February 2009

Torre’s Injury Update

Here’s a bulletin — pitcher Yhency Brazoban has a sore shoulder and can’t throw. Brazoban hasn’t been healthy since 2005 because of elbow and shoulder surgeries. Manager Joe Torre also said catcher Russell Martin continues to improve from a sore foot; Cory Wade has responded to a cortisone injection in his shouder and might resume throwing Sunday; Travis Schlichting’s stiff back has improved and he will begin tossing. — Ken Gurnick

Dodgers Talking to Cabrera

The Dodgers, apparently uncertain they can work a deal for free-agent second baseman Orlando Hudson, have opened talks with free-agent infielder Orlando Cabrera. The 34-year-old Cabrera, a two-time Gold Glove shortstop, told the club he would be willing to move to second base, where Blake DeWitt entered Spring Training as the heir apparent to retired second baseman Jeff Kent. Shortstop is locked up with the re-signing of Rafael Furcal to a three-year, $30 million deal. Cabrera earned $10 million last year playing for the Chicago White Sox and, like Hudson, was seeking riches in the free-agent market that collapsed along with the global economy. — Ken Gurnick

Torre Likes Clubhouse Attitude

The Dodgers gutted the roster with the departure of 15 free agents over the winter. Manager Joe Torre didn’t make a linkage, but he likes this year’s clubhouse better than last year’s.

“Overall, there seems to be a lighter mood in the clubhouse,” he said. “It could be my imagination. It just seems everybody is having a little more fun.”

Torre joined the fun during the speech he made before the first full-squad workout with a joke about clubhouse confidentiality that made reference to his best-selling book, “The Yankee Years.” Among the criticisms that Torre has fended off since the release of the book was that it would negatively impact his relationship with his current club.

Among those who also addressed that first meeting was club vice chairman and president Jamie McCourt.

Torre also conceded Thursday that he overworked reliever Cory Wade during a stretch last August that left the right-hander on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation. Wade is already sidelined again with irritation in the same location. — Ken Gurnick

Broxton’s Tight Schedule

Jonathan Broxton, penciled in as the replacement for closer Takashi Saito, will probably have three opportunities to face hitters before he leaves Camelback Ranch-Glendale March 1 for World Baseball Classic competition, pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said. Broxton is tentatively set to pitch in Monday’s intrasquad game. Honeycutt said Team USA pitching coach Marcel Lachemann plans for no reliever to pitch on back-to-back days. — Ken Gurnick

Furcal to Rest, Schmidt to Pitch

Dodgers manager Joe Torre said he plans to give Rafael Furcal a day off a week early in the season to avoid overworking the shortstop, who is coming off back surgery.

Torre also said Jason Schmidt is tentatively scheduled to pitch Monday in an intrasquad game and next Friday in a “B” game against the Chicago White Sox. That would put Schmidt way ahead of last year, when he suffered a quick setback in the Spring and never faced batters coming off his first shoulder surgery, then required a second procedure in September. — Ken Gurnick

 

Furcal Reports

Shortstop and leadoff hitter Rafael Furcal reported to Camelback Ranch-Glendale for Thursday’s first full-squad workout, saying he’s healthy and hoping the Dodgers sign Manny Ramirez to drive him in. Furcal said he hasn’t spoken to Ramirez since the season ended. He said playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic reassured him that his surgically repaired back is fully healed. Despite missing most of last season with a bulging disk, the free agent received a three-year, $30 million contract to stay with the Dodgers. — Ken Gurnick

Torre on Retirement

Joe Torre, entering the second year of a three-year contract, said he plans to retire as a manager after next season.

“I don’t envision going beyond this contract managing,” said the 68-year-old Torre.

He said he hoped to remain in the game in some capacity.

“I don’t think I’ll disconnect from baseball,” he said. “I hope somebody will deem me useful.”

— Ken Gurnick

Torre on A-Rod

Dodgers manager Joe Torre said he caught news reports of Alex Rodriguez’s Tuesday press conference, but was on the practice field as it took place and hasn’t seen a complete replay. He deflected a question about the controversy impacting his former Yankees team.

“That’s run-of-the-mill stuff,” he said. “I don’t want to make light of it, it’s very serious, but as far as distractions go there, they have it on a regular basis.”

As for Rodriguez’s situation, Torre remained supportive.

“I just know how important his baseball is ot him and I hope he handles it allright,” he said. “When you see how many players and staff were there, that’s what the Yankees are all about, they’ll all help.” — Ken Gurnick

Wade’s Shoulder Sore

Dodgers reliever Cory Wade reported a sore shoulder and had a cortisone injection Wednesday that will sideline him several days, but manager Joe Torre said the condition wasn’t serious enough to warrant an MRI.

“We caught it early,” said Torre. “It’s in the same place as last year when he went on the DL. He’s down for a few days.”

Wade was a surprise last year, not even making the Opening Day roster, but became an unsung rookie workhorse that led the bullpen with 71 1/3 innings pitched. But he also missed 18 games in August with shoulder inflammation. — Ken Gurnick

Dodgers Talking to Hudson

The collapse of the free-agent market has dropped second baseman Orlando Hudson’s contract demands to a level that interests the Dodgers, and general manager Ned Colletti confirmed Wednesday that talks are ongoing.

Colletti said he has payroll “flexibility” unrelated to efforts to sign Manny Ramirez which Colletti said continue, He added that interest in Hudson does not mean he lacks confidence in Blake DeWitt, who came into Spring Training as the incumbent second baseman after the retirement of Jeff Kent.

“I’m big on inventory,” Colletti said.

Hudson is coming off a season shortened by a broken wrist. — Ken Gurnick