Gagne's Health May Be Greatly Exaggerated

As Mark Twain said about his rumored demise, "Reports of my death have been highly exaggerated." So too may the condition of ace closer Eric Gagne's ability to open the season at 100%. There were indications recently that Gagne has decided not to play for his native Canada in the inaugural World Baseball Classic.

Gagne, the best closer in Dodger history and before his injury considered the top closer in the majors, is coming off season-ending surgery last June 24 to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

Although Gagne is expected to be fully recovered by the start of spring training, Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti implied during a recent media conference call that club officials would discourage Gagne from participating in the WBC because of the injury.

Colletti declined add anything to the previous report. "You will have to check with Gagne," he said. "I can't get in the middle of that," he told the Los Angeles Daily News.

Gagne appeared eager to play for the Canadian team when the initial WBC plan was discussed and his name appeared last month on a list released by Major League Baseball of players willing to participate in the games, set for March 3-20.

Gagne will receive $10.1 million this season -- the final season of his contract -- and the Dodgers may just be reluctant to turn him loose since he hasn't pitched for nearly a year.

Technical Problems kept the Dugout web out of action yesterday and for that we apologize. It was the first time in nearly two years that has happened. The culprit was discovered, convicted and shot at sunrise so hopefully it won't happen again.

Deebs Reassigned-- Jon Debus, the club's major-league bullpen coach last season, will be with the Dodgers again this year as a roving catching instructor.

Debus, player and coach for the club for 18 years, was the bullpen coach last year with the Dodgers. His time in The Show was cut short when Jim Tracy resigned and took much of his coaching staff with him to Pittsburgh.

Hanrahan Designated-- In 2003 the youngster as 10-3, 2.43 for Jacksonville and apparently on the fast track. But for some unexplained reason, his velocity has dropped and his stock has dropped at the same rate.

He was sent to Vero Beach last season after spending 2004 with Las Vegas in AAA. A series of MRIs on his right shoulder failed to indicate a reason he has lost some pop on his fastball.

He was designated for assignment to clear a 40-man roster spot for one of the two relievers the club acquired from the Devil Rays recently and if not claimed, could re-sign with the Dodgers.

"He just didn't have that same looseness or fluidity in his motion that he had in the past," Dodgers scouting director Logan White said. "It got better last year. He might have gotten back up to 92 (mph), but it looked forced, like more effort was going into it."

It is another demonstration of just how fragile a young pitcher's arm really is and how it is do difficult to predict with any degree of accuracy if he will eventually be able to transfer his talents to the major league level.