But when you're young and looking for any sort of field time at the major league level to show your wares, those on the bus didn't mind the trip at all. And the return trip was even more enjoyable.
Rookie Chad Billingsley made his second start of the spring and sailed through the tough Detroit lineup -- they lead the American League in hits and home runs -- while using only 12 pitches each inning. But after a leadoff homer in the last of the third, the wheels started to fall off for the young man.
Over a 37-pitch third inning, he gave up another single and a couple of walks before retiring the final batter on a 420-foot fly to Jason Repko in center.
Lance Carter kept his ERA at the minimum (0,00) with a 1-2-3 fourth inning, helped out when Pat Borders nailed a runner attempting to steal.
Shaky Yhency Brazoban allowed two singles and just when it appeared he would work out of the jam in the fifth, he wild pitched a run across and the Dodgers trailed 2-0.
Brazoban settled down in the sixth and climaxed a scoreless inning with a strikeout.
Kuo, getting a little longer look to see if his surgically repaired elbow (two Tommy John operations) could work more than a single inning, demonstrated he was up to the task.
He struck out the side in the seventh, started the eighth with another KO and finished off with a come-backer to the mound and a pop to first.
Over five appearances and 6.1 innings, he has retired 19 of 20 hitters who have faced him -- a microscopic .052 average -- and has struck out eight.
It appears he will be difficult to keep off the airplane to Los Angeles when the Dodgers pack up their tents and move back for the Freeway Series and the season opener.
Then, about when Dodger fans were congratulating tthemselveson a solid, but losing, game, the remarkable ninth exploded in the Tiger's face.
After Andre Ethier fanned to open the inning, Olmedo Saenz singled to left and Jamie Hoffman ran for him. EY Young, hitting for Matt Kemp, banged a shot to third base that was muffed, allowing the tying run on base.
James Loney, who was 3-for-3 previously, looped a drive to right and the Detroit fielder made a diving catch to deprive him of his fourth hit of the game and a certain RBI.
Then Cody Ross, who has hit the ball hard all spring, smashed a shot off the pitcher's foot, the ball glancing to the third baseman and again he threw the ball away, Hoffman scoring.
Martin, the heir-apparent to the starting catcher's job at least while Dioner Navarro nursed a strained hamstring, lined a double to right field, knocking in the tying and winning runs.
Osoria allowed a single with one in the ninth but Loney started a snappy 3-6-1 double play to end the improbable victory.
The Dodgers increased their record to 9-5-3 and will host the Washington Nationals today (Sunday).
Dodgers ab r h bi ave Repko cf 3 0 0 0 .281 Denker 2b 1 0 0 0 .000 Aybar 3b 3 0 1 0 .200 Truby 3b 1 0 0 0 .143 Guzman lf 3 0 1 0 .306 Ethier lf 1 0 0 0 .227 Saenz dh 4 0 1 0 .182 *Hoffman pr 0 1 0 0 .000 Kemp rf 3 0 0 0 .118 #Young pr 0 1 0 0 .143 Loney 1b 4 0 3 0 .452 Martinez 2b 2 0 0 0 .346 Ross cf 2 1 2 0 .364 Borders c 3 0 0 0 .200 Martin c 1 0 1 2 .348 Hu ss 4 0 1 0 .375 Totals 36 3 10 2 .255 Detroit 31 2 6 1 .291 Score by innings: Dodgers 000 000 003-3 Detroit 001 010 000-2 Errors-Detroit 2. 2b hits- Martin. LOB-Dodgers 6, Detroit 4. SB-Repko. CS- Detroit 1. DP- Detroit 1, Loney, Hu, Osoria. Dodgers in h r-er bb so era Billingsley 3.0 2 1-1 2 2 3.86 Carter 1.0 1 0-0 0 0 0.00 Brazoban 2.0 2 1-1 0 2 9.64 Kuo (w, 1-0) 2.0 0 0-0 0 4 0.00 Osoria (sv 2) 1.0 0 0-0 0 0 2.57 Totals 9.0 6 2-2 2 2 3.58 Detroit 9.0 10 3-0 0 9 4.90 WP- Brazoban. T-2:40. Att-5,498.Happy Birthday-- "Iron Man" Mike McGinnity (1871-1929), Roy Evans (1874-1915), Ray Powell (58), Jeff Hamilton (42), David Ross (29). Dodger Blue Notes--Steve Henson of the Los Angeles Times reported that today (Sunday) the Dodger brass will decide the look of the 2006 Dodgers who will open the season against the Braves in Dodger Stadium April 3. Included in the power conference will be General Manager Ned Colletti, assistants Kim Ng, Roy Smith and Bill Lajoie, Manager Grady Little and his coaches as well at player development director Terry Collins and Triple A Manager Jerry Royster and hhiscoaches Steve Yeager and Ken Howell. …The Dodgers are considering using Takashi Saito as a starter, probably at Las Vegas at least to start the season. …Former Dodger submariner Steve Schmoll has been converted to throwing overhand by the Mets.