Dodgers to be Well Represented at WBC

Eric Gagne, as suspected, said he will not pitch in the World Baseball Classic, saying he doesn't want to push his surgically repaired right elbow until he is sure it is game-ready. But RHP Yhency Brazoban and LHP Odalis Perez (Dominican Republic), RHP Jae Seo and 1B Hee-Seop Choi (South Korea), LHP Hong-Chih Kuo (Taiwan), INF Oscar Robles (Mexico) and OFs Ricky Ledee and Jose Cruz Jr. (Puerto Rico) all are hoping to play in the event. Health permitting, SS Rafael Furcal will also play.

While all very patriotic, it will put a crimp in decision-making during spring training. For example, Oscar Robles will be competing against Ramon Martinez for the utility infielder slot but if Robles is not around, the new staff won't be able to make a judgment on him.

Jae Seo, penciled in for the fifth spot on the starting rotation, is pretty much a lock after lighting up the National League the second half of 2005. Brazoban and Perez are also expected to be on the staff.

Perez will join the Dominican team's first practice on March 2 in Kissimmee, Florida. His decision to play in the WBC was a surprise to many.

With Jayson Werth probably disabled through March, Cruz is expected to start in left field. Choi and Ledee are also expected to be with the team when it leaves for Los Angeles late in March.

But I'll wager a number of Dodger coaches would like to get a close look at all of them before that happens.

Speaking of Werth-- Werth's left wrist, which was broken by an errant pitch in the first game of last spring's Grapefruit League opener, was had two torn ligaments surgically repaired in November. Trainer Stan Johnston said the injury would take about five months to heal. He had screws removed and the cast taken off three weeks ago, and said he made a mistake last season in playing before he was completely healed. He struggled to record a .234 average, with seven homers and 43 RBI.

Say Ahhh--Pitchers and catchers had their annual physicals on Wednesday, and all were given a clean bill of health. Pitchers Brazoban and Franquelis Osoria were absent because of the traditional 'visa problems' but are expected soon. 1B/3B/PH Olmedo Saenz might not arrive with the rest of the position players on Monday because his mother died in Panama.

Screnar leaves:-- Pat Screnar, the Dodgers' physical therapist for the past 25 seasons, left the organization last week, citing philosophical differences. "The organization was going in a different direction," Screnar said. "That's their prerogative, and I made the decision to leave." Team spokesperson Camille Johnston said "The organization was hoping he would stay." Also leaving are Todd Clausen and Dan Feinstein. Clausen has been the Dodgers' strength and conditioning coach. He left the club to become the personal trainer of Dodgers closer Eric Gagne. Feinstein, hired as coordinator of baseball operations by former general manager Paul DePodesta after the 2004 season, has taken a job with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Clubhouse manager David Dickinson also has left the organization.

Gagne healthy-- Eric Gagne says he's throwing well and should have no problem opening the season as the Dodgers' closer. "I feel good. Really good," he said. "I'm not really scared about it. I feel 100 percent where I should be now." Gagne also said his concern over the direction of the club was resolved with the transactions owner Frank McCourt and general manager Ned Colletti made in recent months. "When I saw the moves that Mr. McCourt made i realized he did everything in his power to put a winning team on the field. Now it's up to us to reward him. If we're not successful, it's not his fault."

Weaver Signs-- Free agent pitcher Jeff Weaver to a one-year, $8.4 million contract with an additional $600,000 available in bonuses. He signed for $300,000 less than the Dodgers committed to Brett Tomko. The Los Angeles Times reported Weaver's bottom-line proposal to the Dodgers was three years at $27 million. But that had to be finalized by the end of January. If the he Dodgers could have continued to negotiate with Weaver, like the other 29 major league teams, they perhaps could have signed him. When fans complain that players move from team to team too freely, they must realize that their are rules that seem to specifically encourage it.

Winter Stars-- The Dodgers placed a pair of pitchers on Baseball America's Winter All-Stars. Yhency Brazoban, who apparently righted himself after a disastrous 2005 season and Harold Eckert, who struggled with AAA at Las Vegas and recorded a 5-10 won-lost and a 6.38 ERA. Eckert, 26, came to the Dodgers in 2004 in a trade with the Mets and was 6-3 with Jacksonville and Las Vegas, recording a 5.72 ERA. Their record during winter baseball:
                     w-l  era in  h bb so
Yhency Brazoban,D.R. 3-2 1.64 22 21  6 21
Harold Eckert,Ven.   4-4 2.78 74 62 21 94
Hershiser Rejoins ESPN-- Orel Hershiser, who went from prospective General Manager/Manager to apparent anonymity with the Dodgers, has rejoined ESPN as an analyst. The former NL Cy Young Award winner worked ESPN and ABC during the Little League World Series from 2000-01 and was on ESPN's major league Wednesday telecasts during 2001.

Dodger Blue Notes-- New Dodger outfield prospect Andre Ethier, obtained from Oakland for Milton Bradley and Antonio Perez, married Maggie Germaine whom he met when both were attending Arizona State. …

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