a day of past Dodger infielders making news, and present Dodger infielders become past ones.

  • Russell Mitchell was designated for assignment to make room on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster for Todd Coffey. He could return to the organization if he clears waivers. (Remembering 2011: Russell Mitchell)
  • Blake DeWitt, once upon a time known as “The Solution,” was designated for assignment by the Cubs, who acquired him in the Ted Lilly trade a couple years back. DeWitt, 26, had a 95 OPS+ (.305 on-base percentage, .413 slugging) with Chicago in 2011, compared with Adam Kennedy’s 79 OPS+ for Seattle – but don’t expect the Dodgers to give someone up to acquire DeWitt, who more likely would end up back in the minors for the Cubs.
  • Alex Cora is still at it, signing a minor-league deal with St. Louis.
  • Edwin Jackson reportedly turned down a three-year, $30 million deal with Pittsburgh to sign with Washington for one year and $11 million, banking on doing better in next season’s free-agent market (or just determined to set a record for organizations in a career).
  • Dodgers assistant general manager of amateur and international scouting Logan White talked about some of his prize picks – Zach Lee, Clayton Kershaw, Allen Webster, Nathan Eovaldi and Chris Reed – with David Laurila for Fangraphs.
  • Up-and-coming reliever Shawn Tolleson was profiled by Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.
  • The late Jose Lima is the subject of a recent SABR biography by Rory Costello.
  • Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. is taking a day-by-day look at the Dodgers’ divisional rivals, starting with Arizona on Monday and continuing with San Francisco today.
  • Monday in Jon SooHoo: Blake Griffin and Matt Kemp.
  • Mark Prior is trying one more time to salvage his pitching career, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (via Drew Silva of Hardball Talk). Prior last pitched in the majors in 2006 and won only two games after his 25th birthday.
  • Also aspiring to come back: Brandon Webb, out since Opening Day 2009.
  • Tim Lincecum talks about Clayton Kershaw, among other topics, in this video passed along by Roberto Baly of Vin Scully Is My Homeboy.
  • Here’s a simple dice baseball game designed for kids ages 3-6, via Baseball Think Factory.
  • One last baseball-oriented remark about “Smash” that I tweeted: “Hilty is the proven veteran talent. McPhee is green but higher-ceiling. It’s Juan Rivera vs. Jerry Sands. Harang vs. Eovaldi.”  Except this wasn’t quite right. It’s more like A.J. Ellis vs. Tim Federowicz.
  • Ten years ago, while on detail for MLB.com in Venezuela, former Dodger communications vice president Josh Rawitch wrote about an up-and-coming Rivera.
  • In this terrific podcast interview, ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Kamenetzky brothers talk to Oscar-nominated actor Gary Oldman about, among many other things in a 45-minute chat, his great admiration and love for baseball.
  • This seemed to fascinate some folks on Twitter late Monday: Take a look at these NPR contributor bios, and see if their pictures match with your images of them.

Ned Colletti’s menagerie

With my third Sweet Spot post, I finally bring things back to the Dodgers …

My recent interview with Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti prompted me to reflect on a little-discussed aspect of his tenure  …

Blakey stick around

Blake DeWitt doesn’t need to worry about being sent to the minors anymore – and that was true before Monday’s five-RBI explosion – writes Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com. “I finally had to call him in at one point and tell him, ‘No, you’re not going (to the minor leagues),”‘ Dodger manager Joe Torre told Jackson. “And then I said, ‘We’re going to make another move this weekend, and it’s not going to be you then, either.”‘

* * *

  • The Dodgers begin the day with the second-best record in the National League (half a game behind San Diego) and fourth-best in the majors (3 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay).
  • A 3-year-old girl is expected to recover after a batting practice line drive from Russell Martin fractured her skull, reports Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. My sincerest best wishes to her and her family.
  • While the Dodger starting rotation has stabilized for the time being, Albuquerque still has a makeshift bunch. Brent Leach continues to be pressed into starting duty, and Monday he allowed seven runs in 1 2/3 innings – then was ejected for hitting a batter with a pitch – in what became a 20-7 Isotopes defeat. Ivan DeJesus, Jr. went 3 for 3 with a walk.
  • Tim Sexton struck out 10 in six shutout innings, giving up four hits and walking none, for Chattanooga in a 3-0 victory. Sexton, who turns 23 Thursday, has a 4.22 ERA with 43 strikeouts in 49 innings this season against 69 baserunners.
  • Revenue for Southern California college and pro sports dropped 18 percent from 2007 to 2009, according to a study conducted by graduate students from the UCLA Anderson School of Management and reported in the Times.
  • The MLB draft continues today with the second round starting at 9 a.m.

Monahysteria spreads while DeWitt drives home five in 12-4 victory


Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US Presswire
Blake DeWitt drove in five runs, three on this, his first home run of the year.

On a night that Blake DeWitt drove in a career-high five runs, one of the mesmo men was at it again.

Carlos Monasterios pitched a two-hitter for six innings despite striking out nary a batter. Even after giving up Ryan Ludwick’s second solo homer of the night and a Randy Winn single to start the seventh inning, Monasterios can go to sleep tonight with his ERA still at 2.27 for the season and, thanks to an efficient Dodger offense capped by DeWitt’s first home run of the season, a 12-4 Dodger victory Monday over St. Louis.

Monasterios needed only 41 pitches to get through four innings, then got into a two-walk, none-out jam in the fifth but escaped with a double play and a fly out. He cruised into the seventh inning even though, according to Vin Scully, there was only one swing and miss against Monasterios all night. But as has been the case most of the year with Monasterios and John Ely, the contact wasn’t enough to do major damage.

After taking a 2-0 lead in the first inning and then seeing it halved in the next frame by Ludwick’s first home run, the Dodgers scored four runs in both the fourth and fifth innings, with pretty much everyone getting into the act. Manny Ramirez started things off with a double, and after a Ronnie Belliard walk, scored on a DeWitt single. A.J. Ellis squeezed home Belliard, and after Monasterios sacrificed, Rafael Furcal hit a ground-rule double to right to make the score 6-1.

In the fifth, walks to Andre Ethier and James Loney were followed by a Belliard RBI single, and then DeWitt hit one off the right-field foul-pole screen to make it 10-1.

Every Dodger starting position player (plus pinch-hitter Garret Anderson) had a hit except Loney, who walked three times. And every Dodger starter scored in this emphatic end to the streak of winning games by one run.

* * *

Congrats to the family of Dodger PR veep Josh Rawitch, who not only became the father of his second child today, but had the birth announced on the air by Scully.

Elymania! Dodgers 6, Astros 2

Alex Gallardo/AP
John Ely: 24 strikeouts since his last walk.

Well, the infamous eighth inning came, and once again John Ely couldn’t get past it.

I kid, of course. I kid, because I love. Love love love.

The 24-year-old rookie has now faced 84 consecutive batters without walking one – by far the longest active streak in the majors – and more importantly, pitched well enough Monday to lead the Dodgers to their eighth consecutive victory, 4-2 over Houston.

Need someone to tell you what facing Ely is like? Try asking the Astros’ best hitter, Lance Berkman. In the top of the fourth, Berkman worked the count to 3-2 (only the second three-ball count for Ely to that point). Undaunted, Ely offered a tantalizing 76-mph changeup that drew Berkman into swinging early, and he was done. His next time up, with the count 2-2, Ely froze Berkman on an 89-mph fastball.

It’s not about the speed. It’s about the fact that Ely has become a puppetmaster out there.

He struck out a career-high eight in his career-high seven innings – his longest outing ever complemented by his lowest pitch count ever, 97. Allowing two runs, he lowered his season ERA to 3.51 while raising his strikeout total to 25 in 25 2/3 innings, against 25 baserunners.

Not only has Ely not walked anyone in his past 23 innings, he hasn’t allowed an extra-base hit in his past 23 innings.

Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. tweeted that Ely is the first pitcher since Ross Grimsley 1971 to have three starts of at least six innings with no walks out of the first four in his career.

Remarkable.

Ely actually allowed a first-inning run, but the Dodgers came back with three in the bottom of the first off Wandy Rodriguez, aided by a close call at second base that could have been a forceout but instead loaded the bases. James Loney followed with a sacrifice fly to tie the game, and then slumping Casey Blake rapped a shallow double just inside the first-base line to score two more runs (including Matt Kemp, who saw the opportunity in front of him instead of third-base coach Larry Bowa’s stop sign).

Blake DeWitt had two triples to right field tonight (besting Hunter Pence, who was shading him toward center), scoring once to give the Dodgers a 4-1 lead in the fourth, then driving in two with the other to boost the Dodgers’ lead in the eighth to 6-2. It was the 19th time that a Los Angeles Dodger has tripled twice in a game. (I’m sure everyone remembers Eric Anthony matching the feat in a Dodger uniform.)

With Jonathan Broxton taking the night off, Jeff Weaver, George Sherrill and Ramon Troncoso combined for two shutout innings of relief, giving the Dodger bullpen a 0.90 ERA over 20 innings during the winning streak.

Ely, who went out for a pinch-hitter with the Dodgers leading 4-2 in the bottom of the seventh, will continue to be tested, by teams much more challenging than the 2010 Houston Astros, but so far in this riotous world, he’s been like a dose of nature sounds. He’s been as respendently good as Takashi Saito in his first season as a Dodger – only he does it for six innings or more at a time.

“He hasn’t had a bad outing,” Dodger manager Joe Torre said on Prime Ticket after the game. “The first one, the numbers didn’t look very very good, but I thought he competed very well. Tonight, he looked terrific.”

Said Ely: “I’m just going out there with the same game plan – trying to throw strikes and keep the ball down.”

The kid must be on cloud nine.

Update San Diego defeated San Francisco, which means that the Dodgers remain two games out of first place in the National League West but move within half a game of the second-place Giants.

Update 2: Memories of Kevin Malone is among the sites tracking the best of Twitter-based Elymania.

Heroes aplenty as Dodgers romp over Pirates

The magnificent Andre Ethier is the Dodger cover boy these days, a fact you’ll see reflected in Monday’s edition of Dodger Cogs and Dogs. Either homered in his third straight game – homered twice today, in fact – and has an OPS this year of 1.161. But in a quick post summing up today’s 9-3 romp over Pittsburgh, a big tip of the hat must go to two others.

Hiroki Kuroda cruised for eight innings, allowing one run on a walk, four singles and a double over 98 pitches to lower his 2010 ERA to 2.08. Meanwhile, Blake DeWitt had his first career four-hit game, capped by a two-run double that lifted his season on-base percentage over .400 and his OPS to .767.

Kuroda seemed well-positioned to give the Dodgers their first complete game of the season, but Joe Torre brought in George Sherrill to close it out – leading to the day’s one sour moment. Sherrill allowed two runs on three hits and a walk and was bailed out by Ronald Belisario, who got the final out to end the game.

Either had an RBI single in addition to his two-run homer in the fifth and solo shot in the eighth. Matt Kemp singled, doubled, walked, scored three runs and made a diving catch in center. (He was also caught stealing for the sixth time this year on a close play). Ronnie Belliard made a great over-the-shoulder catch while playing third base. James Loney had a double and two singles to raise his home batting average to .500 (19 for 38), and reserves Xavier Paul and Jamey Carroll each had two hits.

The Dodgers are now 7-3 at home, 4-11 on the road.

Dodger uniforms display ’42’ tonight in honor of Jackie Robinson, not team’s ERA


Getty Images
The Dodgers will lead Major League Baseball’s celebration of Jackie Robinson — otherwise known as Chapter 1 — tonight at Dodger Stadium.

The Dodgers have not made any personnel moves to address their struggling bullpen, Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles said in his live chat today. But that doesn’t mean Dodger manager Joe Torre isn’t concerned.

“I think he is very worried,” Jackson said, “and you can read between the lines of what he says after every game. Joe isn’t the type to rip on his players or his team, but he has a way of expressing when he’s not happy about something that leaves little doubt as to how he feels. Keep in mind that (Ronald) Belisario and (Hong-Chih) Kuo will be back soon, possibly by sometime next week. Once that happens, everybody can kind of settle into their usual roles. Until then, they have to try to stay afloat with these guys.

Joe Torre later told reporters that the pitching staff can’t continue to not get the job done, but the Dodgers feel they’re better than what they’ve done so far or else they wouldn’t have left Spring Training with this group.

In this blogger’s opinion, however, the Dodgers need to replace at least one of the white flags in their bullpen. They are being given more rope than the younger, more promising alternatives were, and it isn’t deserved.

* * *

More Torre tidbits:

1) He hopes to avoid using Jonathan Broxton tonight, with Broxton having pitched in two consecutive games, and also hopes to continue resting Jeff Weaver.

2) I thought Jamey Carroll was starting for defensive reasons to support Hiroki Kuroda, whom the Dodgers need to really stay in the game for a long time tonight. But Torre said that Blake DeWitt was being given a day off to regroup for offensive reasons – saying that his swing is getting long and he is fouling balls off that he should put in play.

3) Torre expects Ronnie Belliard to get two starts this weekend, one of them at first base in place of James Loney against Barry Zito .

4) Andre Ethier’s ankle is still bothering him, but he is ready to go tonight.

* * *

Arizona pitcher Dan Haren is making his third start of the season tonight. After allowing three baserunners and a run in seven innings against San Diego on Opening Day, Haren allowed five earned runs on 11 baserunners in 6 2/3 innings against Pittsburgh.

* * *

The Dodgers are last in the National League in first-pitch strikes, notes Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A.

* * *

Dodgerama has an interesting chart showing how long it took each Dodger to reach the majors.

* * *

John Lindsey Watch: A homer and three doubles in Albuquerque’s 13-5 victory today. Lindsey is now on-basing .611 and slugging .969. Lindsey, Jay Gibbons and Prentice Redman, batting fourth, fifth and sixth, each had four hits. Gibbons had his second consecutive four-hit game.

Josh Lindblom struck out five but allowed four earned runs in five innings of his second start of the year, lowering his ERA to 7.88. Brent Leach pitched two shutout innings.

Blake DeWitt, Charlie Haeger officially win starting jobs


Mark Duncan/AP, Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images
Blake DeWitt and Charlie Haeger combined to appear in 37 games for the 2009 Dodgers.

The Dodgers just broke bottles of champagne on the broadsides of Blake DeWitt and Charlie Haeger, with Joe Torre officially announcing they have been named the team’s starting second baseman and No. 5 starting pitcher.

“Blake DeWitt is our second baseman,” Torre told reporters before tonight’s exhibition. “Over the long haul, DeWitt needs to play everyday. Belliard and Carroll can play against left-handers … so we have flexibility. If someone gets hot, we’ll find a spot for them.

“We initially pulled the April Fools’ Day prank on Blake. We told him he was going down, but we didn’t keep him there long. He was joyed, relieved. That’s as emotional as I’ve seen him in a long time.

“Haeger will be our fifth starter. He can pitch out of the bullpen before that. His versatility is a plus. We’ll give him a shot.”

The Dodgers sent Josh Towers to Albuquerque, but as of this writing didn’t confirm what the back of the bullpen will look like.

The question is, did Torre and the Dodgers wait until today to give DeWitt the job just so they could do the April Fools’ Day gag? Maybe the Jamey Carroll and Ronnie Belliard signings were done just to beef up the joke!

Torre: Dodgers likely to start season with 11 pitchers

Joe Torre told reporters today that the Dodgers would probably start the season with 11 pitchers and then go to 12. That would allow the team to keep Blake DeWitt as a starting second baseman and Nick Green as backup shortstop.

“I’ll let you know the fifth starter in L.A.,” Torre said. “It’s not because I’m unsure, but because we’ve got work to do with the other guys. We’re looking at 11 pitchers now to start. I think we’re still determining who the 11 will be. I think 12 will be the number for most of the year. We’re going to need a fifth starter four times in April.”

As I’ve written before, I don’t agree with the need to keep Green but I’m far from surprised by it, because the Dodgers essentially did the same thing last year in saving a spot for Juan Castro almost the entire season.

I also suspect that the decision to go with 11  pitchers is a response to the probability of both Ronald Belsiario and Hong-Chih Kuo missing Opening Day. The competition for the bullpen isn’t quite as tight.

At this point, I would bet heavily on these 10 pitchers being on the Opening Day roster: Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, Hiroki Kuroda, Vicente Padilla, Charlie Haeger, Jonathan Broxton, George Sherrill, Ramon Troncoso, Carlos Monasterios and Ramon Ortiz. The remaining competition, I believe, is for the 11th spot.

* * *

  • Hiroki Kuroda had a breezy seven innings in a minor-league game today, allowing one run (a solo homer) on two hits with no walks and seven strikeouts in 91 pitches. Russell Martin, looking more and more like the Opening Day catcher, caught all seven innings.
  • Josh Lindblom won the 2010 Jim and Dearie Mulvey Award for being the top rookie at Spring Training.
  • It’s a Dodger Divorce day, with Josh Fisher providing numerous updates on today’s spousal support hearing.
  • Mike Petriello has a fun wrap-up of his trip to Camelback Ranch at Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness.
  • Of the 19 pitchers in baseball last year who had RBIs after the seventh inning, according to Stat of the Day, four were Dodgers. Can you name them?
  • If you haven’t already, be sure to make your 2010 Dodgers prediction in the thread below.

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