Garciaparra, Sweeney Scratched From Trip

Nomar Garciaparra's injured hand is still swollen and Mark Sweeney has been battling a sore left knee all spring, and club officials felt a long flight to China wasn't in their best interests.

Nomar has been replaced by minor leaguer Kevin Howard, Sweeney has yet to be replaced. Howard, a five-year minor league veteran who was signed as a free agent last year, hit .292 for Jacksonville with seven homers and 28 runs batted in over 64 games.

The Dodgers released veteran lefty reliever when it became apparent he had no chance to make the club. The move was made to give Martin more time to hook on with another organization before opening day.

In addition, four 40-man roster pitchers -- Mario Alvarez, Jon Meloan, James McDonald and Justin Orenduff -- were reassigned to minor-league camp. There are now 54 players in big league camp, including recent additions of 3B Blake DeWitt LHP and Clayton Kershaw.

Dodgers Shopping?
Ken Rosenthal of reports the Dodgers are looking for backup infield help, but at second, not at third.

Instead of pursuing a high-priced third baseman, the Dodgers are looking for a more versatile infielder who can play second and third, backing up Jeff Kent and Nomar Garciaparra.

The Nationals' Ron Belliard and Royals' Esteban German, are attracting the Dodgers' interest and they would be more affordable than the Tigers' Brandon Inge or White Sox's Joe Crede.

Delywn Young, who is out of options, is an internal possibility for the utility role, but his defense might not be strong enough for the Dodgers to justify carrying him, according to Rosenthal.

Saito Close
Dodger All-Star closer Takashi Saito reported no problems with his injured calf after tossing a 23-pitch bullpen session Monday. The 38-year-old righthander has been recovering from a strained calf muscle.

"He's fine," Dodgers manager Joe Torre told the team's web site. "Good news for us, good news for him."

Saito is still not sure if he will be available for Opening Day in three weeks. "Obviously, that is a big concern, to get ready," he told Ken Gurnick of "That said, I have to take time to heal and not rush and be held back even longer. I have to concentrate on healing my calf."

Saito is entering his third season with Los Angeles after spending 16 years playing in Japan. He went 2-1 with 39 saves and a 1.40 ERA last season.

No Slow Boat to China
A split-squad of Dodgers, highlighted by Joe Torre, Nomar Garciaparra, Andruw Jones, and Matt Kemp tomorrow head to Orlando to catch their flight to Beijing, China for a two-game exhibition series with the San Diego Padres.  The flight, which leaves Wednesday, will arrive in China on Thursday.  The team will work out and make a visit to the Great Wall of China on Friday before the pair of games over the weekend.

b>Another View
Red Sox manager Terry Francona wasn't particularly sentimental about leaving Holman Stadium for the last time after the game Sunday.

He remembered getting a spring training hit off Orel Hershiser, but he would rather work in a place with more creature comforts.

"I don't mean this badly," he said, "and I'll choose my words carefully 'cause the Dodgers are a storied franchise. But this ballpark doesn't have a [dugout] roof, doesn't have a urinal, and it's a pain in the ass. Every fifth inning you see me run down there because I've got to tinkle.

"And you've got to be careful. Line drives go by you and the people in the front row are screaming at you. It's probably part of the reason they're getting new facilities. But I know a lot of people think this is sacrilegious."

"This is very emotional for me," said Brooklynite Larry King, who was a major presence in and around Holman Stadium for the Red Sox' final game in Dodgertown.

Dodger Blue Notes-- The Boston Globe noted, "With Sandy Koufax Lane, Vin Scully Way, and Roy Campanella Boulevard? Al Bumbry Boulevard just doesn't have the same ring to it," referring to the Orioles predicted move into Dodgertown next season.