Dodgers Settle on 11-Man Pitching Staff

Manager Grady Little has seemingly determined that they will keep 11 men on the pitching staff, with open dates making it possible to go with four starters through April. When asked if they might need 12 pitchers, Little said. "Dang, I hope not." So the question now is, who will fill out the rest of the roster?

Obviously, 1B Nomar Garciaparra, 2B Jeff Kent, SS Rafael Furcal and 3B Bill Mueller will be on the list along with OFs Kenny Lofton, JD Drew; C Sandy Alomar and either Dioner Navarro or Russell Martin, depending on Navarro's sore hamstring. The Dodgers won't keep both young catchers on the major league roster, both need to play regularly. If Navarro cannot answer the bell in April, Martin will be the man. Gold Glove SS Cesar Izturis, while healing rapidly, may be scheduled for a rehab in the minors before getting the call in Los Angeles.

That's eight.

OFs Jose Cruz, the sensation of the final weeks of 2005, and Ricky Ledee, the #1 lefty pinch-hitter, have been joined by Jason Repko. Little announced that Repko has made the team. He's a brilliant fielder but so far has not hit with regularity. Young sensations Joel Guzman and Andre Ethier are seemingly scheduled to be sent to the other side of the camp along with EY Young, and Cody Ross, whose batting numbers rival those of Jason Romano in 2005, will have to be traded or lost, since he is out of options.

That's 11.

As far as the bench goes, 1B/3B Olmedo Sanez, the Dodgers leading righthanded pinch-hitter last season, will certainly be included on the roster They will keep jack-of-all-trades infielder Oscar Robles or veteran Ramon Martinez. If they hang on to each of them that will fill the 14-man contingent, leaving 1B Hee-Seop Choi, who tied for the team lead last year with 15 homers and Willie Aybar, who was one of the few bright spots in the final month of '05, are destined to miss the bus.

Little admitted that he has not seen Choi play, since he has been competing in the WBC, and will play him for a few days while he is evaluated. With young James Loney just a phone call away if something should happen to Garciaparra, it looks like an attempt to trade Choi and his modest $725,000 salary is in the future. Perhaps a Choi/Ross package is being considered. Both will be able to help some team immediately.

Little also said that Aybar has caught his eye, both with his bat and with his glove. While Willie's batting average is anemic, he has hit the ball hard. But with three veterans in front of him (Robles, Martinez and Saenz) his immediate future seems to be in Las Vegas.

All the staff feels that Guzman could help the club right now. His bat seems major league quality and his fielding, while somewhat shaky, has certainly been competent. Will the team deselect Robles or Martinez to enable them to add Guzman's powerful bat? Or if the rookie is kept, will they need both Ledeeand Cruz? Little has pointed out that if Guzman doesn't start he will be sent to the minors to do just that.

The whole scenario has the feel of an Agatha Cristie mystery and we just might have to wait until after the final game of the freeway series to see who dun it, or to be more precise, who hasn't dun it.

Marlins Score Early, Stop Dodgers
The Dodgers traveled to Jupiter to play the Florida Marlins but much to their surprise they instead played the winners of the 1927 Yankees Wantabee Contest. And on a long and windy afternoon, they spent much of their time chasing 12 hits to all corners of the park, including three home runs, a triple and five doubles -- good for a 8-6 win.

The wind was howling out toward the center field wall and the Yankees, er, Marlins took full advantage of it, scoring all their runs in the first four innings, including five in the second.

The game wasn't as close as the final score, L.A. running across three in the eighth to make it respectable. Each team made a dozen hits but Florida's accounted for 28 bases, the Dodgers only 14.

] Ricky Ledee, who had two hits, scored a run and knocked in another, collected an RBI single that started as a foul pop behind the plate, drifted out onto the infield and fell among a gaggle of Marlin fielders who never laid a glove on it before it his just a couple feet in front of the pitcher's mound.

Aaron Sele started, sporting a 1.54 earned run average in his four games, three of them starts. He lasted just two innings, giving up seven hits and six runs, including two homers and two doubles.

Lance Carter was tapped for his first runs of the spring, allowing four hits (homer, triple, double, double). It was that sort of a day.

Former Dodger Reggie Abercrombie, who was 0-for-4 when the Marlins last played in Holman Stadium, made up for it with a homer in the first and a ringing double.

Olmedo Saenz doubled in the top of the second and score on Bill Mueller's RBI single, his team-leading 10th run batted in for the spring.

Ledee's "blast" (500 feet - 250 up and 250 down) knocked in the Dodger's second run in the third. The third run came in the sixth on a RBI single by Ramon Martinez.

Three more rattled across in the eighth to turn an 8-3 lead into a respectable score. Sandy Alomar doubled, Andre Ethier singled him home, and Willie Aybar singled. Jimmy Rohan's linsingle to right knocked in the second run and Cody Ross' sac fly ended the painful afternoon.

After Sele and Carter were manhandled, strong outings were posted by Franquelis Osoria (2 innings-four strikeouts), Jonathan Broxton (0,1) and Kelly Wunsch (0.2) plus Hong-Chih Kuo who struck out one of the three he faced in his single inning.
  Dodgers       ab r h bi ave
Repko lf         4 1 1 0 .268
 *Guzman ph-lf   1 0 1 0 .317
Robles ss        3 0 0 0 .258
  Choi 1b        2 0 0 0 .250
Cruz cf          3 0 0 0 .222
  DeJesus ss     2 0 0 0 .000
Saenz 1b         2 0 1 0 .231
  Osoria p       0 0 0 0 .000
  Broxton p      0 0 0 0 .000
  Wunsch p       0 0 0 0 .000 
  #Alomar ph     1 0 1 0 .312
  1-Denker pr-2b 1 1 0 0 .000
Ledee rf         2 0 2 1 .556
  2-Ether pr-rf  2 2 1 1 .259
Mueller 3b       2 0 1 1 .387
  3-Aybar pr-3b  1 1 1 0 .211
Martin c         3 0 0 0 .357
  Borders c      1 0 0 0 .176
Martinez 2b      3 0 1 1 .344
  Rohan 2b       1 0 1 1 .400
  Kuo p          0 0 0 0 .000
Sele p           1 0 0 0 .000
  Carter p       1 0 1 0 1.000
  Osoria p       0 0 0 0 .000
  Ross cf        1 0 0 1 .360  
  Totals        37 6 12 6 .265
  Florida       37 8 12 8 .276

  Score by innings:
Dodgers  011 001 030-6
Florida  151 100 00x-8

  1-ran for Alomar in 8th. 2-ran for Ledee
in 6th. 3-ran for Mueller kin 6th. *singled
for Repko in 8th. #doubled for Wunsch
in 8th.
  Error- Borders, Rohan. 
2b hits-Saenz (2), Ledee (2), Alomar (2). 
LOB- Dodgers 8, Florida 6. 
Double plays-Florida 1.

  Dodgers  in h r-er bb so era
Sele      2.0 7  6-6  0 1 5.27
Carter    1.0 4  2-2  0 0 1.64 
Osoria    2.0 1  0-0  0 3 2.00
Broxton   0.1 0  0-0  0 1 6.35
Wunsch    0.2 0  0-0  0 0 6.75
Kuo       1.0 0  0-0  0 1 0.00
  Totals  9.0 12 8-8  1 8 3.76
  Florida 9.0 12 6-6  3 8 3.29
  Time- 2:26. Attendance- 4,429.
Roster cut-- The Dodgers sent RHPs Chad Billingsley and Joe Biemel and OF Matt Kemp to minor league camp. 1B James Loney and OF EY Young were assigned to Las Vegas. The list of transfers to the minor league side of the camp will pick up as the training season winds down.

Happy Birthday-James Sebring (1882-1909), Overton Tremper (1906-1996) and 123-game winner Ramon Martinez (38).

Dodger Blue Notes--Catcher Dioner Navarro took batting practice Monday for the first time and pronounced himself, well, not 100% but getting comfortable.