" and whether Jason Schmidt's journey will bring him back to the mound in Dodger Blue or not, he took another step recently and threw a bullpen. He threw 20 pitches, rested for four minutes, then threw another 20 pitches."> " and whether Jason Schmidt's journey will bring him back to the mound in Dodger Blue or not, he took another step recently and threw a bullpen. He threw 20 pitches, rested for four minutes, then threw another 20 pitches.">

Cleaning Off My Desk on an Open Date

The Chinese have a saying, "The longest journey begins with a single step>" and whether Jason Schmidt's journey will bring him back to the mound in Dodger Blue or not, he took another step recently and threw a bullpen. He threw 20 pitches, rested for four minutes, then threw another 20 pitches.

What should be made of it? "I have no idea," Schmidt told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. "I don't want to try to assess anything after what happened two weeks into Spring Training."

A simple bullpen doesn't sound like much, but if he has progressed to the point of throwing off a mound, it is a pretty big thing. Ten months after major shoulder surgery and a month after a Spring Training setback, he's making progress.

Kuroda To Start Tonight
Hiroki Kuroda will be making his regular-season debut tonight in San Diego after moving from stardom in Japan to fourth starter in Los Angeles. Kuroda has a lively splitter and he knows how to pitch. But his command this spring was inconsistent and he sometimes was puzzled with a strike zone that varied from what umpires called in Japan. His most recent start was his best, four hitless innings against the Red Sox.

?The rest of the rotation: Saturday: Dodgers (Brad Penny, 1-0, 0.00) at Padres (Jake Peavy, 1-0, 0.00).
?Sunday: Dodgers (Derek Lowe, 0-0, 3.00) at Padres (Chris Young, 1-0, 1.59).
?Monday: Dodgers (TBD) at Diamondbacks (TBD).

DeWitt No. 1 Long-shot
Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com lists the top 10 long shots in the early going of the 2008 season and at No. 1 is third baseman Blake DeWitt. After three games the rookie is 5-or-9, (.546) and fielding like a vacuum sweeper.?

Crasnick wrote:

"Remember how Shea Stadium used to be known as a revolving door for third basemen? Now it's Chavez Ravine. Over the past five seasons, Adrian Beltré, Bill Mueller, Jose Valentin and Wilson Betemit, along with DeWitt, have started on Opening Day for the Dodgers.

"DeWitt ranked well down manager Joe Torre's depth chart upon arrival at spring training. But when Andy LaRoche and Nomar Garciaparra landed on the disabled list, opportunity knocked. In his Dodgers debut Monday, DeWitt singled off Barry Zito in his first career at-bat, walked twice and scored two runs in a 5-0 victory over San Francisco.

"In the 2004 draft, the Dodgers picked DeWitt and fellow Missouri native Scott Elbert in the first round. Former big league outfielder Mitch Webster, now a Dodgers scout, signed both players. According to Orange County Register columnist Mark Whicker, Webster refers to them as the "Missouri Mules."

"While DeWitt hits from the left side, one scout said his full-fledged devotion to baseball is similar to the Mets David Wright."

"I loved him when I saw him in high school," the scout said. "He wanted to hit all day, and he'd do anything the scouts wanted him to do. He's sort of a baseball rat."

DeWitt has his teeth in an opportunity now, and he has a chance to make a big impression if he's ready to seize the moment.

Helms in Dodgers Future?
Wes Helms was designated for assignment by the Philadelphia Phillies and is expected to be released in 10 days. Does this move him a step closer to becoming available to fill the Dodgers' vacancy at third base?

Guerrero Returns
Former Dodger Pedro Guerrero was in attendance during the recent home stand, visiting from Miami, FL. Guerrero was shown on DodgerVision in the fourth inning to a loud ovation and before the game.

He visited with his former manger, Joe Torre who managed Guerrero in St. Louis from 1990-92. April 3rd marks the 34-year anniversary of one of former Dodger General Manager Al Campanis' finest deals.

On April 3, 1974, Campanis shipped left-hander Bruce Ellingsen to the Cleveland Indians for Guerrero. Ellingsen appeared in 16 big league games, all in 1974.

Guerrero went on to become a four-time All-Star with the Dodgers from 1978-88, while finishing in the Top-5 of the NL MVP vote on three separate occasions. The native of the Dominican Republic also won the 1981 World Series Tri-MVP, along with Ron Cey and Steve Garvey.    

HGH Does Not Enhance Performance
This interesting and while it is not about the Dodgers, we thought we'd pass it on.
There's apparently no published evidence that growth hormone enhances athletic ability, and in fact it may hobble it, according to a review published online by Annal of Internal Medicine.

Examining 44 published studies involving some 300 recipients of growth hormone, researchers found that although the substance increased lean body mass, biceps and quadriceps strength did not improve. In fact, elevated lactate levels - a measure of exhaustion and decreased stamina - were actually more common in those taking growth hormone.

The researchers say that the paradox of decreased exercise capacity in the face of increased lean mass may be explained by the fact that measures of lean mass may actually be capturing fluid retention and not increased muscle. They comment that the doses used in real-world settings may be much higher than those studied in the literature, and they warn about the drug's documented adverse effects, even at research-level doses.

The study authors' conclusion is worded this way:

?Conclusion: Claims that growth hormone enhances physical performance are not supported by the scientific literature. Although the limited available evidence suggests that growth hormone increases lean body mass, it may not improve strength; in addition, it may worsen exercise capacity and increase adverse events. More research is needed to conclusively determine the effects of growth hormone on athletic performance.

Beltré Injured
The Mariners announced that Adrian Beltré has evidence of an old injury to the radial collateral ligament at the base of the left thumb. Since Beltré throws right, it is supposed that he suffered this injury from one or more fielding attempts where the thumb of his glove struck the ground forcing his thumb toward the index finger.

Examining Beltré's performance both before and after this ailment it can be seen that his productivity is about the same, indicating that while he has pain and perhaps some mild disability from that old injury he can still play and still produce.

Martinez Down with Pulled Hammy
Former Dodger and future Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez had a tough debut for the Mets in the second game of the season. He was tagged with four early runs to the Marlins and then exited the game with a left hamstring injury.

Martinez was sing a fastball that topped out at 88-89 miles and Dan Uggla and Luis Gonzalez smacked homers when he left pitches over the heart of the plate.

On a fourth-inning pitch, he grabbing his leg as the training staff rushed to the mound. Martinez limped off the field and will reportedly head to New York for an MRI, with manager Willie Randolph reporting "He said he felt a little twinge or pop," Randolph said. "That's not always good, but we'll let it calm down and get an MRI."

He was placed on the disabled list and will be unable to pitch for two weeks.