The Dodger Roster Rounding the Far Turn

<b>Vero Beach, Florida</b>--With the Florida portion of the spring season at about the half-way mark, here is the way the 25-man roster projects:

First Base--Hee-Seop Choi has performed exceptionally well in the field and while he is not lighting the night with his hitting, he is drawing walks in sufficient quantities to delight the front office.

Second Base--Obviously, Jeff Kent is the man, although his bat is still in suspended animation.

Shortstop--Cesar Izturis didn't lose his golden glove over the off-season and is penciled in to leadoff. While he may not come up with 193 hits again, this kid is the real thing.

Third Base--Jose Valentin will make no one forget Adrian Beltre, but he has a good glove at third and real pop in his bat. Look for an improvement over the .217 he posted last year.

Right Field--JD Drew has demonstrated his exceptional power and will be probably hit in the third slot. When healthy, this guy is quite a player.

Center Field--Milton Bradley says he is a changed man and has acted the part. It will take some time for the umpires to keep from watching for him to explode but when they do, he should blossom.

Left Field--Jayson Werth suffered a slight break in his left wrist after being hit by a pitch. He has yet to throw or swing a bat. When he is finally healed, expect good things from him. Until then, spring rookie sensation Jason Repko has opened eyes with his outfield play and with his bat. Ricky Ledee will be the backup but he also has pretty good talent.

Catcher--David Ross seems to have forgotten how to hit and Paul Bako has never hit, so a closer look may be given to rookie Dioner Navarro. If the 21-year-old starts to hit the ball consistently, there may be a new face in the lineup.

Starting PitchersDerek Lowe and Jeff Weaver will be 1-2 in the rotation without question. Kaz Ishii has pitched well and should be in the top five. Odalis Perez has yet to throw a pitch in action and Brad Penny is in the same hospital boat. Both may not be ready by the opening gun. But not to worry -- Scott Erickson has worked nine scoreless innings over three starts and Edwin Jackson looks like the sensation we all thought he would be. Wilson Alvarez is standing by, just in case.

Bullpen--While Eric Gagne has not seen action due to a slightly sprained knee, he will be ready to close the opening game if needed. Yhency Brazoban and Duaner Sanchez are throwing lazer beams. Giovanni Carrara has worked efficiently and the only battle seems to be in the left-handed department among Elmer Dessens, Mike Venafro, Frank Brooks and Kelly Wunch, all tough on lefties.

That is the look at the far turn but injuries to some of the above may last past the exhibition series and that will change the look of things. Stay tuned.

Dodgers thump Mets--Before a sellout crowd in the first home night game of the season, the Dodgers scored a spring hit 16 runs on 19 hits that lined, blasted, blooped, skipped and slithered past the New York defense.

Second baseman Antonio Perez chipped in three hits and Oscar Robles and Norihiro Nakamura had a pair while Outfielders Mike Edwards knocked in three runs, outfielder JD Drew ands catcher Dioner Navarro and Mike Rose had two each.

Los Angeles had averaged 3,139 per game over the first four contests but standing room only was the order of the night on this chilly evening.

Jeff Weaver started and worked four innings, allowing three hits and a single run. Kelly Wunch took over in the fifth with a nine-run lead and promptly gave back three runs, hurt by less-than-stellar outfield play. Buddy Carlyle followed with two strong innings, followed by Giovanni Carrara's workmanlike eighth and Yhency Brazoban pitched the ninth that ended with the final out of the game coming on a 9-4-2 play.

Los Angeles jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first on a two-run triple by third baseman Jose Valentin and a single by left fielder Jason Grabowski, who was making his first start.

The home team added two more in the second on JD Drew's wind-aided, two-run homer that just cleared the right field fence.

The margin grew to 7-1 in the third on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Cesar Izturis and Antonio Perez's third single in three innings.

Three more galloped over the plate in the fourth on a two-run double by rookie catcher Dioner Navarro and a pinch-single by Norihiro Nakamura to run the score to 10-1 after four.

Los Angeles scored four in the seventh on an rbi single by outfielder Tydus Meadows and a three-run homer by Mike Edwards.

Catcher Mike Rose singles in two in the eighth and Henri Stanley knocked in the 16th run of game when the Mets' pitcher failed to cover first on a ground ball to the first baseman.