Spring Training Notes #4 - February 17

Dodger pitchers and catchers today took the field for Day 4 of workouts at Camelback Ranch – Glendale. The pitchers in Groups 1 and 2 worked on pickoffs and defending suicide-squeeze bunts, while Groups 3 and 4 worked on more rag ball and pepper after throwing their second bullpen session of the spring. Pitchers in Groups 1 and 2 will throw their third bullpen session tomorrow.

    All 35 pitchers currently in camp worked on their offensive game as well, going through bunting and baserunning drills. The catchers, meanwhile, took batting practice after catching the pitchers' bullpen sessions.  

Dodger first baseman James Loney and minor league infielder Ivan DeJesus Jr. walked into the Camelback Ranch – Glendale offices this morning, reporting a day early.  The 24-year-old Loney led the Dodgers with 90 RBI in 2008. And who can forget his fifth-inning grand slam that erased a 2-0 deficit in Game 1 of the Division Series against the Cubs? 

DeJesus Jr. is rated by Baseball America as the No. 6 prospect in the Dodger system. In 2008, he batted .324 with a .419 on-base percentage in 128 games with Double-A Jacksonville to earn Dodger Minor League Player of the Year honors.  

Special Advisor to the Chairman and Hall of Fame Manager Tommy Lasorda today arrived at Camelback Ranch – Glendale for his first full day of spring. Tommy originally took a tour bus to the site on Wednesday to show fans just how close the campus is to Los Angeles, but quickly scooted off to Mexico City the next day to help promote the World Baseball Classic and the upcoming first-ever Mexican League game that will be played at Dodger Stadium on May 16. 

Tommy will be traveling to each host city of the 2009 World Baseball Classic to promote the upcoming tournament. While in Mexico City, Lasorda hosted a youth baseball clinic, signed autographs, and threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Liga Olmeca, a Mexican youth baseball league.  He also visited a local hospital and the Centro Nacional de Alto Rendimiento, an elite Mexican sports academy. 

He dined at the home of Carlos Hermasio, Mexico's Minister of Sports.  Lasorda is also planning on visiting Toronto, San Juan, Miami, and Washington D.C., where he will be a guest of Ambassador Fujisaki of Japan. Lasorda has either played or managed in 14 of the 16 countries participating the World Baseball Classic.  

There are 10 players who are new to the 40-man roster since the end of the 2008 season, including five who are new to the organization: Brad Ausmus, Mark Loretta, Guillermo Mota, Claudio Vargas, and Randy Wolf. Do note, Mota and Wolf had previous stints with the Dodgers.  The other five players are farmhands Jesus Castillo, Victor Garate, Jamie Hoffman, Brent Leach, and Travis Schlichting, all of whom were added to the 40-man roster in November to protect them from being selected by other teams in the Rule 5 Draft.  

The Dodgers' 40-man roster consists of 19 players who are 26 years old or younger, including 10 who have Major League service time with the Dodgers under their belt. Who is the youngest player in camp?  That distinction goes to lefthander Clayton Kershaw, who turns 21 on March 19.  

Who is the oldest player in camp? That honor goes to catcher Brad Ausmus, who turns 40 on April 14. Ausmus ranks second among active catchers with 1,887 games behind the plate, trailing only Ivan Rodriguez (2,175). He ranks eighth on the all-time list. Ausmus is a three-time Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner, earning the honor for National League catchers while with Houston in 2001, 2002, and 2006.  

There are 36 pitchers in camp vying for 11 or 12 spots on the 25-man roster. The list includes 20 on the 40-man roster and 16 non-roster invitees. There are 15 left-handers and 21 right-handers in camp.  The totals do not include Mark Loretta, who appeared in one game with Milwaukee in 2001. In that June 20 game at Cincinnati, he struck out two batters in a scoreless eighth inning in an 11-3 Reds blow-out win. In fact, he issued a two-out walk to current Dodger non-roster invitee Juan Castro.  

Dodger Spring Training invitee right-hander Edgar Martinez was a catcher for the first five-plus seasons of his pro career. He moved to the mound in the middle of the 2004 campaign, and has gone 16-13 with a 3.45 ERA in 176 games since that time.

The 27-year-old worked as a starter for the first time in his pitching career during the second half of 2008, going 7-2 with a 3.28 ERA (29 ER/79.2 IP) in 16 starts with the Red Sox' Triple-A Pawtucket club.