Spring Notes #3 - February 16

On President's Day the Dodgers' rolled through Day 3 of pitchers and catchers' workouts at Camelback Ranch - Glendale without a hitch. Dodger instructor and 1962 NL MVP Maury Wills led a couple of the groups in bunting and baserunning drills, while groups 1 and 2 fired their second bullpen sessions of the spring.

Mixed in amongst the PFP and conditioning drills were spirited games of pepper and rag ball, which challenges the reflexes of the pitchers on comebackers.

The pitchers throwing off the mound were 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, Jeff Weaver, and Nick Debarr. There are now just 48 days until Opening Day, April 6, when the Dodgers visit PETCO Park to take on the San Diego Padres.  

There was one new arrival on this President's Day morning, as incumbent second baseman Blake DeWitt. There are now just 48 days until made his first appearance at Camelback Ranch - Glendale.

Last season, DeWitt went from not even being invited to big league camp to the Dodgers' Opening Day third baseman. In 2008, the Sikeston, MO resident hit .264 with nine homers and 52 RBI in 117 games and just two weeks ago,

DeWitt was part of the 2009 Dodgers Caravan that visited City of Hope Hospital, Fernando L. Ledesma High School, the Temple City American Little League, and "L.A. Live" in Downtown Los Angeles.     

The Dodgers have five players currently in big league camp that will be participating in the second World Baseball Classic. Closer Jonathan Broxton will be on the United States' squad, Russell Martin will catch for Canada, shortstop Ivan DeJesus Jr. is on the Puerto Rican roster, non-roster invitee Brian Mazone is slated to pitch for the Italian team, and non-roster outfielder Val Pascucci is also playing for Italy.

In addition, Dodger minor league catcher Kenley Jansen will catch for the Netherlands. During the 2006 Inaugural World Baseball Classic, the Dodger representatives were Hong-Chih Kuo and Chin-lung Hu, (Chinese Tapei), Olmedo Saenz (Panama), Jose Cruz, Jr. (Puerto Rico), Odalis Perez (Dominican Republic), and Jae Seo (Korea).  

A good number of Dodger players, coaches, and front office staff took in the NBA All-Star Game held at US Airways Center in Downtown Phoenix.

Among those that saw Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal win the co-MVP Award, were Dodger Manager Joe Torre, pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, bullpen catcher Mike Borzello, Matt Kemp, Juan Pierre, Danny Ardoin, Dodger broadcaster Charley Steiner, Dodger Vice President of Communications Josh Rawitch, Manager of Team Travel, Scott Akasaki, baseball operations staffer Chris Romanello, and clubhouse stalwarts Alex Torres, Jose "Peps" Castillo, and Gabriel Esparza-Torres.  

Dodger non-roster invitee Charlie Haeger is in the right spot as the lone knuckleballer in the Dodger organization. Haeger can lean as much as he wants on the expertise of Dodger Single-A Inland Empire pitching coach and former Dodger great Charlie Hough.

Haeger, who has worked with Hough in the past, comes to the Dodgers after spending the previous eight years in the White Sox organization and one month on the San Diego Padres roster.

In 2006, Haeger led the International League in wins (14) and ranked fourth in ERA (3.06), and strikeouts (130), while pitching for Triple-A Charlotte. The right-hander is a native of Livonia, MI, which is where Dodger bullpen coach Ken Howell makes his offseason home.  

The Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox will be the third and fourth professional sports teams hosted by Glendale, AZ in its' sports and entertainment district, joining the Arizona Cardinals and Phoenix Coyotes.

Glendale is the fourth-largest city in Arizona, boasting more than 250,000 residents, and is also home to the Fiesta Bowl, the 2009 NCAA Men's Regional Final, and is the future home of USA Basketball.  

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