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Alex Verdugo to join Team Mexico for exhibition in Japan

Exhibition games on Nov. 10-11 at Tokyo Dome

Minor League Baseball: Arizona Fall League-Scottsdale Scorpions at Glendale Desert Dogs
Alex Verdugo takes a break from the Arizona Fall League to play for Team Mexico in Japan.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES — Dodgers outfielder Alex Verdugo was originally on the roster for the Fall Stars Game in the Arizona Fall League on Saturday night, but was replaced on the roster this week because he’s headed to Japan.

Verdugo will play for Team Mexico in a pair of exhibition games against Japan next week on Nov. 10-11 at the Tokyo Dome, in a World Baseball Classic tuneup of sorts. International sensation Shohei Otani is on Japan’s roster for those two games, making the exhibitions even more interesting.

Verdugo after the exhibition games will return to the Glendale Desert Dogs and finish things out in the Arizona Fall League, which concludes play on Nov. 19.

In the Fall Stars Game on Saturday at Surprise Stadium (televised on MLB Network at 5 p.m. PT, available online at, Dodgers Cody Bellinger and Willie Calhoun are both in the starting lineup for the West roster.

Bellinger plays first base and bats second, while Calhoun plays second and bats eighth.

Player development additions

The Dodgers have added a pair of former pitchers to their ever-evolving player development department.

Brandon Gomes, 32, pitched for the Rays from 2011-15, and pitched in Triple-A Iowa in the Cubs system in 2016. He joined the Dodgers in September as pitching coordinator of performance, and explained his role to Greg Sullivan of the Herald News in Massachusetts.

Gomes described his job as being on the “conceptual side.” He doesn’t suit up and supervise bullpen sessions. But the duties, he described, cover a wide spectrum. He helps prospects with getting information on how pitches work, on how to sequence their pitches. He might devise precisely what a pitcher should do with his off-day throwing, his offseason throwing. He lets a pitcher know what he needs to improve on, how his stuff compares to other pitchers, the most effective way to improve arm strength and arm durability.

Another addition is Chris Fetter, who will also work with minor league pitchers. Fetter pitched in the Padres system from 2009-12, then worked as a scout for the Angels from 2013-15. Fetter turns 27 in December.

He was the pitching coach at Ball State this season.

Rick Knapp was the Dodgers’ pitching coordinator for the last four years, but has left to take a new position with MLB.