McDonald Makes First Spring Start

RHP James McDonald today makes his sixth appearance and first start of the spring, replacing RHP Hiroki Kuroda, who will start the Triple-A game against the Brewers at at Camelback Ranch – Glendale. McDonald was named the Dodgers' Minor League Pitcher of the Year in both of the last two years.

  The 23-year-old, who was selected by Los Angeles in the 11th round of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft, went a combined 7-4 with a 3.26 ERA in 27 games (26 starts) with Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A Las Vegas in 2008.

The Dodgers currently have 48 players in big league camp, including RHP Jonathan Broxton and INF Luis Maza, both of whom are on leave to participate in the World Baseball Classic.  Among the 48 players are 24 pitchers, including 14 right-handers and 10 left-handers.  There are 16 non-roster invitees still in camp, including 10 hurlers.

SPRING TRAINING, FOR REAL: Today is the first full day of spring, and the Dodgers kick the tires and head to Goodyear to square off against the Cleveland Indians for the first and only Cactus League game featuring the two teams.  Do note that the Vernal Equinox, the exact start of spring, actually occurred yesterday at 8:44 p.m. while the Dodgers were on their way to a 9-4 loss against Kansas City in Surprise.  The Dodgers are in the midst of playing three of four on the road and five of seven away from the Ranch, stretches that began last night in Surprise.  The Boys in Blue tomorrow play host to the Rangers at Camelback Ranch – Glendale, a game that can be seen live in Los Angeles on KCAL9, as well as heard on KABC and KHJ.     

                                                                                           ROTATION SET: Manager Joe Torre on Wednesday announced the pitching rotation for the 2009 regular season, and RHP Hiroki Kuroda will get the ball Opening Day, April 6 at San Diego.  Kuroda will be followed by LHP Randy Wolf, RHP Chad Billingsley, and LHP Clayton Kershaw.  The fifth starter's spot is still up for grabs, and Billingsley will start the home opener, April 13 at Dodger Stadium..   

  HE'S BAAAACK: INF Doug Mientkiewicz yesterday returned to game action after missing the previous four games with a sore left quad.  He entered last night's game at Kansas City in the sixth inning at first base, and went 0-for-1 with a walk at the plate.  The 34-year-old signed a minor league deal with an invitation to Major League Spring Training with the Dodgers on February 26.   

CHANGES IN LATITUDES: Right-hander Jonathan Broxton earned the win in Tuesday's do-or-die game with Puerto Rico in the second round of the World Baseball Classic.  The victory put Team USA in tomorrow's semifinal against Team Japan at Dodger Stadium.  Broxton has made four appearances in the WBC, and has allowed a run and three hits while striking out four in 4.0 innings of work.  The semi-finals and finals of the World Baseball Classic will be played at Dodger Stadiumthrough Monday.   

MARCH MADNESS: Dodger alma maters are a resounding 5-1 through the first round of the NCAA Basketball Tournament.  Andre Ethier's and Mitch Jones's Arizona State Sun Devils defeated Temple yesterday, and will play Syracuse tomorrow for a Sweet-16 bid.  Eric Milton's Maryland squad put a hurtin' on Cal on Thursday.  The Terrapins will play Memphis today for the right to play in the Sweet 16 in nearby University of Phoenix Stadium.  Josh Lindblom's Purdue Boilermakers defeated Northern Iowa on Thursday, and will battle with Washington for a Sweet-16 spot at UOP Stadium.  Purdue and Maryland could meet in the Elite Eight one week from today for a spot in the Final Four.  Stephen Randolph and his Texas Longhorns had an opening-round win over Minnesota on Thursday, and today will play Duke for a spot in the Sweet 16.  Valentino Pascucci's Oklahoma Sooners took care of Morgan State on Thursday, and today go toe to toe with Michigan.  The lone first-round loser was Doug Mientkiewicz, whose Florida State Seminoles lost a heartbreaker to Wisconsin last night.  

CHECK OF THE LEADERBOARD: INF Blake DeWitt and OF Xavier Paul are tied for the team lead with 10 RBI.  OF Mitch Jones, meanwhile, carries a team-leading four home runs into today's contest in Goodyear.  1B/OF Valentino Pascucci ranks second on the club with three home runs.  Paul also leads the Dodgers with 17 hits, and INF Juan Castro ranks second with 15.  As a team, the Dodgers rank fifth among National League teams with 22 home runs.  They are also tied for third among NL squads with 126 runs scored.   

UPCOMING PITCHING PROBABLES: Sunday, March 22 vs. Texas- LHP Randy Wolf, RHP Guillermo Mota and RHP Cory Wade.