Schmidt Looking Like He Might Pitch Again

Stop me if you have heard this before. Right-hander Jason Schmidt, who has appeared in only six games for the Dodgers since signing a three-year, $47 million contract two winters ago, is reported to have a good chance of being ready to start spring training alongside the club's healthy pitchers.

Schmidt is currently playing catch at 75 feet near his home in Scottsdale, Arizona, and he is expected to step up to long-toss in December and throwing off a mound in January.

Barring a setback, the program has Schmidt on track to be ready to go by the start of spring training and possibly be ready to start one of the Dodgers' first five regular-season games, something he hasn't done since he underwent major surgery on his right shoulder in June 2007 to repair a frayed biceps tendon and a torn labrum and remove scar tissue.

Schmidt underwent an arthroscopic procedure on Sept. 10, 2008, to have more scar tissue removed. That operation came in response to the fact Schmidt could never quite get past what team medical officials termed "90 percent" in his rehabilitation program. The surgery did reveal that his labrum had completely healed.

One club official said Schmidt looks more comfortable simply throwing a ball now than he has at any point since the first surgery.

Notes and Quotes
--RHP Yhency Brazoban reportedly hasn't lost much, if any, of the weight club officials were hoping he would. However, Brazoban is throwing off a mound at the Dodgers' complex in the Dominican Republic after finishing the season on the 60-day disabled list, and his shoulder apparently is fine. Brazoban, who filled the closer's role for a while in 2005, has appeared in a total of nine games for the Dodgers over the past three seasons.

--INF Tony Abreu, who finished the season on the 60-day disabled list, is able to take part in all drills at the Dodgers' Dominican camp. He is expected to begin playing in the Dominican Winter League in December, and he should be ready for spring training.

--RHP Mario Alvarez still hasn't begun throwing as he tries to come back from a stress fracture in his elbow. He was activated from the 60-day disabled list earlier this month, but only as a procedural move, and he is only now coming to the end of what was expected to be a two- to three-month recovery. Alvarez made 10 starts at Class AA Jacksonville this season, going 1-5 with a 7.08 ERA.

--LHP Brent Leach, who split the season between high Class AA and Class AA, was one of five players the Dodgers recently added to the 40-man roster to shield them from the Rule 5 draft. Leach had a combined 15 saves in 49 appearances this season for Inland Empire and Jacksonville. He struggled in the Arizona Fall League, posting an 8.80 ERA in 10 relief appearances while giving up 23 hits in 15 1/3 innings.

--OF Jamie Hoffmann had a solid Arizona Fall League campaign. He hit .314 in 10 games while posting a .432 on-base percentage. Hoffman, who hit 10 homers and drove in 71 runs for Class AA Jacksonville this season, was added to the 40-man roster and will go to spring training as a dark-horse candidate for the Opening Day roster as a fourth or fifth outfielder.

By the Numb3rs 20 -- Players on the Dodgers' current 40-man roster who have one year or less of major league service time, including 10 players who have never spent a day in the majors. Of the club's returning everyday position players, five of them -- Russell Martin, James Loney, Blake DeWitt, Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp -- have less than three years of big-league time.

--Former Dodgers infielder (2001) was signed as first base coach for Boston.

Quote of the Week: "Many had thought the Dodgers would be into CC Sabathia big-time, but as several baseball people have pointed out, the Dodgers statements on Manny Ramirez indicate that the McCourts still are trying to bring the Dodgers' revenue streams into the 21st century. And with holes to fill at second, short, third, the starting rotation and in the bullpen, there are a lot of concerns to address. Sabathia is not an egomaniac. He puts family first, winning second and everything else falls in behind. The union is not interested in family or winning, only getting top dollar, and for Sabathia to turn down top dollar from the Yankees may be very difficult." Peter Gammons, ESPN Blog.