Spring Training Report Card #1

Jeff Kent and Andruw Jones were pencilled in to form the heart of the 2008 Dodgers lineup - to provide power, experience, the history of post season play, the "right" way to play the game of baseball. With spring  training halfway over, that winter writing needs serious editing and reconsideration.

Andruw, well, Andruw is still the .222 hitter he was a year ago. So far, he might be the fourth best veteran outfielder on the club.

His play so far is well behind that of Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and even Juan Pierre. And to throw more concern into the fray, Jones arrived in camp at least 20 pounds overweight - if not more.

They say that spring training doesn't mean all that much, but it has to mean something. And right now, the Dodgers investment in Jones is still very much a future thing.

One could say just about the same thing about Jeff Kent. Kent just turned 40 before and he is already sidelined by physical problems. Lets face it, older men get hurt trying to do athletic things best left to younger men almost half their age.

Nomar Garciaparra,given third due to the freak injury to LaRoche, is hitting right there with Andre Jones - meaning not a heck  of a lot.

Shortstop Raffy Furcal is finally healthy although the numbers have yet to show it.

Hu's on second. No, he's (Hu) is at short. So who's on second when Kent cant play? Dewlyn Young, the good hit, not much field kid out of options so far has it backwards. He's played a great defensive game, showing so much more range than Kent, but he hasn't hit a lick.

Joe Torre, said to like veterans,has to be smart enough to know his best two hitters are the kids, James Loney and Matt Kemp. The two kids keep  coming on and on. Kemp is slashing homers and triples, Loney, as is his want,  is hitting over .400 - again.

Hiroki Kuroda, the 33 year old rookie, looks like Boston's Daisuke Matsuzaka - only with a better and more dependable sinker. In fact, Kuroda's sinker looks to be better than even Derek Lowe's.

He opens eyes every time he goes out. While the Dodgers investment in Andre Jones is a somewhat future hope, Kuroda has already made the Dodgers look good.

They may have to rewrite the book on 19 year old lefty hurler Clayton Kershaw. While the Dodgers don't want to rush the phenom, the only rushing has been his pitches.

A power hurler, he has a dandy curve that freezes hitters and is more than a hair reminiscent of the great one, Sandy Koufax.

Like every team in both Florida and Arizona, there are good things and bad things about every team. Jason Repko always plays better than his skills. Tony Abreu is not healed yet. Repko, a 31-year-old career minor leaguer, is a very long  shot to make  the team, but has frankly played better than Mark Sweeney.

The Dodgers will start the season with more than one player on the DL. Jason Schmidt has a reserved seat there. Laroche is there. Abreu  may be there. Even Kent is not sure of being healthy enough to start the season.  Closer Saito is still working through problems.

All in all, the play has been on baseball not steroids. The only steroids we've heard about lately is the shot my wife is about to get for the torn miniscus muscle in her knee. And that is where steroid talk frankly belongs.

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