40-Man Roster Helps Decide Cuts

Six Dodgers were clipped from the roster and sent to the minor leagues after Saturday's game with Milwaukee and, surprisingly, Jeff Weaver will open the season at Albuquerque.

The Dodgers sent shortstop Chin-lung Hu, pitcher Eric Stults, catcher A.J. Ellis and outfielders Jason Repko and Xavier Paul to Triple-A along with Weaver to Triple-A and retained left-hander Will Ohman, who was scheduled to get in some innings before returning to Los Angeles.

That brings the roster down to 30 and the club has until noon today to submit a tentative 25-man squad to the league offices. They can amend the roster before they open the season Monday in San Diego.

Weaver, who is with the club for the second time in his career, was to be the long reliever but posted a 7.20 ERA in 10 spring innings and the Dodgers decided to give him more work in the minors.

"We've asked him to extend a little bit," Torre said. "We want him to become a long man or a spot starter. He was obviously disappointed. He was worthy of making this club, but again, we're on the limited side in terms of 40-man spots."

The decisions seem to depend on how many 40-man spots the Dodgers want to use. For example, if it comes down to Blake DeWitt and Juan Castro for the last spot, DeWitt would be favored because they don't have to clear a 40-man spot for him.

With five more cuts to make, Doug Mientkiewicz, Blake DeWitt and Juan Castro are battling for two infield spots. Mientkiewicz, who has been fighting the flu for a couple days, will probably make the team.

In the bullpen department, Ramon Troncoso, Josh Lindblom, Tanyon Sturtze, Ronald Belisario, Brian Mazone and Erick Threets will be condensed into two relief spots.

Troncoso and Belisario seem to be the favorites, but Mazone has been solid and boasts the lowest ERA in camp (1.13 mark) with rookie Lindblom close behind at 2.00. Sturtze and Threets struggled in their last outings and will likely will begin the season in the Minors.

Outfielder Delwyn Young and pitchers Jason Schmidt and Claudio Vargas are expected to begin the season on the disabled list.

The starting rotation became set when Torre announced that James McDonald will make his first Major League start next Friday. He will join right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, left-hander Randy Wolf, right-hander Chad Billingsley and left-hander Clayton Kershaw on the staff.

McDonald, who is 2-2 with a 5.03 ERA in eight Spring Training appearances, will start today against the Giants in the Dodgers' last exhibition game.

Apparently McDonald beat out Eric Stults, who tossed four innings solid against the Brewers, allowing three runs (one earned) on four hits.

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