Carlos Monasterios earned a spot in the Dodger bullpen (Photo credit: Jon SooHoo / Dodgers)
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1:05pm, Dodger Stadium
Six weeks after pitchers and catchers reported to camp, the final exhibition game is finally here. There is only one more hurdle before opening day, and that is today's spring finale at Dodger Stadium between the Dodgers and Angels. The Angels lead the all-time exhibition series, 55-44-2.
The Dodgers' opening day roster is almost set, as Rule 5 pick Carlos Monasterios has made the club, according to manager Joe Torre. That leaves one position left on the opening day roster, likely between infielder (not to mention occasional center fielder and pitcher!) Nick Green and pitcher Russ Ortiz. That decision doesn't have to be finalized tomorrow, but will likely be announced after today's game, as the club is flying to Pittsburgh tonight in preparation for Monday's opener.
Torre said he envisioned the role for Monasterios would be like that of Ramon Troncoso at the beginning of last season, with the ability to pitch multiple innings out of the bullpen if needed (might we see another four-inning save?).
Like Monasterios, Ramon Ortiz was very excited when told he made the team. "You can see it in Ramon's face. He's worked so hard for this," Torre said, "He's like a kid again."
Torre said the decision to go with 11 or 12 pitchers has not yet been made, but noted that Charlie Haeger's ability to pitch as both a starter and reliever would help ease the burden of only having 11 pitchers. "Most of these guys in their final start are throwing 50-60 pitches, and Haeger the other night threw 100, and his arm wasn't even tired," Torre said. Haeger will be available to pitch in relief Monday or Wednesday in Pittsburgh, and will start either Saturday or Sunday in Florida.
Hong-Chih Kuo will make the road trip, but it is unsure whether or not he will pitch. If he is placed on the disabled list, as expected, it can be retroactive as far back as March 26, meaning the earliest he could pitch is Saturday in Florida.
Chad Billingsley and Hiroki Kuroda will each pitch today, in their final tuneups for the regular season. Both are expected to pitch about four innings, roughly 50-60 pitches each. Billingsley is scheduled to start Thursday in Pittsburgh, and Kuroda is slated to open the series in Florida on Friday.
Here are the lineups: