Dodger Spring Training Notes - March 18, 2011

The Dodgers travel to Scottsdale to take on the Giants for the fourth and final time this spring. Following yesterday's game, infielder/outfielder Jerry Sands and infielder Justin Sellers were reassigned to minor league camp. Sands, the Dodgers' 2010 Minor League Player of the Year, batted .364 with two home runs, five RBI and a .773 slugging percentage in 16 games with the big league club.

      PITCHING IN: Tomorrow, Dodger players and coaches are pitching in to raise money for the American Red Cross Japan Tsunami fund by signing autographs in exchange for donations from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. prior to the Dodgers' game against the Brewers at Camelback Ranch – Glendale. Chad Billingsley, Casey Blake, Jonathan Broxton, Jamey Carroll, Andre Ethier, Rafael Furcal, Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw, Ted Lilly, James Loney, Vicente Padilla, Ramon Troncoso, Juan Uribe and Maury Wills are expected to sign along with Japanese minor leaguers Kazuki Nishijima, Kazuya Takano and Robert Boothe will sign autographs in the ballpark's third base side aisles at some point during the donation period and Hall of Fame Manager Tommy Lasorda will sign autographs for fans at his usual table outside of the center field gate.

Dodger right-hander Hiroki Kuroda will start the game that day, but plans to come by to sign autographs and take donations on the center field concourse once he is removed from the game. Fans that give $20 will receive a voucher good for one baseline reserve seat for any remaining Dodgers Spring Training game at Camelback Ranch, with a maximum of four vouchers per guest, as well as two tickets to one of two upcoming Spring Training exhibition games at Dodger Stadium. This past Tuesday, the Dodgers hosted a drive-through relief event at Dodger Stadium that raised funds for Japan.  

BOMBS AWAY: The Dodgers slugged three home runs yesterday, including back-to-back jacks by Hector Gimenez and Gabe Kapler in the eighth inning as Los Angeles scored a 6-4 comeback win over the Diamondbacks. Matt Kemp put the Dodgers on the board with a two-run blast in the fourth inning off Aaron Heilman for his team-leading third homer of the spring. Kemp is batting .316 on the spring and leads the Dodgers in hits (12), home runs, RBI (9) and total bases (24).   

LITTLE BIG LEAGUE: The minor league schedule kicks off today with four games against the Rangers as a trio of big leaguers will join the future Dodgers with Ted Lilly pitching in a game on the back fields at Camelback Ranch and Jay Gibbons and Jamey Carroll playing in Surprise. Also back at Camelback Ranch, Vicente Padilla will throw off a mound for the first time since having forearm surgery on February 24.   

THE RUB: The Dodgers' reigning Minor League Pitcher of the Year Rubby De La Rosa will make his second start of the spring after striking out two and surrendering just one hit over 2.0 scoreless innings on Sunday against the Cubs in Las Vegas. The 22-year-old has limited opposing hitters to a .182 batting average without issuing a walk and struck out five in 6.0 Spring Training innings. RHP Ramon Troncoso, RHP Blake Hawksworth, RHP Kenley Jansen and LHP Ron Mahay will follow De La Rosa to the mound this afternoon. The Giants will counter with RHP Jeff Suppan.   

LEADERBOARD: Dodger outfielder Marcus Thames is tied for third in the Cactus League with five doubles while fellow newcomer Tony Gwynn Jr. is tied for second with six steals. Gwynn is hitting .344 (11-for-32) and is second on the club in hits, trailing just Matt Kemp, who has 12. Trent Oeltjen, who became the fourth Australian-born player to suit up for the Dodgers last season, leads all Dodger hitters with a .438 average (min. 15 at-bats).   

MAKING HIS BID: Xavier Paul stroked a double in his only at-bat yesterday and has caught fire of late, batting .545 (6-for-11) with a double, triple and one RBI over his last five games dating back to March 12. The 26-year-old is batting .290 (9-for-31) with a home run and three RBI in 17 Spring Training games.   

BLUE CHIPS: A few Dodgers players and staff have a stake in this year's NCAA tournament as Tony Gwynn Jr. (San Diego State), Strength and Conditioning Coach Brendon Huttmann (Kansas) and right-hander Josh Lindblom (Purdue) have their alma maters in the dance. Meanwhile, Dodgertalk host Josh Suchon has already ruined one of his brackets by picking his SDSU Aztecs to win it all, while his co-host Joe Block saw his Michigan State Spartans' hopes dashed last night by the hometown UCLA Bruins.   

BOYS IN BLUE: The Third Annual UMPS CARE Charities online auction is underway at UmpsCare.com, featuring priceless memorabilia and one-of-a kind experiences for teams throughout baseball.  Fans can bid on a Dodger batting practice experience among the other great packages until March 20.   

TOMORROW'S PITCHERS: Hiroki Kuroda will face Milwaukee's Randy Wolf tomorrow at Camelback. Travis Schlichting, Scott Elbert and Lance Cormier are scheduled for follow him. 

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