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Day of Departure: Dodgers Leave For Taiwan; Nomar Retires

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Diamondbacks (2-5) at Dodgers (ss) (1-3)

12:05pm, Camelback Ranch, Glendale, AZ

The Dodger travel contingent left for Taiwan this morning, embarking on a precisely planned 15 hour, 33 minute flight.  Those that stayed behind in Arizona will be managed by Don Mattingly, the heir apparent to Joe Torre's managerial throne, whether after 2010 or, more likely, 2011.  

Mattingly, who met with Frank McCourt, Ned Colletti, and team president Dennis Mannion this winter, seems very comfortable with his future, whatever it might hold.  "They expressed that they wanted me to be a part of their future. Yes, the word manager was brought up," Mattingly said, "I like it here. I like California. Nothing definitive was said or done.  I'm not worried about money or things like that right now.  I'm worried about our ballclub and soaking up as much as I can."  Torre is under contract though the end of this season, but has been discussing a one-year extension off and on all winter with the Dodgers.

Hong-Chih Kuo will start Sunday's game in Taiwan for the Dodgers.  Charlie Haeger was originally slated to start Sunday, but was a late scratch due to a strain in his lower back and hip region.  Mattingly said Haeger felt better today, and thought he might be able to throw in "a couple days".  Scott Dohmann took Haeger's place on the Taiwan roster.

Doug Mientkiewicz, who has battled shoulder issues and received a cortisone shot this week, will get the first crack at first base today, starting in the absence of the internationally traveling James Loney.  Mattingly said Garret Anderson is ready to play, and might see some action at first base, a position he has never played in the majors.

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Old friend Nomar Garciaparra retired today, signing a one-day contract with Boston to retire with the Red Sox, his original team and where he spent the bulk of his career.  However, Dodger fans remember him for his 2006 heroics.  Nomar hit a whopping .358/.426/.578 before the All-Star break that year.  He faded precipitously in the second half (.229/.286/.408 after the break), but still provided some magical moments, perhaps inspiring a young Andre Ethier, who was a rookie that season.  Nomar had four walk-off hits in 2006:

  • May 5 vs Brewers: a one-out single in the ninth off Matt Wise brought home Rafael Furcal with the winning run to beat Milwaukee 4-3
  • May 6 vs Brewers: one night later, same situation, this time against Chris Demaria, Nomar's single scored Kenny Lofton from second to win 5-4.
  • September 18 vs Padres:  Nomar hit a two-run homer off old and future friend Rudy Seanez to turn a 10-9 deficit into an 11-10 win.  Nomar became the "plus one" in the 4+1 Game.
  • September 24 vs. D-Backs:  Nomar hit a tie-breaking grand slam off Luis Vizcaino, the first game of a season-ending seven-game winning streak

Jay Jaffe, of Baseball Prospectus, recalled the 4+1 Game on his website, The Futility Infielder, back in 2006, a moment Jaffe called this morning "one of my most memorable moments in 30+ years as a Dodger fan." Thanks for the memories, Nomar.

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Tony Jackson of ESPN L.A. got the reaction of many Dodger legends to yesterday's passing of Willie Davis.

Here are the lineups, which feature an old friend at an old position, with Tony Abreu playing shortstop and leading off for Arizona.  Matt Kemp takes over the cleanup spot for the Taiwan-bound Manny Ramirez:

D-Backs                 Dodgers
SS Abreu SS Furcal
CF Parra 2B DeWitt
LF Jackson RF Ethier
3B Reynolds      CF Kemp
C Montero DH Giles
DH Snyder LF Johnson     
RF Macias 1B Mientkiewicz
1B Ryal 3B Green
2B Ojeda C Ellis
P Haren P Padilla

Scheduled to pitch for the Dodgers today behind Padilla are Ramon Ortiz, Eric Gagne, Jeff Weaver, and Justin Miller.

The scheduled hurlers to follow Haren for Arizona are Wes Roemer, Chad Qualls, Zach Kroenke, Josh Ellis, and Bob Howry.  Ellis is the younger brother of the Dodgers' catcher (thanks to Tony Jackson for that tidbit).

Tomorrow, when the Dodgers travel to Surprise to play the Royals, the probable pitchers are James McDonald, Russ Ortiz, Ramon Troncoso, Travis Schlichting, Javy Guerra, and Armando ZerpaGil Meche is slated to start for the Royals.

TV: Prime Ticket (KABC's Ken Levine is handling the play-by-play)

Gameday