Jon Link happy to be a Dodger

All it took was the rumor of an offseason trade between the Dodgers and White Sox for pitcher Jon Link to do some research on his potential new organization. The right-handed reliever, who was not among the White Sox's September call-ups, saw an Internet update on his cell phone that the Dodgers were about to send outfielder Juan Pierre to Chicago.

"I called my agent and said, 'Hey, am I in the Juan Pierre deal?'" Link said. "As soon as he said he would find out, I started to poke around and see what I could find about the Dodgers organization hoping that I would be in the trade because this is simply one of the best organizations in all of pro sports."

Link's instincts were correct. He is now a Dodger and stands a solid chance of making the opening-day roster. Even though the back end of the Dodgers bullpen is loaded with guys such as Ronald Belisario, Ramon Troncoso and Cory Wade, Link made a solid case for himself by going to Venezuela to play winter ball. As fate would have it, he was on the same team as Belisario. If Link learned anything, it was the confidence he will need to carry to spring training.

"(Belisario) is an intimidating presence," Link said. "When he walked into the locker room in front all of the young guys, the room just went silent. He's a fiery competitor with ice water running through his veins."

Link showed some of that fire too. In 15 appearances with Tiburones de La Guaira, Link went 2-0 with eight saves and a 2.95 ERA.

NOTES, QUOTES


--RHP Chad Billingsley was the first of the Dodgers' arbitration-eligible players to reach a deal with the club. The 25-year-old signed a $3.85 million one-year contract, a substantial raise over the $475,000 he made in 2009. Billingsley was 9-4 with a 3.88 ERA while being named an All-Star, but he stumbled to a 5.20 ERA in the second half and did not win any of his last seven starts.

--CF Matt Kemp, in his first year of arbitration eligibility, agreed to a two-year, $10.95 million deal with the Dodgers. Kemp won Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards in 2009. While the contract gives Kemp the security of guaranteed money the next two seasons, it also affords the Dodgers a potential discount in 2011 if Kemp continues to improve as expected.

--INF Blake DeWitt participated in a 10-day January minicamp at Dodger Stadium that is actually designed for the organization's highly regarded prospects at Class AA or lower. DeWitt is looking to get in all the work he can in advance of spring training, where he will be the leading candidate to take over the starting job at second base.

--LF Manny Ramirez has owner Frank McCourt in his corner despite struggles last season. "I hope the wrist will be fine. He was banged up, and I'm sure it will be," McCourt told mlb.com. "Some of the fun was out of the game for him, and I hope it will be back and the results will return as well. Not that he didn't bring it upon himself. He did. But he has to move on, and I think he will."

BY THE NUMBERS: $150 million -- Amount spent to improve Dodger Stadium since Frank McCourt became owner six years ago. Despite plans to revamp the loge level and overhaul the cramped locker rooms this winter, the only improvement to the ballpark will be to add portable concession stands.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I was pretty satisfied with my numbers last year, but I'd have been more satisfied if we would have gotten to the World Series. So I guess I'm going to have to do better this year." -- CF Matt Kemp, to the Associated Press, after agreeing a two-year, $10.95 million deal.

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