Catching Up From a Long, Cold Weekend

With the temperature here in this lonely Balkan outpost, and the wind blowing 35-40 mph, it is almost colder than Candlestick Park on a July night game. Catching up from the weekend, we can report of Hiroki Kuroda declining to play for Japan in the World Baseball Classic; Baltimore deciding not to move to Vero Beach and Bryan Morris undergoing surgery on his toe.

Kuroda pulls out of WBC
Dodgers pitcher Hiroki Kuroda has decided not to play for Japan at the World Baseball Classic, saying he wanted to save himself for the major league season. Kuroda, included on Tatsunori manager Hara's 34-player list of candidates, called the Japanese manager to inform him.

The 33-year-old righty said he had trained for the tournament, in which Japan is the defending champion, but said it would be tough to be at his best for the event to start March 5 at Tokyo Dome.

"Because I'll have trouble with the scheduling, I have to put priority on training for my club's opening day," Kuroda was quoted as saying.

"The decision is very disappointing for Japan but I think he [Kuroda] thought it over and over and made his decision," said Hara from Hawaii where the Giants are commemorating their Central League pennant.

The Giants won the CL but came up short in the Japan Series, losing in seven games to the Seibu Lions.

Hara said he would not be replacing Kuroda and that the remaining 33 players were scheduled to attend a training camp in Miyazaki starting on Feb. 15.

Tony Jackson of the Los Angeles Daily News reports that he walked to Dodgers trainer Stan Conte. He was told Kuroda is undertaking a strengthening program for his right shoulder but the success of this program depends upon his staying on a regular routine with it all the way through the end of spring training.

Conte did say that Dodgers officials never specifically told Kuroda he should skip the WBC. But they certainly are happy to hear that he plans to.

Oriole Won't Move to Vero Beach
The Baltimore Sun reports that the Indian River County Board of Commissioners is expected to vote to terminate a negotiating agreement and rescind an offer that could have made the vacant Dodgertown facility in Vero Beach, the Orioles' new spring training complex.

Commissioner Peter O'Bryan said the county thought it was close to an agreement a few weeks ago, but the club made an unacceptable proposal. "I'd say it was an extreme counteroffer," said O'Bryan. "We'd be looking at weeks or maybe months more of negotiating. And nobody found that palatable."

Adhering to a confidentiality agreement, O'Bryan would not reveal specifics of the Orioles' proposal, but Vero Beach Mayor Tom White said: "There was a bunch of [issues] on there. Some of them opened my mouth, and I went, 'Huh? They want what?'" O'Bryan wouldn't dismiss the possibility of future negotiations with the Orioles but said the county will pursue other options, including landing another big league club.

Morris has Surgery
Pirates righthander Bryan Morris had surgery to repair a ligament in his right big toe and will miss at least the first month of the 2009 season, the Pirates report. The 21-year-old Morris joined the organization at the 2008 trade deadline in the three-team deal that brought Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers.

The Dodgers selected Morris out of Motlow (Tenn.) CC with the 26th overall pick in the 2006 draft, but he struggled with his control in his debut, walking 40 batters in 60 Pioneer League innings. Following the season, he had Tommy John surgery that knocked him out for the entire 2007 campaign.

Morris returned to the mound in April 2008 to pitch effectively for Great Lakes. He went 2-4, 3.20 with 72 strikeouts and 31 walks in 82 innings before his trade to the Pirates. He made three mostly ineffective starts for low Class A Hickory after the trade.

LA Dodgers Insider Top Stories