Spring Training Half Over

Spring training is half over, real games start in a matter of weeks. So how do the Dodgers look? Anything resembling the opening day start wasn't fielded until March 15 in Orlando against the Braves.

Former big league pitcher Kurt Ainsworth showed he needed more work and was the first non-roster invitee of substance to be sent back to the minor league camp.

Veteran Chris Truby soon followed, and will probably have to DH, play some backup first and third behind Andy LaRoche and James Loney at Albuquerque.

Six year big league vet Brian Meadows, who had a real shot at the long relief slot, pitched often and badly and was a candidate for an outright release.

Both Odalis Perez and Jae Seo were terrific for the national teams in the World Classic but had yet to pitch for the Dodgers. Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, however, was in touch with both teams daily.

Brett Tomko has pitched better than Dodgers fans thought for a guy who has hovered at or below the .500 mark for the last few years.

Veteran Aaron Sele has shown he still has some talent and it might come down to deciding between Sele and last year's number five starter Dennis Houlton. That could be bad news for Houlton who still has a minor league option left.

Oscar Robles and Ramon Martinez are in a heckuva battle for one slot, so much so both may make the club instead of Hee Sop Choi.

Olmedo Saenz played superbly for his national team and fielded better than he did last year when a bad back gave him problems bending over.

Stung by Eric Gagne's spring training injuries a year ago, the team has been careful and cautious working Jeff Kent, J.D. Drew, Rafael Furcal and Gagne towards full time play.

Meanwhile, rehabbing shortstop Cesar Izturis is way ahead of schedule in coming back before the projected mid-season target.

Although new first baseman Nomar Garciaparra didn't handle one popup and juggled a one hopper to first, he has turned in a number of really good plays at first and is already a better fielder than Choi.

The biggest question looks like who will play left field? And how will the club winnow the last two bullpen spots from a number of players who've done nothing to pitch themselves off the ballclub in Grapefruit League play.

Odds are Willy Aybar, last year's September flash, goes back to Las Vegas.

The tandem of GM Ned Colletti and manager Grady Little have already injected a new spirit of calm and togetherness on the club, replacing the Katzenjammer kids of a year ago (DePodesta and Tracy), and is shows all around.

While pitchers are almost always ahead of the hitters in the spring, the Dodgers look like they have a very solid pitching staff one through eleven, with capable backups needed if necessary. The defense will be adequate, the catching improved over a year ago. The offense looks a tad short in the power department, but a lot better on running.