The Dodgers beat the Brewers today 7-3 at Camelback Ranch, but most of today's news came off the field.
On a day that the Dodgers chose Cousin Oliver as the best male child on The Brady Bunch over Greg, Peter, and Bobby, it was revealed that opening day starter Vicente Padilla has been pitching all spring with forearm stiffness, says Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. Perhaps the key revelation was that Padilla also pitched last spring with the same ailment while with Texas. The less Padilla emulates his Texas days, the more like an opening day starter he becomes.
Ronnie Belliard had 825,000 reasons to get down to 209 pounds at some point this spring, and he did, weighing in today at 208 pounds, per Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times. By achieving his weight goal this spring, Belliard's $825,000 contract is now guaranteed.
Russell Martin, saying he "felt like himself today," caught four innings in a minor league game in Surprise against the Rangers. He had two hits, including a double, and scored a run following his single, so he got to test his legs today, running with that groin injury. "He looked very normal to me. I didn't see any hesitation in anything he tried," said manager Joe Torre, who also cautioned, "we have to wait until we see how he feels tomorrow." If he has no symptoms Friday morning, he will catch six innings in the Triple A game against the Reds at Camelback Ranch. Plus, he will get to bat leadoff in all of his six innings, in an only-in-spring-training maneuver. Martin sounds like someone preparing to play opening day. Per Hernandez:
"I feel good right now, so I don't know why I wouldn't feel good on opening day," Martin said.
Casey Blake had three hits against Milwaukee, leading a seven-run, 11-hit attack. The top six in the starting lineup -- Rafael Furcal, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Manny Ramirez, James Loney, and Blake -- each scored one run.
Josh Towers gave up three runs in his five innings, but also struck out four while not issuing a walk.
Before the game, Torre said Carlos Monasterios would pitch one inning today, if at all, noting his ability to also pitch out of the bullpen. Monasterios didn't pitch, but fellow fifth starter candidate Ramon Ortiz did, but he also only threw one inning (he did have two strikeouts, pushing his spring total to 19 in 14 innings). With Eric Stults' seemingly permanent residence in Torre's doghouse and Charlie Haeger held out of most games because of conditions unfavorable to his knuckler, might the fifth starter job come down to...
I don't even want to say it. I will let Tony Jackson of ESPN LA articulate our worst fears:
If Ortiz and Monasterios are out of the running for fifth starter -- both, however, are looking like locks for the bullpen -- that leaves Russ Ortiz as the clear leader in the race. He has a 2.08 ERA in four appearances this spring.
Beth Harris of the Associated Press brings us the best news of the day:
Don Newcombe addressed the Dodgers in the morning about how alcoholism affected his life. The only player to ever win Rookie of the Year, the MVP and Cy Young awards in his career, Newcombe is now a special adviser to owner Frank McCourt. "He just talks about the emotion of what he’s gone through in his life, being broke and determining one day that he wasn’t going to drink anymore," Torre said. "He hasn’t had a drink in 47 years."
The Dodgers play the Royals Friday at Camelback Ranch, a game televised on Prime Ticket. Padilla gets the start, and will be followed by Jonathan Broxton and George Sherrill, each working on back-to-back days for the first time all spring, and Jeff Weaver. At least one reader will be delighted to find out that pitching for the Royals tomorrow will be none other than Zack Greinke (or is it Granick?).