Furcal's Back on Top of His Game

Borrowing a bit here and there, we present a three items of interest about the Dodgers as we all wait for the pitchers and catcher to report to Vero Beach.

Shortstop Rafael Furcal went 10-for-25 with a home run, five runs and four RBI for Aguilas in the Caribbean World Series in Santiago, D.R., reports Tony Jackson of the Los Angeles Daily News.

That would seem to indicate that he has no lingering effects from the ankle injury that plagued him all of last season after he had that near-collision with Jason Repko in a Grapefruit League game against Baltimore in Vero Beach.

Jackson also wrote the Dodgers are close to filling their Triple-A hitting coach vacancy, which was created when Mike Easler was promoted to big-league hitting coach after Don Mattingly stepped aside.

John Moses, who spent 11 seasons in the majors as a role player and later was a first-base coach for both Seattle and Cincinnati, is believed to be the frontrunner for the job.

Martin Declines Extension Talks
Russell Martin's sophomore season catching for the Dodgers was sparkling enough to garner him a spot on the All-Star team, a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger award, writes Diamond Leung of the Riverside Press-Enterprise

So early this offseason, his agent, Bob Garber, received a phone call from assistant general manager Kim Ng looking to discuss a possible multi-year contract extension for Martin, who won't turn 25 until next week. According to General Manager Ned Colletti, Garber declined, and no offer was ever extended.

"It's kind of a touchy thing," Martin said. "I told (Garber) if it wasn't going to be a good offer not to even bother, so that's the conversation that they had." Martin was appreciative of the Dodgers'overture despite not being ready to go forward.

Leung alos noted Martin hasn't been able to speak with former manager Grady Little since he resigned, but that the two had played phone tag and said what they needed to say to each other through some lengthy voicemails.

"I love Grady," Martin said. "He's a good person. It was just surprising. Even to this day, I don't know who's decision it was. It's just that business side of baseball that I don't really understand at times. The decision was made. Whether it was Grady's or not, I don't know."

Martin met with friend, former teammate and fellow Canadian Eric Gagne, who was fingered in the Mitchell Report and could break his silence on the issue soon. "Whenever he feels like it's time to talk, he'll do that. Right now, he's a friend. He'll always remain my friend, and I know he's going through a hard time right now."

Dodgers projected roster
Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, gives us his projected roster for the coming season and their 2007 average: 
 Projected batting order
?1. SS Rafael Furcal?  
.270 BA, .333 OBP, .355 SLG, 6 HR, 47 RBI
?2. LF Juan Pierre?  
.293 BA, .331 OBP, .353 SLG, 0 HR, 41 RBI 
?3. C Russell Martin?   
.293 BA, .374 OBP, .469 SLG, 19 HR, 87 RBI?
4. CF Andruw Jones?  
 .222 BA, .311 OBP, .413 SLG, 26 HR, 94 RBI 
?5. 2B Jeff Kent ?   
.302 BA, .375 OBP, .500 SLG, 20 HR, 79 RBI?
6. 1B James Loney  ? 
.331 BA, .381 OBP, .538 SLG, 15 HR, 67 RBI ?
7. RF Matt Kemp ?  
.342 BA, .373 OBP, .521 SLG, 10 HR, 42 RBI 
?8. 3B Nomar Garciaparra?  
.283 BA, .328 OBP, .371 SLG, 7 HR, 59 RBI

 Projected rotation
1. Brad Penny, 16-4, 3.03 ERA  
?2. Derek Lowe, 12-14, 3.88 ? 
3. Chad Billingsley, 12-5, 3.31 ? 
4. Hiroki Kuroda, 12-8, 3.56 (Japan) 
?5. Esteban Loaiza, 2-4, 5.79  

 Projected bullpen
?Closer: Takashi Saito, 39/43 saves, 1.40 ERA 
?RH setup man: Jonathan Broxton, 2.85 ERA 
?LH setup man: Joe Beimel, 3.88 ERA

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