Notes: Robles moves up to bigs
Dodgers second baseman gets a shot at third
ST. LOUIS -- On Sunday, Oscar Robles was playing second base for the Mexico City Red Devils in the coal-producing city of Saltillo, Mexico.
Tuesday night, he was the Dodgers' starting third baseman against the St. Louis Cardinals.
"I am so happy," said the 29-year-old native of Tijuana, who prepped in San Diego.
Drafted as a shortstop in the third round by Houston in 1994, he made it as high as Triple-A for two games in 1997. But stuck behind shortstops Carlos Guillen and Julio Lugo in the Astros system, his career was derailed when he dislocated his ankle in 1998 and missed the entire 1999 season.
Healthy in 2000 but unwanted north of the border, he hooked on in the Mexican League and pretty much fell off the radar of Major League teams. He had one chance in 2002 when the Oakland A's and then assistant general manager Paul DePodesta brought him to Spring Training on loan from Mexico.
While there, his rights were dealt from one Mexican team to another that had a relationship with the San Diego Padres, so he was forced to leave the Oakland camp and spent one week with the Padres before returning to Mexico.
He's played there the last five years, with batting averages of .348, .296, .348, .309 and .382. Los Angeles' Mexico scout Mike Brito pushed to bring him to Spring Training and he hit .438, but when he didn't make the Opening Day roster, he had to be returned to Mexico.
"It's been kind of frustrating," Robles said. "I know I might be better or on the same level as other guys from the Mexican League, but they might be luckier. I've been hitting good every year and they won't give me that chance. I thought after last year, that was my last chance to get to the big leagues."
His Mexican team would agree to sell his contract only if he was brought to the Major Leagues and, after the serious injury to Jose Valentin and the disappointment of Norihiro Nakamura, the Dodgers finally made that promise this week, purchasing him for an undisclosed figure in excess of $100,000. Robles was batting .390.
"Maybe this is the right moment for me to be here," said Robles, a third baseman for three years in Mexico who has split time between third and second base the last two years.
Repko reeling: Rookie Jason Repko made it look easy hitting .325 in the spring to win a roster spot and kept it going the first two weeks of the season as Jayson Werth's outfield replacement, hitting .308 with three homers in his first 26 at-bats.
But since Apr. 18, Repko is 4-for-34 and his average has plunged to .200. He knows Werth is on a rehab assignment and when healthy, the Dodgers will be looking for a roster spot.
Repko said he knows what's wrong.
"Plain and simple, the only answer is that I'm thinking too much," he said. "When you're going good, you don't think about anything and you see every pitch. I want to do so good and I'm pushing so hard that I'm up there thinking about everything. I'm thinking about my feet and my hands and my load instead of relaxing and making it simple. You can't think and play. I know what I'm doing wrong. Now I've got to change it."
Nakamura accepts assignment: Infielder Norihiro Nakamura, designated for assignment on Sunday night by the Dodgers to make room for Robles, notified management on Tuesday that he would accept an outright assignment to Triple-A Las Vegas if he clears waivers.
Nakamura, a Japanese home-run champ and multiple Gold Glove winner, was hitting .128 with no home runs when he was removed from the roster. At the time, Nakamura said he needed to speak with his agent and family before making a decision.
It is assumed Nakamura will not be claimed off waivers because of his struggling offensive performance against Major League pitching and his $550,000 salary.
Gagne update: Closer Eric Gagne pitched another perfect inning on Tuesday night in Memphis, his second rehab appearance for Triple-A Las Vegas.
Gagne struck out two and recorded a fly-ball out, making 14 pitches. In his appearance on Sunday, he struck out all three batters he faced.
He is expected to make a two-inning appearance on Thursday night, rejoining the Dodgers in Los Angeles on Friday upon which time he may be activated.
Also in rehab news from the game, infielder Antonio Perez hit a three-run home run, but Werth went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.
Shelby still out: First-base coach John Shelby missed his second game while attending to a family illness. Bench coach Jim Lett again was in the first-base coach's box.
Coming up: In the third game of the series, Brad Penny will make his fourth start. He will bring a streak of 13 consecutive scorelsss innings. He has been charged with four earned runs, two scoring in his first inning this year on a home run by Preston Wilson at Coors Field, the other two reaching base on infield singles and allowed to score by the bullpen after Penny left the game.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.