A non-problem and a budding one

As the Dodgers head into their 13th spring exhibition game today at home against the Montreal Expos (a 3-2 loss), what once was a glaring problem hitting, has dissipated at least until now.

Of those Dodgers still in the major league camp 13 players are hitting at least .273. Albeit, some have limited at bats, a dozen or less. Leading the team in batting is Luis Garcia, a non-roster invitee whose claim to fame is knocking the U.S.A. baseball team out of the Olympic Trials. He's hitting .556.

There are two players batting .500, Juan Encarnacion and C.F. Chen. One of the two hitting stars this spring is 19 year old James Loney batting .471. Shawn Green leads last year's regulars with a .375 average.

Then comes the other batting star Jason Romano hitting .360 with the most RBI (7) and second most home runs (3). Romano has come out of nowhere, to be a solid hitter with new found power. In his limited major league career he's played in 84 games and has had 127 at bats with 26 hits and no home runs. His batting average is just .205 and his OBP a paltry .250.

After Jason comes Paul Lo Duca at .357, Cesar Izturis .353 thanks to two three hit games. Adrian Beltré and Koyie Hill are hitting .333, Dave Roberts .313, Jose Hernandez .292 and Jolbert Cabrera .273. The one area hitting concern worrying some is the lack of power. Green has no home runs, nor has Beltré, Hernandez and Ventura.

The starting pitching on the other hand has been well below par, at least among the projected starters holdovers and veteran invitees. Kaz Ishii's ERA is 21.21. Rick White an invitee is at 19.39. Then comes Steve Colyer at 13.50, Edwin Jackson at 9.53, Hideo Nomo 8.31 and Jeff Weaver 7.00.

The best pitcher thus far has been Odalis Perez who hasn't given up a run in his two starts. Another invitee Jose Lima has had an excellent spring with a 1.13 ERA.

Relievers with outstanding records include Yhency Brazoban, Darren Dreifort, Eric Gagne, Masao Kida, Guillermo Mota and Paul Shuey with 0.00 ERAs. Newcomers Jason Frasor's ERA is 2.08 and Duaner Sanchez's at 2.25.

And so, if there is an area of real concerns right now, it with the starting pitchers.