Lopes Joins Nationals Coaching Staff

Former Dodger All-Star second baseman and major league manager Davey Lopes has joined the Washington Nationals as their first-base coach. Lopes was hired Thursday by manager Frank Robinson.

Lopes, a member of the longest running infield in major league history (+Garvey, Russell and Cey) helped the Los Angeles Dodgers win the 1981 World Series and he led the National League in steals twice.

During his Dodger career he swiped 418 bases and was caught only 85 times, a .831 success ratio that still tops the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Franchise.

He had back-to-back seasons in 1978 and 1979 when he recorded 45-4 and 44-4 stolen base marks, a sparkling .925 average.

He will the right man at the right time in the right place since the Nationals had an NL-low 45 steals last season and were caught stealing a league-high 45 times.

Lopes had a 10-year career in Los Angeles, scoring 759 runs, 1,204 hits and collecting 99 home runs, including a team-record 28 in 1979.

Whether thou Goest, Joseph-- The Dodgers are patting themselves on the back and wringing their hands at the same time, an action that just might make the Journal of Chiropractics.

Wunderkinder Joel Guzman lit up the Dominican Winter League season, becoming the youngest player to ever lead the league in runs batted in (33). He hit .280 and slugged six home runs for the Estrella club.

But now that he seems poised to make it to The Show, the 6-foot-6, 225-pound infielder, who has played shortstop most of his minor league career, seemingly has no position, although he played mostly first and third during the off-season.

But with red-hot prospects Andy LaRoche at third and James Loney at first, the Dodgers remain non-committal, not only as to where the 21-year-old Guzman will wind up, but even what position he will play in 2006, which he will start at Triple-A Las Vegas.

"We're coming to a point where we'll have to make a decision, but the skills he refines while playing shortstop will serve him regardless of where he ends up," an official said. "We have a new coaching staff and we'd like their input."

Gosh, I hope some of them can make a decision. It reminds one of the Paul Konerko story. The kids a great catcher, no, wait, we'll play him here at third, or maybe at first base, but wait, we have Karros there.

The confused youngster didn't hit and we traded him to Cincinnati for an overpriced stopper and when the Reds didn't recognize his talents (either), they shipped him to the White Sox and in the best tradition of Hollywood, a Star was Born.

The Dodgers have talked about moving Guzman to the outfield, but nothing has come of that experiment as of yet.

So the big kid, that was signed in 2001 to a $2.25 million bonus, largest in club history, is behind Rafael Furcal and Cesar Izturis on the depth chart with mighty-mite Chin-lung Hu breathing down his neck.

McCourt to Sell Boston Land-- Dodger owner Frank McCourt intends to repay a $145-million loan from Fox Entertainment Group by selling a 24-acre harbor-side parcel in Boston that he used as collateral upon buying the team two years ago, a source close to the deal said.

Terms of the deal, to be completed in a few days, won't be released. But the source said McCourt will receive more than $145 million in the transaction. The Dodgers also are expected to continue their long-term broadcast rights deal with Fox, a subsidiary of media giant News Corp.

The land sale would fulfill McCourt's financial obligations to Fox, but he still owes $250 million in long-term debt that is secured by the 300 acres of land at Chavez Ravine. He must pay about $1.6 million a month on that 25-year obligation (and you think your house mortgage keeps you up at night).

McCourt has said that the club's finances are stronger than two years ago because of an improved TV rights deal, higher parking lot revenue and an increase in revenue generated from upscale seating sections at Dodger Stadium.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Former Dodger minor league manager Dann Billaradello will be the St. Louis minor league catching coordinator in 2006. …2B Joe Thurston, who was traded to the Yankees in midseason for a player to be named later (that was apparently concluded for a cash settlement instead), was released by NY and signed a minor league contract with the Phillies, as did another Dodger minor league outfielder, Peter Bergeron.