Hudson En Route for Physical
Orlando Hudson was expected to arrive at Camelback Ranch-Glendale Saturday morning for his physical exam. If his healing left wrist passes, he will become the Dodgers’ new second baseman, displacing Blake DeWitt, after agreeing to a one-year deal for $3.38 million with incentives that could take it to $8 million. Manager Joe Torre said he spoke with DeWitt and told him his role has not been decided, but that he should work out at several positions, including shortstop. It’s conceivable Hudson’s dislocated wrist wouldn’t be 100 percent by Opening Day and DeWitt could still make the club. As for a utility role, Torre implied that a healthy Tony Abreu would be more likely because he can play shortstop, presumably with DeWitt playing every day at Triple-A. But Abreu needs to show he’s shaken two years of injuries.
Torre indicated a healthy switch-hitting Hudson would be a good fit to bat second behind Rafael Furcal and that he might move Casey Blake to left field (and DeWitt to third), but that was more a double-switch option than for every-day positioning. Torre emphasized he still is counting on unsigned free agent Manny Ramirez to start in left field. — Ken Gurnick
Dodgers Sign Hudson
The Dodgers and free-agent second baseman Orlando Hudson have agreed on a one-year contract with a base of $3.4 million and incentives that could take the total to $8 million, baseball sources confirmed Friday. Hudson will take over for the retired Jeff Kent, displacing Blake DeWitt, who came into Spring Training as the starting second baseman. Terms were not available. The deal apparently came together when it was reported that the Dodgers were also talking with free agent infielder Orlando Cabrera. — 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
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
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
Not exactly. But manager Joe Torre said one of the “big parts” of moving into an Arizona training facility for the Dodgers is having a year-round base where injured players can rehabilitate, instead of remaining with the Major League club and diverting the medical staff’s attention away from the active roster. Torre said it worked well for the Yankees with their year-round complex in Tampa, Fla. The Dodgers will have a full-time medical coordinator and therapist on site year-round at Camelback Ranch-Glendale.
Torre said the tentative plan is to have Jason Schmidt pitch in an intrasquad game Jan. 23. Torre said after watching Schmidt throw two bullpen sessions that he “appears 100 percent healthy.” Schmidt never pitched in a Spring game last year.
The club’s exhibition schedule has three days off, but Torre already decided that’s too many and is trying to add a game March 2.
Torre said he wants to limit Russell Martin to 140 games behind the plate this year, which won’t be much of a breather from last year, when he appeared in 149 games as catcher (138 starts). — Ken Gurnick