March 2010

Mientkiewicz Leaves Camp

Non-roster veteran Doug Mientkiewicz, his chances to make the Opening Day roster vanishing, has left the Dodgers Spring Training camp, but the club has yet to make an official roster move.

 

The 35-year-old Mientkiewicz is a 10-year veteran who signed last year after Spring Training started, but had a successful longshot bid to make the club foiled when he blew out his throwing shoulder with a head-first dive into second base two weeks into the season. He played only 20 games last year, going 6-for-18 (.333).

 

A former Gold Glove winner, Mientkiewicz’s chances of making the club this year as the primary left-handed pinch-hitter took a serious blow with the late signing of Garret Anderson, who can still play the outfield. Mientkiewicz hasn’t lost the Gold Glove, but his ability to throw is severely limited. — Ken Gurnick

Sherrill Struggles, Padilla Loses

Left-handed reliever George Sherrill, pitching on consecutive days for the first time this spring, walked two and gave up a hit in two-thirds of an inning Friday, raising his ERA to 5.06. Sherrill has issued six walks to go with nine hits allowed in 5 1/3 innings.

“I guess when it happens during the season,” manager Joe Torre said, asked when he would start to worry about Sherrill. “I’ve gone this far, I’m not about to start panicking now.”

Torre repeated that the staff was warned about Sherrill’s notoriously poor Spring Training record.

Also Friday, Vicente Padilla made his first start for the Dodgers since being named Opening Day pitcher. He allowed one run for four innings, then hit the wall and was charged with four more runs before being lifted with one out in the fifth at a pitch count of 97, suffering the loss. His spring ERA is 6.28. — Ken Gurnick

Kuo Shut Down

Dodgers reliever Hong-Chih Kuo has been shut down again with more elbow problems, virtually assuring he will not start the season on the active roster. — Ken Gurnick

Belliard Contract Guaranteed

Manager Joe Torre said infielder Ronnie Belliard had satisfied the 209-pound weight-clause requirement in his contract, guaranteeing the $825,000 base portion of his salary. Belliard would have had the base guaranteed anyway simply by making the Opening Day roster — which was expected — regardless of his weight.

Belliard is the presumed backup to Casey Blake at third base and James Loney at first base, as well as the primary right-handed pinch-hitter and insurance at second base. — Ken Gurnick

Kuo Running Out of Time for Opening Day

Left-handed reliever Hong-Chih Kuo was able to play catch on flat ground Thursday for a second consecutive day without further discomfort in his brittle elbow. Nonetheless, Kuo said he did not know when he would be able to throw off a mound, leaving him very unlikely to be ready to start the regular season. Kuo has appeared in only two games this spring. — Ken Gurnick

Padilla to Start Opening Day

Vicente Padilla, released last summer by Texas, will be named the Dodgers Opening Day starter Thursday by manager Joe Torre, baseball sources told MLB.com. The club could not confirm Padilla’s selection.

 

Padilla will start April 5 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh and be followed in the rotation by Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda and an as-yet-unnamed fifth starter. Factoring in off days, Kershaw is lined up to start the home opener at Dodger Stadium April 13 against Arizona. — Ken Gurnick

Dodgers Trade Rumors

Rumors that the Dodgers are trying to trade young shortstop Chin-lung Hu have are untrue, according to baseball sources. The Dodgers feel they need Hu for insurance if starting shortstop Rafael Furcal has an extended absence.

However, there are indications that the Dodgers would move left-handed starting pitcher Eric Stults or outfielder Jason Repko. Stults, currently competing for the fifth starter job, is out of options. Repko has little chance of reaching the Major Leagues with the Dodgers, who have added reserve outfielders Reed Johnson and Garret Anderson. The Dodgers also believe that Xavier Paul has passed Repko on the outfield depth chart. — Ken Gurnick

Upbeat Reports on Martin, Kuo, Ausmus

The Dodgers received upbeat medical reports on catchers Russell Martin and Brad Ausmus and reliever Hong-Chih Kuo.

Martin, healing faster than expected from a pulled groin, will start in a Minor League game Thursday and predicts he’ll be in the Opening Day lineup.

Kuo, shut down for a few days with recurring elbow soreness, played catch on flat ground, although it remains uncertain whether he will be ready for Opening Day. He’s pitched in only two games this spring.

Ausmust, out with a bad lower back, resumed baseball activities and said he should be in a game in the next few days. — Ken Gurnick

Knoedler Gets a Chance

Injuries to catchers Russell Martin and Brad Ausmus created a rare opportunity for non-roster backstop Justin Knoedler, who caught all nine innings of the Dodgers’ 4-2 split-squad loss to the Angels Monday. It not only was the first time the 29-year-old Knoedler caught all nine innings of a spring game, but it was only his second start in seven Major League training camps. This is his 10th professional season and he’s had Major League call-ups by the Giants in three different seasons.

“By the sixth or seventh inning, I was hoping they wouldn’t take me out,” he said. “That was fun.” — Ken Gurnick

 

Ethier’s Number to be Retired

Andre Ethier  will have his jersey retired by his alma mater, Saint Mary’s High School, Wednesday in Phoenix.  Either wore no. 14.  Dodgers Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda will speak about Ethier and Dodger broadcaster Rick Monday will emcee the event. — Ken Gurnick