Dodgers Send Guzman, Aybar to Minor Camp

VERO BEACH, Florida-- Superstar in the making Joel Guzman and infielder Willie Aybar were sent to the minor league camp and will play at Las Vegas this summer, Manager Grady Little said. He also pointed out that "players and smart and most are good at math," thus they probably knew they were not going to make the team, at least at the start of the season.

"Guzman has been very, very good," Little noted. "But we don't want a young player like that to stay on the bench -- they need to play."

He noted that Guzman would be able to help the club in a number of positions if needed, "shortstop, third base, outfield and at first base," Little said. Guzman will spend some time at each position at Las Vegas, even first base. "You never know where or when you will need him."

He likened Guzman to Chipper Jones. "He played shortstop for me at AAA. Everyone knew he could hit, but when Ron Gant went down with an injury, Jones was called up and started in left field immediately."

Little pointed out that Guzman is a good hitter, but "needs to get better. If you bring a young player up and he has a weakness, the opponents will find the weakness and exploit it over and over.

"Players who are optioned out need to go down and work hard to get better. We don't want them to come up and fail. We watch things closely and bring up the player who is hot."

Neither player will travel to Los Angeles due to major league rules forbidding those on the 40-man roster from doing that. Non-roster players can be taken along even if they were previously assigned to the minor camp

Guzman hit .296 during the spring, tying with Jason Repko for the team lead with 16 hits, including three doubles , a pair of homers and seven runs batted in. He also struck out 11 times in 54 at-bats.

Aybar hit in bad luck most of the spring after a strong performance in Los Angeles at the end of the 2005 season. He hit .216 but hit the ball hard and at people much of the time. He was caught in a situation with experienced infielders Ramon Martinez (who has made the roster) and Oscar Robles (who is still on the bubble) battling for the utility infield slot.

Kuo Wins Mulvey
Hong-Chih Kuo is the winner of the 2006 Jim and Dearie Mulvey Award, which goes to the top rookie in camp each year. The award has been given every year since 1969 and is named for the former owners who held a share of the Brooklyn Dodgers 1912-1938. Kuo pitched 10 scoreless innings, which gave him the edge over six other Dodger rookies who earned votes for tom the Dodger coaching and baseball operations staff. Kuo will be presented with the award at pre-game ceremonies today (Wednesday) before the game with the Washington Nationals.

Breaking Camp
The Dodgers break camp after the game today with Washington, with one squad playing the Houston Astros in the afternoon at Kissimmee, Florida, and the other squad meeting the Seattle Mariners in Las Vegas. Friday the Dodgers meet the Angels in Dodger Stadium and the Freeway Series then switches to Anaheim Stadium for Saturday and Sunday games. The 2006 National League season kicks off for the Dodgers Monday in Dodger Stadium when they meet the Atlanta Braves in games that will begin to count.

Pitching smothers Tigers
Who needs the World Baseball Classic when Jae Seo (Korea), Eric Gagne (Canada), Danys Baez (Cuba) and Franquelis Osoria (Dominican Republic) were on hand Tuesday at Holman Stadium to hold a Detroit team that came in hitting .297 to a pair of home runs and four other hits.

Seo, in his second start, sparkled, allowing only six hits, including a home run, over six innings, walking one and striking out six. He had a one-hitter through three, a two-hitter through four and allowed his only run in the fifth.

Gagne followed and after striking out two with an assortment of pitchers, including a tantalizing slow curve that wended its way toward the plate at about 30 miles per hour. He gave up a home run to catcher Vance Wilson, his second of the game, then got the final out on a pop.

Baez allowed a leadoff single, then stopped the Tigers cold with the help of a nice running catch by Jason Repko in right field. Osoria finished off the game with a ground ball and two strikeouts, earning his third save.

The Dodgers scored in the first on a single by Rafael Furcal, boosting his average to .440, a double by JD Drew and a wild pitch.

They added two more in the third when Kenny Lofton singled and Drew smashed a long shot to right field that bounced off the clubhouse well behind the fence. It was his third roundtripper.

Ramon Martinez's second homer of the spring finished the scoring in the fifth.

Lofton was 1-for-4 but left the game hitting only .146. Kent's 0-for-3 dropped him to .206 and Garciaparra, despite a hit in two official trips, is hitting only .220.

The win is the 14th of the spring season, tying the 2005 team's total victories and it was the eighth win in 11 home games.
  Dodgers      ab r h bi ave
Furcal ss       2 0 1 0 .440
  Martinez ss   1 1 1 1 .326
Lofton cf       4 0 1 0 .146
  Baez p        0 0 0 0 .000
  Osoria p      0 0 0 0 .000
Drew rf         3 1 3 2 .353
  Repko rf      1 0 0 0 .314
Kent 2b         3 0 0 0 .206
  Robles 2b     1 0 0 0 .200
Garciaparra 1b  2 0 1 0 .220
Mueller 3b      4 0 1 0 .326
Cruz lf         3 0 0 0 .263
Alomar c        3 0 0 0 .280
  Martin c      0 0 0 0 .324
Seo p           2 0 0 0 .000
  Gagne p       0 0 0 0 .000
  Ledee ph      1 0 0 0 .333
  Ross cf       0 0 0 0 .333
 Dodgers       30 4 8 3 .263
 Detroit       31 2 5 2 .293

  Score by innings
Detroit   000 010 100-2
Dodgers   102 001 00x-4

  Dodgers      in  h r-er bb so era
Seo (w, 1-0)   6.0 3 1-1  1  6  3.27
Gagne          1.0 1 1-1  0  2  3.38
Baez           1.0 1 0-0  0  1  1.64
Osoria (sv 3)  1.0 1 0-0  0  1  1.64
Happy Birthday-- Welcome Gastright (1985-1937), Rube Desseau (1883-1952), Leo Meyer (1888-1968), Gibby Brack (1908-1960), Tommy Holmes (89), Brian Jordan (39).

Dodger Blue Notes-- Grady Little has still not made the 11-12 pitcher decision. "It will be more than 10 and less that 13" he said with a smile. …Stopper Eric Gagne's appeal of a two-day suspension from 2005 will not be heard by Major League Baseball immediately, so Gagne is available for opening day. …Kelly Wunsch, optioned out yesterday, has been suffering from shoulder soreness and may be shut down until the Las Vegas season opens on April 6. Little noted that they know what he is capable of and "this is not the last time we're going to see he guy," …Oscar Robles worked at first base in the game against the Mets and has added that to his resume. …Catcher Dioner Navarro was 5-for-8 in a minor league game in Dodgertown Monday. He DH'ed and did not play defense but he is expected to start against Washington Wednesday (today) in the final game at Vero Beach. …Ken Gurnick of noted that the Red Sox were willing to trade infielder Tony Graffanino for 1B Hee-Seop Choi but the Dodgers were not interested in a $2.05 million utility infielder because of the presence of Martinez, Robles and Aybar.