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DeWitt Plays Waiting Game; Kuroda Sharp in Minor League Tune-up

Dodgers (10-11-2) at Indians (15-6-2)

7:05pm, Goodyear Ballpark, Goodyear, AZ

Joe Torre said he won't make the announcement on his fifth starter until the team gets back to Los Angeles starting Thursday, adding that he has a good idea who the fifth starter will be but still "had work to do with the other guys" in the bullpen.  Torre did say the club would likely start with 11 pitchers, noting that the club would need a fifth starter four times in April.  However, he also said the club would use 12 pitchers most of the year, not surprising since the Dodgers didn't use fewer than 12 pitchers at any point last season.

Torre did say something else that was rather puzzling, as reported by Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times:

I'd say if we have an 11-pitcher scenario that Blake DeWitt's chances are better.

The bench, as I see it, will include Reed Johnson, Garret Anderson, Brad Ausmus, and Jamey Carroll.  That's four guys, so with a 12-man pitching staff there would be room for one more on the bench, who would be Ronnie Belliard or DeWitt, whomever isn't starting on any given night.  This bench presumes Carroll will be the backup shortstop.  The only way there wouldn't be room for Blake DeWitt on the major league roster in this scneario would be to make room for a designated shortstop like Nick Green, who has a career .307 on-base percentage in 1,108 plate appearances.

You have to take spring stats with a grain of salt, but DeWitt has been hitting all spring, to the tune of .367/.456/.592.  Including tonight, DeWitt will have started 18 out of a possible 24 Cactus League games.  Factor in that two of his missed games were on split squad days, and DeWitt has started at second base this spring 18 out of 22 opportunities.  I have seen quote after quote from Torre this spring praising DeWitt all spring, mostly of the "he has done everything we have asked, he hasn't hurt himself" variety. 

The Dodgers have given DeWitt every opportunity to win the second base job, and DeWitt has seized that opportunity.  Management seems quite pleased with his efforts.  But they seem to be bending over backwards to find reasons to not name DeWitt the starter at second.


Hiroki Kuroda threw seven innings in a minor league game this afternoon against the Reds.  He allowed just one run, on a home run, while striking out seven batters, throwing 91 pitches.  Kuroda, who Torre called "very comfortable to watch," is scheduled to pitch next on Saturday at Dodger Stadium against the Angels.  With a scheduled off day Sunday, and tonight's starter Chad Billingsley scheduled to pitch before Kuroda, on April 8 in Pittsburgh, I am guessing Saturday's game will feature a Billingsley / Kuroda tag team on the mound.

Russell Martin caught all seven of Kuroda's innings, his second straight day catching seven innings.  After back-to-back days, Martin won't make tomorrow's trip to Tucson.  "I'll leave him back here tomorrow to get his work in with a lot of the regulars. He'll get some running in because he didn't get much in during the game today," said Torre, "He'll catch Padilla here on Wednesday, him and Ausmus will split that game."

Here are the lineups.  The Indians are using a designated hitter, but the Dodgers are not:for

Dodgers      Indians
SS Furcal SS Cabrera
2B DeWitt CF Sizemore
RF Ethier LF Brantley      
LF Manny DH Hafner   
CF Kemp 3B Peralta
3B Blake 1B LaPorta
C Ausmus 2B Valbuena
1B Closser C Toregas
P Billingsley       RF Crowe

Jonathan Broxton, Jeff Weaver, and Luis Ayala are also scheduled to pitch for the Dodgers tonight.  Justin Masterson is pitching for the Indians.

Pitchers for tomorrow's game in Tucson are Eric Stults, Josh Lindblom, and Ramon Troncoso.  Lindblom today won the Jim and Dearie Mulvey Award, given annually to the top rookie in Dodgers' camp, as voted on by Dodger coaches.