Jackson Down, LaRoche Up To Jacksonville

A much-discussed player move became a reality with the announcement that the Dodgers have shifted the option on righthander Edwin Jackson from Las Vegas to Jacksonville. It was the feature of several player moves made with more expected to come as the first halves move to conclusion in the minor leagues.

Jackson, considered by many as the prime pitching prospect in the Dodger organization, has fared badly thus far at Vegas with a 3-7 record and a bloated 8.62 ERA. His demotion, said Dodger General Manager Paul DePodesta came because "Sometimes you have to move a player around to straighten him out. His stuff hasn't gone anywhere."

To replace Jackson at Las Vegas, lefthander Eric Stults (4-3, 3.30) was moved up from the Suns. With Jacksonville currently in first place in the South Division of the Southern League and Vegas in the throes of a 10-game losing streak that has dropped them into the basement of the South Divison of the Pacific Coast League, Jacksonville oificials speculate that more players might be moving up, mentioning outfielders Tydus Meadows and Jon Weber and righthanders Joel Hanrahan and Eric Hull as possibilities.

Little time was wasted in making the long anticipated promotion of Andy LaRoche from Vero Beach to Jacksonville. The day after Vero clinched the first-half division title, the third baseman, who was batting .333 with 21 home runs and 51 runs batted in, was moved up the coast and was in the Suns' starting lineup with Joel Guzman serving as a designated hitter.

Vero Beach has long speculated that it will also lose third baseman Andy LaRoche and possibly righthander Justin Orenduff via promotion about this time. Both will be participating in the league's all-star game in Clearwater Saturday along with catcher Edwin Bellorin, shortstop Chin-lung Hu, second baseman Tony Abreau and lefthander Chuck Tiffany.

Tiffany was a recent addition to the all-star list.

Meanwhile, in the lower minors, outfielder Sam Steidl and righthander Landestoy Troncoso have been sent from Columbus to Ogden. Steidl was hitting .244 while Troncosco was 2-3, 6.69.

Two just-signed draftees also have reported to Ogden, lefthander Brent Leach (sixth round) and righthander David Horlacher (eighth round). Leach posted a 1.74 ERA and held opposing batters to a .180 average while racking up seven saves for Delta State. Horlacher finished 6-2, 3.80 at Brigham Young University. A Mormon, he completed a two-year mission to Chile before returning to school.

He's a native of Utah so will, in effect, be pitching at home for Ogden which opens its season June 21