Dodgers Arriving at New Facility

Dodger owner Frank McCourt says it is the finest spring training facility in all of baseball and the Dodgers pitchers and catchers have found that out by this time as they reported to take routine physical exams.

The club has eight practice fields to work out on for each club and the new facility will be officially turned over to the Dodgers and White Sox today (Saturday). Until then, each club can pick and choose which field to use.

Let's get this out of the way first.

The Manny Ramirez serial, the longest-running show in Major League Baseball, is still the same performance every day. Yes, we want Manny, the Dodgers say. Yes, we are still negotiating. No, there has been no action taken by either side. No, there doesn't seem like there is any rush on the Ramirez/Boras side of the table to get something done soon.

If nothing changes, Juan Pierre will be the starting left fielder, with both Adam Dunn (Washington) and Bobby Abreu (Angels) finally under contract.

Dodger competition will be centered mainly on who will become the fifth starter, a starter that will be needed in the first week of the season due to a schedule change.

Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, Hiroki Kuroda and Randy Wolf, not necessarily in this order, are locks for the 1-4 slots. The the veterans Claudio Vargas, Jason Schmidt, Shawn Estes, Eric Milton and possibly Jeff Weaver will be joined by youngsters James McDonald, Ramon Troncoso, Eric Stults and perhaps Scott Elbert.

On the tip sheet, Vargas is a slight favorite because he was signed this winter to a $400,000 contract. But one-year contracts don't become guaranteed until late March, and the club can take a look at all the contenders before making a decision.

Schmidt, Milton and Weaver didn't pitch in The Show last season and the odds are against Stults, Estes and Milton because the club may not want three left handers in the rotation. Troncoso will be in the bullpen if he doesn't make the rotation, and apparently they are thinking the same about McDonald, who will be a long reliever if pitching coach Rick Honeycutt has his way.

The regular lineup is pretty much determines: C Russell Martin, 1B James Loney, 2B Blake DeWitt, SS Rafael Furcal, 3B Casey Blake, RF Andre Ethier, CF Matt Kemp and Pierre or Ramirez in left.

Veteran Mark Loretta has one of the backup slots guaranteed and the second could go to veteran Juan Castro or a healthy Tony Abreu.

One More Reliever?
Tony Jackson of the L.A. Daily News reports that Ned Colletti has narrowed down the search for a veteran reliever to three free agents but that there is no movement in the negotiations for the trio of Dennys Reyes, Jamey Wright and Will Ohman.

"I think some of the minor-league free-agent signings we have had the last couple of weeks ... will give us numerous choices," he told Jackson. "With the conversations we are having with major-league free-agent relievers, we are not prepared to go forward with that at this point."

?John Hayman's Daily Scoop reports that Dodgers owner Frank McCourt say he isn't opposed to doing nothing and instead waiting for the trade deadline. Ramirez's heroics may be working against him. However, most seem to still believe McCourt will bend on Manny and go to three years. While Manny may not quite pay for himself, the impact on ticket sales and the L.A. market was huge.

Buster Olney's ESPN Blog-- Said the the Yankees have spent $441 million on free agents this offseason. The Cubs rank second, having spent just over $88.4 million. The next six teams after the Yankees and Cubs ranked by spending are the Braves, Mets, Dodgers, Phillies, Angels and Giants. They've combined to spend $432,730,000 on free agents -- $8.27 million less than the Yankees.

Dodgers President Jamie McCourt is one of three candidates for the 2009 WISE Women of the Year Award, a prestigious honor that recognizes three extraordinary women who have made a significant impact on the business of sports and events. These women were recommended by the WISE Board of Directors. The winner will be honored at the 15th Anniversary WISE Women of the Year Awards Luncheon to be held on Wednesday, May 27, 2009, at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City.

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