Notes: Roster hopefuls impressive
Bigbie the hitting star, White shines in relief in Dodgers' win
VERO BEACH, Fla. -- Jason Schmidt threw two scoreless innings Friday, but the $47 million free agent's Dodgers debut was overshadowed by a pair of non-roster players fighting for career survival.
Outfielder Larry Bigbie was the hitting star in a 12-7 win over Washington with two homers, a double and five RBIs, while reliever Matt White looked like a billion dollars retiring all four batters he faced with a strikeout.
Bigbie is trying to cash in on a return to health, while White set aside the commotion stirred from his sudden off-the-field wealth to set down the Nationals. Bigbie, once a starting outfielder for Baltimore, dealt with a foot fracture in 2006 and surgery for a hernia that had been bothering him for two years.
"This is great, but it's one day," said Bigbie, who also homered in Wednesday's intrasquad game. "I was with the Cardinals last year and watched them win the World Series, and it kind of hurt watching, but it lights a fire to get back and be part of that."
Although the Dodgers' outfield appears set with starters Luis Gonzalez, Juan Pierre and Andre Ethier and reserve Jason Repko, Bigbie could force his way onto the bench with continued power from the left side. The only established left-handed hitter likely to make the club, Marlon Anderson, is nursing a sore elbow. James Loney, who also bats left-handed and is in contention for a bench role, had a two-run double.
"This guy's got a lot of talent," manager Grady Little said of Bigbie. "He's just had a series of bad injuries. For a new guy, he's certainly put himself on the map in a strong way early in camp. A lot of things can happen in a month."
Bigbie has been under the radar in this camp, while the media have been in scramble mode over White, a sudden international celebrity since word of his 12-million-ton rock quarry made the rounds, from CNN to CNBC to the Associated Press and soon to be featured in the New York Times.
He showed in this game, as he said a few days earlier, that he can also pitch.
"Regardless of whatever is happening outside baseball, I'm being evaluated every day on pitching, and it's been up to me to keep my focus and get batters out," White said. "I hope all this dies down. I never signed up for all this, for it to take off like it has, my head is spinning. I never wanted it to become a distraction."
White might be a longer shot to make the Opening Day roster than Bigbie because of pitching staff depth, but there's always a place for a left-handed pitcher who can get outs. White doesn't throw hard, but he's added a sidearm delivery, still has an effective slider and he's confident enough despite bouncing around for a decade.
"He's got decent stuff and he's not scared to challenge any hitter," said Little, who managed White briefly in Boston in 2003. "It didn't look like the distractions affected him."
Speaking of distractions: Joe Beimel made his first game appearance since his regrettable bar injury helped undermine the Dodgers' playoff chances last year.
Beimel allowed two hits, but pitched a scoreless ninth inning with the assistance of a double-play grounder. Although he pitched well enough last year to more than double his salary and would seemingly have a spot on the staff, he said he's not taking anything for granted.
"I thought I had a job with the Pirates in '04 after three straight years there, and they cut me the day they would have had to guarantee my contract," said Beimel. "This is definitely a different situation, but I went in relaxed that spring, hurt my back, tried to come back too soon and didn't pitch well. I don't think I'm taking Spring Training lightly."
Beimel wrapped up 5 1/3 scoreless innings by Dodgers relievers. Following White were two innings by winning pitcher Greg Miller, one inning by Rudy Seanez (in Eric Gagne's familiar No. 38), then Beimel.
Schmidt pleased: The Dodgers' new starter was effective, if not flawless, allowing two hits and two walks with one strikeout in two innings and 26 pitches.
"It felt like two innings of Spring Training," he said. "In Arizona, it's so dry, your change-up slips out of your hand and the breaking ball doesn't really do anything. Here, everything comes out good. It's like reality."
Hendrickson struggles: Sabotaged by a pair of errors that led to a five-run inning, Mark Hendrickson was charged with seven runs (five earned) in 1 2/3 innings following Schmidt. Hendrickson is a candidate for the fifth-starter job with Hong-Chih Kuo, Brett Tomko and Chad Billingsley.
"I was better in the second inning, as far as sharpness," said Hendrickson, who threw 50 pitches, a high figure for the first spring outing. "I felt strong for the amount of pitches I threw. I have to stay focused on what I did good and what I did bad, regardless of the results."
Injury update: Anderson apparently will be out longer than originally indicated, as the club is concerned that the flare-up of his surgically repaired right elbow could recur with overuse.
Anderson, who underwent surgery to remove bone chips in October, irritated soft tissue by throwing and hitting too much.
"He'll have to get to where he can swing the bat with no aggravation to the elbow before he plays," Little said.
Anderson said he had the same surgery 10 years earlier and had the same setback then, too.
"I threw too much and that irritated it, which made it painful to swing," he said. "I'm glad they understand it might take a little time and aren't pushing me to come back too fast."
Signed, sealed: All remaining unsigned Dodgers came to terms and the club did not unilaterally renew anyone.
Player found: The Dodgers held an open tryout Thursday. After 75 attendees were whittled down to 25 players for a simulated game, 19-year-old Venezuelan shortstop Charlie Mirabal was signed to a contract and will report to Dodgertown on Friday.
Grab a book: Current Dodgers Randy Wolf, Rafael Furcal and Loney read to local schoolchildren Friday morning as part of the National Education Association's 10th annual Read Across America program. In Los Angeles, former Dodgers Al Downing, Wes Parker, Bobby Castillo, Ken Landreaux and Joe Moeller were guest readers in the program, which was sponsored by The Dodgers Dream Foundation and the California Teachers Association for the second consecutive year.
Coming up: The Dodgers travel to Port St. Lucie on Saturday to face the Mets, with Brad Penny and Hong-Chih Kuo opposing Mike Pelfrey.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.