Notes: Pierre might shift in the outfield
Below-average arm a big question mark for center fielder, team
LOS ANGELES -- For all the criticism aimed at Juan Pierre's play this year, his offensive production -- .293 average, .331 on-base percentage, 96 runs scored -- was just a shade under his career average and his 64 stolen bases were 10 higher than his average.
Defensively, however, the disregard for Pierre's throwing arm in center field is so widespread that extra bases taken by the opposition demoralize Dodgers pitchers. After the season finale, Pierre was asked if he was open to moving to left field and didn't sound thrilled with the idea.
"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," he said. "I don't know."
Asked if he would be more willing to move if he was making room for a Gold Glove center fielder like Andruw Jones, he said:
"We'll see. He's probably the best center fielder in the game. I'm not to his caliber."
Pierre said he played left field while in the Colorado Minor League system when Choo Freeman was the center fielder.
Spring Training update: Dodgers management has gone underground on the issue of the club's Spring Training move from Vero Beach, Fla. to Glendale, Ariz.
The move was announced effective for the 2009 exhibition season, but ground still has not been broken on the Glendale complex the Dodgers are to share with the Chicago White Sox. The clubs are hoping a governmental meeting in Glendale on Tuesday will clear the way for the start of construction.
Meanwhile, the uncertainty has left Vero Beach officials hamstrung as they try to negotiate with other Major League teams interested in moving into the Dodgertown training complex. Vero Beach cannot make any deal until it knows whether the Dodgers will need the facility for 2009.
Hillenbrand gone: Infielder Shea Hillenbrand joined Olmedo Saenz and Roberto Hernandez by electing free agency Friday.
Hillenbrand, 32, was signed after being released by San Diego and was promoted to the Dodgers when Nomar Garciaparra injured his calf. He hit .243 with one home run and nine RBIs in 20 games with the Dodgers.
Prospect update: Farm director DeJon Watson reports that pitchers Scott Elbert (shoulder) and Bryan Morris (elbow) are recovering from operations without setbacks and are participating in the Arizona Instructional League. He said Elbert has started tossing, while Morris (who had Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery late last year) is throwing 93 mph. Tim Hamulack, who had Tommy John surgery this year, also has begun playing catch.
Top pitching prospect Clayton Kershaw also is in Arizona working on secondary pitches, Lukas May is continuing to refine his catching skills and Preston Mattingly is working on second-base skills.
Stadium renovation: Demolition of the Field Level at Dodger Stadium took place this week, clearing the way for a $70 million renovation of the ballpark that will focus on bringing the concession stands and restrooms into the 21st Century.
Meloan honored: John Meloan, who earned a September Major League call-up on the strength of his season's work at Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A Las Vegas, was named Double-A relief pitcher of the year by MILB.com.
Meloan was 5-2 with a 2.18 ERA and 19 saves with 70 strikeouts in 45 1/3 innings for the Suns.
People's Choice: The Dodgers are nominated for the "Most Popular Team of the Year" in the eighth annual "El Premio de la Gente" award show broadcast on Hispanic TV Network Azteca America's 60 affiliates across the U.S., Mexico and Latin America. "El Premio de La Gente" nominations are open to the public for voting and for the first time in the award show's history, categories will be dedicated to professional sports in addition to music and entertainment.
Online voting for "El Premio de la Gente" begins Sunday on www.elpremio.tv. Winners will be determined through the month-long online voting open to the public through Nov. 14. Voting will commence with the "El Premio de la Gente" award show that will be held in Los Angeles on Nov. 15. Dodgers fans can tune into Azteca America locally on KAZA-TV channel 54 for the award show which will be broadcast on Nov. 25.
Dodgers in post-season: Dodgers Hall of Fame broadcaster Jaime Jarrin is doing postseason announcing for ESPN Deportes and coach Manny Mota is providing commentary on Fox en Espanol.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.