01/30/2003 4:04 pm ET
Dodgers Spring Training Rundown
A hopeful spring after a number of roster moves
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
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92-70, third in NL West
2002 Hitting Leaders
(min. 200 at-bats)
BA: Alex Cora, .291
OBP: Shawn Green, .385
SLG: Green, .558
Runs: Green, 110
RBIs: Green, 114
Hits: Green, 166
2B: Paul Lo Duca, 38
3B: Dave Roberts, 7
HR: Green, 42
SB: Roberts, 45
2002 Pitching Leaders
(min. 30 IP)
IP: Odalis Perez, 222 1/3
W: Hideo Nomo, 16
L: Andy Ashby, 13
Win %: Eric Gagne, 4-1, .800
S: Gagne, 52
ERA: Gagne, 1.97
K: Nomo, 193
K/9: Gagne, 12.46
WHIP: Gagne, 0.86
Projected Starting Lineup
CF Dave Roberts
C Paul Lo Duca
RF Shawn Green
1B Fred McGriff
LF Brian Jordan
3B Adrian Beltre
2B Joe Thurston/Alex Cora
SS Cesar Izturis/Alex Cora
1. Hideo Nomo
2. Odalis Perez
3. Andy Ashby
4. Kazuhisa Ishii
5. Kevin Brown or Darren Dreifort
LH setup man: Pedro Borbon
RH setup man: Paul Quantrill
Closer: Eric Gagne
Spring Cleaning: five pressing questions that need to be answered
1. Are Kevin Brown, Darren Dreifort, Kazuhisa Ishii and Andy Ashby healthy?
Nobody really knows. Brown says he is, but that's what he said last year. Dreifort hasn't thrown a pitch that counted in 1 1/2 years. Ishii was shaky before having his skull fractured. And Ashby has recurring infected blisters.
2. Will there be a left-hander in the bullpen?
Maybe not. The candidates are Rule 5 acquisition Derek Thompson, and a group brought in on minor league contracts of Pedro Borbon, Troy Brohawn and Yorkis Perez.
3. Is rookie second baseman Joe Thurston ready to start in the big leagues?
Possibly not, which is why Jim Tracy plans to use a middle-infield committee of Thurston, Cesar Izturis and Alex Cora in a rotation. Thurston will be a good test of how much progress really has been made lately by the farm system.
4. Will Jim Tracy keep three catchers?
Probably, with rookie David Ross being the best catch-and-throw back-up to Paul Lo Duca. That way, Todd Hundley can provide a deep threat off the bench and there will still be protection for Lo Duca in the late innings.
5. Who bats clean-up? Both McGriff and Jordan want the spot behind Shawn Green, and who could blame them? Tracy would prefer to alternate left-right-left with Green-Jordan-McGriff, but the concern centers on Adrian Beltre's ability to protect McGriff. If he can't, McGriff would follow Green.
New Faces: players acquired via trade or free agency
1B Fred McGriff -- A 39-year-old hired gun with proven 30-homer ability, so he'll be an upgrade offensively at first base, but his defense won't be any better than Eric Karros.
OF Daryle Ward -- Bad body, live bat. And while he wants to start, he might be one of those hitters who are most effective when not overexposed. If he breaks through and realizes his potential, the Dodgers control him for three years.
C Todd Hundley -- He was run out of town last time, and now he won't be playing much. But he hit 41 home runs once, so he can at least be a left-handed threat off the bench.
LHP Wilson Alvarez -- A $35 million bust in Tampa Bay, he gets $750,000 if he makes the team. The former White Sox ace is reunited with Dan Evans, who sees Alvarez as this year's Omar Daal.
INF Terry Shumpert -- Possesses the versatility that the manager loves, and if his knee is healthy, he can be an asset on the bases as well as in the field.
Long Gone: players lost via trade or free agency since last season
1B Eric Karros -- The first-base fixture seemed to lose his skills with age and injuries. There also was tension with the manager, so it was time to move on.
2B Mark Grudzielanek -- He made a lot of money but wasn't anything special in any skill. His tendency to pop off in the media didn't score him any points, either.
OF Marquis Grissom -- He was a pro on the field and in the clubhouse. The Dodgers will miss his live bat and leadership, especially as a role model for the kids.
LHP Jesse Orosco -- His departure leaves the Dodgers with no veteran left-hander in the bullpen. One of the more curious off-season decisions.
INF Dave Hansen -- One of the best pinch-hitters in history, but he was better last year when in the lineup. Despite the bat, he wasn't a lot of help in the field.
LHP Omar Daal -- He was never happy as a swingman, but those 161 quality innings will be hard to fill, especially if Brown or Dreifort aren't healthy.
Returning from Injury
RHP Kevin Brown -- He's 38 with three victories and two surgeries since Sept. 2001. Forget the money. Can he still pitch? The Dodgers aren't sure, but they learned last year to ignore what Brown says and watch what he does. Didn't they?
RHP Darren Dreifort -- The Dodgers are acting confident about Dreifort, a bold stance considering he hasn't been healthy for two years and was a losing pitcher even when he was healthy.
LHP Kazuhisa Ishii -- He's said to be physically fine after his skull was fractured by a line drive, but the psychological scars won't be known until the first line drive is hit his way in Florida.
OF Brian Jordan -- He had a monster September, but the rest of the year proved a difficult transition and now he's 36 coming off major knee surgery.
New Kids on the Block: prospects to watch
2B Joe Thurston -- His breakout Triple-A season earned a shot at a job, but he probably will start in a platoon until he proves he deserves a job outright.
LHP Derek Thompson -- A Rule 5 acquisition, he would have to be lights-out in camp to win a job.
RHP Alfredo Gonzalez -- A darkhorse bullpen candidate who has moved steadily through the system.
OF Wilkin Ruan -- Maury Wills' newest project, he has center-field tools but the Expos gave up on him pretty quickly.
C David Ross -- Has to play his way off the team as the best catch-and-throw backstop on the Major League roster.
On the Rebound
Andy Ashby -- He pitched in some bad luck, but he rebounded better from elbow surgery than Brown and if he had just a little of Brown's cockiness, he'd be even better.
Paul Shuey -- He struggled adjusting to National League hitters and the Dodgers gave up a bunch to get him. He could make the Dodger bullpen overwhelming, sharing set-up duties with Paul Quantrill.
The Bottom Line
For all of the roster tinkering, it comes down to the starting pitching. If Brown and Dreifort combine for three wins again, the Dodgers will be playing for third place again.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.p>