Veteran Minor Leaguers Have Much in Common

<b>VERO BEACH, Florida</b>-- The lockers assigned in the Dodger clubhouse are by uniform number order so Mike Edwards, who wears No. 67, and Tony Schrager, who wears No. 68, are situated side-by-side. The two, though, share a great deal more in common than adjoining dressing space.

Both are long-time minor leaguers who have been in more than one organization during their tenures. Both bring versatility in the field and a certain amount of pop at the plate to the game. And both joined the Dodgers this year for essentially the same reason.

Edwards, a 28-year-old from Mechanicsburg, Pa., was drafted by the Indians in 1995 and has played for the Reds and A's since then. The 6-1, 170-pound Schrager, a 27-year-old from Omaha, Neb. who played at Stanford, was a pick of the Cubs in 1998 and has been in the Red Sox organization for two seasons prior to this year. Mike can play first, third or the corner outfield spots; Tony says he's comfortable at short, second or third or can play first "if they want me to."

Mike has demonstrated his power by hitting home runs in the double figures five times while averaging close to .300 in his 10 minor league seasons. Last year he went .287-13-81 for Sacramento. Oakland's Pacific Coast League entry. Tony has had four years of hitting balls beyond the fences in his seven pro years, going .266-15-49 for Pawtucket in the International League although he insists, " I just try to hit to all fields. The home runs will come occasionally although that's not my game."

One difference is that Edwards has at least a brief fling at the big leagues, collecting one hit in four tries for the A's in 2003. Schrager has yet to get in any time up in The Show.

Naturally, both are now trying to demonstrate to the Dodgers that each is worthy of a chance and their answers as to "Why L.A.?", are essentially identical. Mike had offers from three other teams when he became a free agent after last season and took the Dodgers because," I like the way Paul DePodesta is straight with you. He's always honest even when he says something that you don't necessarily want to hear He told me exactly whant my chances are and what they expect of me."

The sentiment is echoed by Tony. "They told me what they liked about me and what they wanted to get from me. They were very up-front and I appreciated that."

Both have looked good for the most part though they're among the outsiders in the bids to make the team out of spring training. In the infield, there are more expectations for Antonio Perez and Nori Nakamura brings his considerable reputation from Japan. Young outfielders like Chin-Feng Chen, Jason Repko and Cody Ross are all able and bidding.

The Dodgers, though, want some experienced hands to go to Las Vegas to stay prepared to be spare parts that might well be needed some time during the season. That's something the pair would be willing to do if required.

Oh, by the way, both have teammates from 2004 who are here in the same capacity for catcher Mike Rose played with Sacramento and outfielder Henri Stanley was with Schrager at Pawtucket until traded to the Dodgers.

So there's commonality there but competition, too, which is what the Dodgers like. They can't all make it, of course. Spring training might be for fine-tuning the game for the established stars. For these guys, it's much more about surviving than any contrived "reality" TV show will ever be.