Loney, LaRoche Headed to Minors?

Jason Repko is out for the season, shortstop Rafael Furcal could play opening day and pitcher Hong-Chi Kuo is out four to six weeks, trainer Stan Conte said. And sources say first baseman and third baseman are expected to spend significant time playing in outfield, where they could have a clearer path to majors.

  Steve Henson, of the Los Angeles Times, speculates that First baseman James Loney and third baseman Andy LaRoche might be optioned to Las Vegas.

Team sources say that Loney and LaRoche will return to the minors. Although the primary reason is that veterans are standing in their way, the club's thinking is they should try to become proficient outfielders while waiting their turn.

With Nomar Garciaparra and Wilson Betemit holding down the first and third base slots, the best way to eventually get the potent bats of Loney and LaRoche into the Dodgers' lineup might be the outfield.

"They won't play exclusively outfield [at Las Vegas], but they'll be out there a lot," the source told Henson. The normally agreeable Loney, who has led the team win batting average most of the spring, said, "I came here to work hard to help the team win and I can't do that in Las Vegas."

Surgery for Repko-- Outfielder Jason Repko underwent surgery to reattach two hamstring tendons to his pelvic bone. Team spokesman Josh Rawitch said the surgery went well.

Repko was injured while chasing a fly ball in an exhibition game in Vero Beach, Fla., last Thursday, tearing the tendons.

"He has torn his hamstring tendon essentially off the bone, a bone in his pelvis," trainer Stan Conte said. "This is what we were concerned about from the beginning, but we had him go through the process of MRIs and having different radiologists read it. You have three tendons that are attached to the bone up in your pelvis, and he's torn two of them."

Conte said the injury is rare in baseball but fairly common in football. It occurred while Repko was running for a fly ball in a game Thursday. The hamstring gave out when he stepped from the grass to the warning track.

Recuperating period is about five months, effectively ending the season for the young outfielder. Repko could start rehabilitation after two or three months.

Repko, 26, hit .254 with three homers and 16 RBIs in 69 games for the Dodgers last season. He was on the disabled list for more than two months because of a severely sprained left ankle.

Kuo Shut Down-- Hong-Chih Kuo has a strained teres major muscle, located below the shoulder, and is not expected to do any throwing for 10 days-three weeks. Conte said the only thing Kuo can do for that muscle is let it rest. "He'll do a lot of exercise for the part of his shoulder that is not hurt," Conte said. "We'll repeat the MRI next week to see if it heals."

Manager Grady Little said he might wait until opening day to decide if shortstop Rafael Furcal can play. Furcal has made steady improvement since spraining his left ankle Thursday, but Little doesn't want him to play if he is not 100 percent.

Furcal played catch and jogged on a treadmill five days after suffering an ankle sprain that Conte described as a two-plus on a scale of three. "He is recovering incredibly quickly," Conte said.

Dodgers, Tigers Tie-- Ramon Martinez and Juan Pierre turned their ankles but both injuries were minor and the Dodgers flew their "A" team back to Los Angeles immediately after the game, thus precluding extra innings.

Opening day pitcher Derek Lowe worked four innings and allowed all Detroit runs, coming on a home run by former Dodger Gary Sheffield. Lowe allowed seven hits.

He was followed by Rudy Seanez, Mike White, Jon Meloan and Travis Smith who collectively held the hard-hitting Tigers to three hits and no runs.

Los Angeles tied the game in the fourth, Andre Ethier opened the scoring with an RBI single, knocking in Olmedo Saenz. Larry Bigbie and Wilson Betemit scored later with Tony Abreu adding a sacrifice fly for his 13th run batted in of the spring.

The Dodgers slipped to 16-13-1, with one game left in Florida tonight (Thursday) with a split squad hosting the NY Mets in Holman Stadium.
 Score by innings
Dodgers	000 300 000-3
Detroit	003 000 000-3

 Dodgers	ab  r  h  bi  ave
Pierre cf	2  0  1  0  .353
 Kemp cf	2  0  0  0  .232
Martin c	3  0  0  0  .250	
 Stinett c	1  0  0  0  .167
Loney 1b	4  0  0  0  .419
 Saenz 1b	3  1  1  0  .341
 Lieberthal dh	0  0  0  0  .238
Gonzalez lf	2  0  1  0  .278
 Bigbie lf	2  1  1  0  .345
Betemit 3b	1  1  0  0  .220
 LaRoche 3b	2  0  1  0  .189
Ethier rf	3  0  1  1  .306
Martinez 2b	3  0  0  0  .214
 Abreu 2b	1  0  0  0  .362
 Garcia 2b	1  0  0  0  .333 
 Valdez ss	3  0  0  0  .359
 DeJesus ss	0  0  0  0  .286
    Totals	31  3   5  2
    Detroit	34  3  10  3

  RBI- Ethier (4), Abru (13). SF-Abru.
LOB- Dodgers 5, Tigers 6. DP- Valdez
and Loney.

 Dodger      in  h  r-er  bb  so era
Lowe	     4.0  7  3-3  3  1  3.38
Seanez	     1.0  2  0-0  0  2  1.74
White	     2.0  0  0-0  1  3  0.96
Meloan	     1.0  1  0-0  0  2  2.57
Smith	     1.0  0  0-0  0  2  7.50
 HBP-Valdez, Liebenthal.  
T-2:34.  Att- 5,973.
Dodger Blue Notes-- Nomar Garciaparra missed the game to be with his wife, former soccer star Mia Hamm, and was in an airplane when their twin girls were born. "He was on a speaker phone with the delivery room speaking with Mia during the births," team spokesman Josh Rawitch said. ... Grady Little said they have not decided what to do with final cuts. "We still have a decision to make with a position player or two, and the last pitcher," he said. …Minor league outfielder Adam Godwin, scheduled to come to L.A. with the Dodgers, became ill in Lakeland and returned to Vero Beach.

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