Dodgers Give Lundberg, Veras Another Chance

Being Southern League Pitcher of the Year should be quite an honor. Maybe, but it doesn't seem to thrill the Dodgers all that much. Still, they're bringing Spike Lundberg back for another try.

Lundberg won the award as the Southern's best this year for having gone 15-2, 2.27 for Jacksonville. Very nice; however, that didn't cause the Dodgers to bring him up since he's 29, doesn't throw especially hard and wasn't on their list of prospects. So, he became a free agent

And he's the second winner of that honor they were willing let get away. Joel Hanrahan captured it in 2003 when he, by contrast, was regarded highly. That regard vanished when he slipped the next couple of years and, although, he seemed to come back strongly in 2006, he, too, wasn't protected and went off to free agency.

Hanrahan won't becoming back because he signed with Washington which did promote him to the 40-man . Lundberg, though, has been re-signed so he will be around again.

He's currently in the Mexican Pacific Winter League, which he ate up last time to win his first trial in the L.A. system. Thus year, though, he's been on something of a diet for his record is 5-3 but his ERA is 4.34.

The Dodgers also have added righthander Dario Veras via free agency and if he makes it back it would be the kind of stuff movies are made of for he hasn't pitched in a summer league here since 2001.

Veras is a Dominican whom the Dodgers first signed back in 1990 as an infielder. After a couple of season of not hitting they made him into a relief pitcher and he was eventually drafted away by the Padres. They brought him up in 1996 when he pitched extremely well 3-1, 2.79.

But then came a sore shoulder. He didn't produce the next season so was traded to the Red Sox where he did even less. They let him go to the Royals, then it was out of ball altogether.

But the repaired shoulder seems to have come around. He's currently pitching in Dominican winter ball for Cibao with a 3.18 ERA and three saves. So, at age 33, he'll get another chance over here.

Also arriving in the system is catcher Octavio Martinez. He's a 27-year-old veteran of eight minor league seasons and spent this past year in the Pirates' chain. He started by hitting a lusty .383 for Lynchburg in the Carolina League so was quickly whisked up to AA Altoona where he hit .259 or more like his norm.

The Dodgers have also lost a couple of catchers for Einar Diaz has signed a minor league deal with those Pirates. He was around for the briefest of moments having been picked up as an extra to get in two games at Las Vegas and three with the Dodgers. He was left off the post-season roster, then filed for free agency.

Edwin Bellorin also moved on, having signed with the Rockies. He had vowed to leave at the end of the 2005 season but didn't get a major league offer so came back when the Dodgers promised him a promotion from Vero Beach to Jacksonville.

Instead, he moved up to Vegas where he began as Russell Martin's backup but became more or less the regular when Martin was promoted. He wound up playing in 96 games, hiting .234 with seven home runs.

The team also released five players from the lower minors, some with fairly respectable records but none thought of as having much of a future.

Righthander Nate Hochgesang was 2-0 at Ogden, 1-0 at Columbus but his ERA 's were 5.79 and 9.35 respectively.

Righthander Edgar Lizarraga has been pitching in Mexico where he was 5-2, 2.04 for Mexico City in the summer. In winter ball, though, he's only 1-3, 6.99.

Lefthander Kale Garrison, who's battled arm problems, was 1-1, 3.24 at Colmbus while outfielder Jesus Mora hit .313 with the Gulf Coast Dodgers.

Age is what did them in. Garrison's 24, while Mora is 22, almost geriatric for rookie ball. Furthermore, he couldn't crack the starting lineup and played in only 15 games.

Also released was lefthander Juan Flores who spent the summer in the Mexican minor leagues.

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