The Real Stuff Begins

Now the real games begin. After a winter of attention on steroids and things not so good for baseball, the focus shifts to real play on the field.

For the Dodgers, it's clear that Juan Pierre is the fourth best outfielder,both offensively and defensively on the team. How manager Joe Torre handles that fact will be one of his first tests.

It's also clear the Dodgers do NOT have any third baseman who has the expectation of 20, much less 30, homers at the corner power position. At least any healthy one.

Outfielder-infielder Delwyn Young, who came into the spring with a near lock on a roster spot (because he is out of options) has in effect played himself OFF the roster.

Outfielder Jason Repko, healthy again, started out without a really good chance to make the big league club only to play himself onto the team. Can't the kid start taking emergency balls at third?

While Chan Ho Park and Esteban Loaiza have done well, the simple fact is the Dodgers are hoping they can get by with mirrors or whatever until Clayton Kershaw, already ready, is recognized as such by the brass.

Loaiza and Park are more of the past than the present while Kershaw is the future if not the present.

ARIZONA vs VERO: The king is dead, long live the king. While us East-coasters are in mourning, there is clearly excitement by LA fans to have the team closer to them in Arizona, as witness the almost instant good press over the move.

Here around Vero, we are still "sitting shiva" (the seven days of obligatory mourning after a loved one passes away).

The sands of time have passed over "Dodgertown" and it is a sad thing indeed.

NOTES: The Mets sent Olmedo Saenz to their minor league camp...Jason Schmidt is light years away from being able to take a turn in the rotation. Every day he doesn't pitch makes his acquisition a year ago look lousier and lousier. Between Pierre and Schmidt, the Dodgers have well over $20 million a year tied up and narry an arm to show for it. ...Both managers Trey Hillman in Kansas City and Joe Girardi in Yankee Stadium have clearly injected enthusiasms in their new squads. The Dodgers decided to go with tried and true, although they did try to sign Girardi before Joe Torre.

(Ed note:)-- Ray and his wife Valentina have left for Europe tomorrow to their home on the black sea. He will be sending at least a weekly piece. And he adds "While we have a slimmer staff, you'd have to say our geographical coverage is unparalleled." We wish him God Speed.