February 14- Spring Training Notes #1

The Dodgers' brand new, state-of-the-art shared Spring Training facility, Camelback Ranch - Glendale officially opened for business today when Dodger Manager Joe Torre spoke to the squad assembled in a 1 p.m. meeting for all pitchers, catchers, and staff. Afterward, the gloves popped and cleats scraped for the first time in 2009 as the players in camp began their first official workout.

Over in the batting cage area, Jeff Weaver threw a bullpen in a Dodger uniform for the first time since 2005 and was joined by Eric Milton, Ramon Troncoso, Jason Schmidt, Chad Billingsley, Edgar Martinez, Carmen Cali, Stephen Randolph, Shawn Estes, Jesus Castillo, Justin Orenduff, Jacobo Meque, Victor Garate, Erick Threets, Brent Leach, and Nick Debarr. It's a mere 50 days until Opening Day, April 6, when the Dodgers visit Petco Park to take on the San Diego Padres.  

Dodger catcher Russell Martin caught a few bullpens today, but was held back from running due to a slight strain in his left foot suffered a few days ago. Dodger starter Chad Billingsley showed reporters the scar from his November surgery that repaired a spiral fracture in his lower left leg and declared himself "ready to go." Billingsley said he had thrown off a mound about five times, working up to 40 pitches over the last few weeks. Today, the right-hander threw a bullpen and showed no ill-effects from the injury. For the time being, Billingsley will be limited during PFP.    

A contingent of Dodger Ambassadors visited Northridge Hospital in the San Fernando Valley and Valley Presbyterian in Van Nuys this afternoon and handed out Valentines to the pediatric wards that were signed by Dodger players and legends, including Brad Ausmus, Blake DeWitt, Andre Ethier, Hiroki Kuroda, James Loney, Mark Loretta, Russell Martin, Fernando Valenzuela, and "Sweet" Lou Johnson.    

The Dodgers would like to welcome former pitcher and Canoga Park native Randy Wolf back to the organization. Wolf signed with the club on Feb. 6, after going 12-12 in a career-high tying 33 starts last season. Randy wasn't the lone wolf today as CNN correspondent Wolf Blitzer was a guest of Dodger broadcaster Charley Steiner.   

Dodger Spring Training invitee Shawn Estes tossed his first bullpen this afternoon, meaning that "Mr. National League West" has now donned the uniform of every team in the division. The left-hander made it back to the big leagues with the Padres last year after undergoing Tommy John surgery in June of 2006. Estes, who ended up going 2-3 with a 4.74 ERA (23 ER/43.2 IP) over nine games (eight starts) last season, makes his offseason home in Paradise Valley, AZ about 40 minutes from Ballpark Boulevard/111th St.   

The Ballpark at Camelback Ranch - Glendale will have seating for 13,000, including 3,000 lawn seats (supposedly the wind blows out to left), 12 luxury suites, a party deck, a unique center field rotunda entrance, and to top it off, a two-acre lake stocked for fishing which essentially divides the complex between the Dodgers and White Sox. The park will be the largest in the Cactus League and is less than a six-hour drive from Dodger Stadium.    

In honor of today's holiday, here's a look at the Dodgers' All-Valentine's Day team, managed by former Dodger infielder and Japan league skipper, Bobby Valentine. Cracking the starting rotation is current Pitching Coach Rick Honeycutt along with Tom Candiotti, Spring Training invitee Travis Chick, Babe Birrer, Sweetbreads Bailey, Rosy Ryan
and Tom Lovett. The rest of the squad consists of Candy Maldonado, Bill W. Hart, "Sweet" Lou Johnson, Red Downs, Johnny Roseboro, Sandy Amoros, John Valentin, and former big league pitcher and current Dodger Special Assistant to the General Manager Vance Lovelace.

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