Ethier Bids For Full-Time Job

Andre Ethier took advantage of extra playing time to thump the Washington Nationals, smacking three hits, including a home run, and knock in four of the six Dodger runs as the Dodgers battered Odalis Perez at Viera.

Indications have been that Ethier was to be the odd-man out of the quartet of outfielders that also include Juan Pierre as well as Andruw Jones and Matt Kemp, who were in China with Joe Torre and the split squad.

Brad Penny started and allowed only a double in his five innings on the mound, dropping his earned run average to 0.90.

The big righthander, who was recently presented with the Dgouts "Old Slugger Award" as the best hitting Dodger pitcher in 2007, singled in his only official at bat and boosted his spring average to .500.

Takashi Saito, in his first work of the spring, retired all three Nationals he faced in the sixth inning. He has been sidelined by a slight calf pull.

Ethier took over the Dodger home run leadership in the fourth inning when he slugged a two-run shot that gave Los Angeles their first lead.

He added a two-run single in the sixth inning, giving him four RBI on the day and 10 overall, also a team-leading figure.

Rafael Furcal accounted for the middle two runs, singling in the fifth inning to drive in Jason Repko and Luis Maza.

Former Dodger lefty Odalis Perez started for the Nationals and was KO'ed in the fifth, having allowed five hits, a couple walks and four runs.

Scott Proctor allowed a walk and a pair of hits to put Washington on the scoreboard in the seventh, but he added a scoreless eighth.

Former Dodger Joel Hanrahan shut Los Angeles out in the ninth.

Rudy Seanez fought off two walks in the last of the ninth to escape without a run scoring and closed the game out.

Collectively, the Dodger staff limited Washington to four hits, including a pair of doubles.

Los Angeles improved to 7-10-1, winning their first game under Tommy Lasorda's watch.

The Dodgers host the Florida Marlins today (Sunday) in the penultimate game in Holman stadium, barring contractual/construction problems in the Dodgers new training site at Glendale, Arizona. Dodgers right-hander Derek Lowe will face Marlins young left-handed ace Andrew Miller.
 Score by innings
Los Angeles	000 222 000-6
Washington	000 000 100-1

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Pierre lf	4  0  0  0  .186	
Furcal ss	4  0  1  2  .269
Loney 1b	4  1  1  0  .289
Martin c	1  2  0  0  .219
 Bennett c	1  0  0  0  .250
Ethier rf	4  1  3  4  .300
DeWitt 3b	4  0  0  0  .250
Repko cf	2  1  1  0  .276
Maza 2b	        4  1  1  0  .111
Penny p	        1  0  1  0  .500
 Saito p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Tomlin ph	1  0  0  0  .000
 Proctor p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Seanez p	0  0  0  0  .000
  Totals	30 6 8 6
  Washington	39 1 4 1

 Error- DeWitt (1). 2b hits- Loney 
(5). HR- Ethier (4). RBI- Ethier 4 
(10), Furcal 2 (9). S- Penny.
CS- Repko (1). DP- Maza and Loney. 
DeWitt, Maza and Loney.

 Los Angeles	in  h  r-er bb so  era
Penny	        5.0  1  0-0  2  1  0.90	
Saito	        1.0  0  0-0  0  0  0.00
Proctor	        2.0  3  1-1  1  3  3.60
Seanez	        1.0  0  0-0  2  0  0.00
 T- 2:56. Att- 4,309.
Loaiza's Spot to Lose
Dodger pitching coach Rick Honeycutt cut right through the mystery that surrounds the fifth starting spot in the rotation.

"That's Esteban's job for somebody else to take from him," he said. "That's his spot until someone can prove they're better than him."

Among the challengers Jason Schmidt's right shoulder won't let him throw a pitch in anger by opening day.

A fringe element wants soon-to be-19-year-old Clayton Kershaw but prudence dictates that the kid season just a bit more in the Minors.

Then the cable from China indicates that Chan Ho Park, who made only one Major League start last season, started against San Diego and finally allowed a run in his five innings of work.

But, reading the message further, we see the run was unearned so Park, with a glistening 0.00 earned run average over 12 innings, is the only thing keeping Loaiza from claiming the prize.

LaRoche Returns
Andy LaRoche is back in Dodgertown with his right hand wrapped with a white bandage. His sense of humor wasn't damaged in the accident. "Opening jars is kind of tough," LaRoche joked. He can remove the cast in two and a half weeks after doctors reattached a ligament in the thumb, and told him he would need eight to 10 weeks to fully recover.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Infielders Jeff Kent and Tony Abreu were "optioned" to the minor leagues for a day so they could get multiple at-bats, sometimes even hitting in every inning. Abreu had an operation to repair a sports hernia in October, and Kent had a slight hamstring pull that the Dodgers opted to treat with a couple of weeks of rest. ...Tommy Lasorda has announced on his website that he has renamed Chad Billingsley the Pitbull. "He has as good stuff as you'd want to see in a young pitcher. I wouldn't even trade him for a power hitter because he can win games for many years to come," Tommy wrote.