Rain, Wind Scatters Big Crowd in third

VERO BEACH, Fla.-- Everyone got a head start towards the "Early Bird Specials" in Vero Beach as strong winds and heavy rain quickly emptied Holman Stadium in the top of the third inning.

Red Sox sluggers had pasted Hong-Chih Kuo for five runs on three home runs with one out after the Dodgers had nailed Daisuke Matsuzaka for a first inning run.

Some 9,000+ crowded into the park under sunny skies to watch the Red Sox new $100 million pitcher face the Dodgers. The Sox paid $51 million for the right to negotiate and then signed Matsuzaka to a $52 million contract.

Along with the crowd, a contingent of 70 Japanese-language media members gave the game a World Series-like flavor. One bystander thought their must not have been a telephoto lens left in Japan.

Brad Penny was scheduled to start but Kou got the nod and Penny worked in a minor league game on the back side.

Kuo opened the game like he was the multi-millionaire, fanning the first two Sox and getting the third on a soft fly to center.

Matsuzaka didn't have the same luck with the Dodgers. Shortstop Rafael Furcal lined the first pitch he saw into the right field corner for a double and Juan Pierre bunted him to third.

Marlon Anderson, hitting third, singled to left field to knock in Furcal. It was Anderson's fourth plate appearance this spring due to injury problems.

Los Angeles threatened to add to the total when Olmedo Sanez singled Anderson to third before the Boston pitcher pulled himself together and fanned both Andre Ethier and Russell Martin.

But in the top of the second, left fielder Wily Mo Pena and catcher Jason Veritek slammed back to back homers.

Rain started to sprinkle down when Kou walked Matsuzaka in the top of the third and when right fielder Kevin Youkilis drove a ball well over the right field fence with two on base, the rain started to fall -- hard.

Both teams left the field and workers covered the infield but then the wind and rain picked up until it appeared to be a mini-hurricane, driving out even the most hardy fans.

The water rose to high it flooded the first rows of seats before workmen could clear the drains.

The Dodgers make their TV debut today (Saturday) when they host Houston with a 1 p.m. EST start.

Bowie Kuhn Dead at 80-- Major League Baseball and the Dodger family are mourning the loss of former commissioner Bowie Kuhn, who passed away March 15 at the age of 80 from complications following a bout with pneumonia. Kuhn was baseball's commissioner from 1969-84 and saw the game through an unprecedented period of growth. A moment of silence was observed for Kuhn before all Spring Training games Friday.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Manager Grady Little looked rested the morning after a doubleheader at Jupiter and in Holman Stadium. When told by a reporter he looked better, he said, "We earned our $15.00 yesterday." …The Padres sent 1B Brian Myrow to the minors. …Closer Takashi Saito tossed two innings in a minor league game at the same time the Dodgers played the Red Sox, avoiding the huge media crush at the same time. Saito has not allowed an earned run in 3.0 innings this season. …Jonathan Meloan notched his third save yesterday and is tied with Florida's Mike Koplove for the Grapefruit League lead. After fanning three yesterday, Jason Schmidt's 11 strikeouts rank fourth in the GL. Mark Hendrickson is seventh in the GL in innings pitched with 11.2. On the offensive front, James Loney went 2-for-3 and raised his average to .485, which ranks third. Nomar Garciaparra, Tony Abreu and Wilson Valdez all have three homers, which is good for a third-place tie with four other players. …The Los Angeles Daily News reports that five years removed from being named Pacific-10 Conference Player of the Year as a junior at USC, Alberto Concepcion figured his brief promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket was about the best he was going to do with the Red Sox. So Concepcion, by then 25, asked for his release last fall, eventually signing a minor-league deal with his hometown Dodgers that didn't include a big-league camp invitation. …  

LA Dodgers Insider Top Stories