Dodger Inside Pitch - January 8

The Dodgers are hoping that New Year's Day was merely the trial run. The team had a float in Pasadena's famed Rose Parade commemorating its upcoming 50th season in Los Angeles. If things go as well as the franchise hopes, the Dodgers could find themselves in a procession through one of Los Angeles' downtown streets as they celebrate a World Series championship.

Current players who took part in the festivities included third baseman Nomar Garciaparra, first baseman James Loney and closer Takashi Saito plus Brooklyn stars Carl Erskine and Duke Snider.

For Saito, it was merely another stop in what has become a busy offseason.

Saito was part of a small group of Dodgers representatives who spoke with right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, the free agent pitcher from Japan. Kuroda eventually signed a three-year deal with the Dodgers.

"It was a pleasure to be called the key person, and yes, I was the one who did talk to Kuroda," Saito said through a translator. "But from this point on, the only thing Kuroda and I want to do is help the Dodgers win the World Series."

Saito would rather find himself in a World Series parade, but participating in the Rose Parade had its share of thrills.

"It's an honor for me," Saito said. "I always enjoy seeing my teammates, but more than that, I'm excited to see the former Dodger players (who were also on the float)."

One week earlier, Saito was in the Los Angeles area working out at the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy. He happened to run into the All Aichi High School baseball team -- from Japan -- while at the academy and threw out the first pitch in one of the squad's games.

With six weeks of offseason time remaining, Saito has plenty of time to turn his attention back to baseball and the upcoming season.

"I will do whatever it takes for the Dodgers to win," he said. "I'm looking forward to 2008 to be a great year for the Dodgers."

Notes & Quotes
--RHP Chin-Hui Tsao should be rethinking his decision to not accept a minor league assignment with the Dodgers. The injury-plagued relief pitcher recently signed a minor league deal with Kansas City. Though playing in the Royals organization might expedite his return to the majors, his odds of getting to the World Series anytime soon have greatly decreased.

--Free agent OF Luis Gonzalez was one of a handful of veteran players who was not happy when he saw his playing time reduced in favor of younger players last season. With eight weeks to go before position players report for spring training, Gonzalez is still looking for a new home. "I'm going to do whatever I have to do until they rip this uniform off my back," he said.

--Juan Bustabad, who guided the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Dodgers to a division championship, was promoted to manager of the Great Lakes Loons, one of the organization's Class A teams. Bustabad replaces Lance Parrish, who was fired after one season as manager of Great Lakes.

--While many teams are still trying to convince general manager Ned Colletti to trade players such as OF Matt Kemp, OF Andre Ethier, 3B Andy La Roche, 1B James Loney and RHP Chad Billingsley, or a combination thereof, most have gotten used to the idea that C Russell Martin has become untouchable. All it took was a start in the All-Star Game, a Gold Glove Award, a Silver Slugger Award and playing in 151 games last season.

By the Numb3rs: 83 -- Appearances made by LHP Joe Beimel last season. It's a number that could come in handy should he refuse to accept the Dodgers' arbitration offer. Beimel lost his arbitration case last year.

Quote to Note: "I used to love to play the infield. But now I like everything about catching." --Dodgers third baseman-turned-catcher Russell Martin.