Furcal frustrated by spring scuffles
Dodgers hitting coach Mattingly sees improvement
PHOENIX -- Don't like seeing that .196 Spring Training batting average next to the name of Rafael Furcal?Neither does he. "I don't know what's the matter," said the 32-year-old shortstop and leadoff hitter. "It's not like I don't work hard. I see the ball good, my back is fine. It's a little bit frustrating. I don't understand. Maybe I struggle now and start the season hot." Furcal also has committed five errors in 21 games, but as the leadoff hitter assigned to set the table for the likes of Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Manny Ramirez, it is Furcal's offense that makes him a unique player. He has one extra-base hit and one stolen base. "He doesn't use his hands enough, he's not relaxed enough, he tries to muscle everything," said general manager Ned Colletti. "He made the adjustment late last year. He relaxed and used his hands." Hitting coach Don Mattingly said he's noticed recent improvements in Furcal. "I'm not worried about Raffy," Mattingly said. "The last few days his work's been good. He feels better about his swing, and that usually means it's coming."
Dodgers sell Stults' contract to Japan
PHOENIX -- Eric Stults has pitched in China and Taiwan, but he's hoping to make his next Asian baseball trip more than just a brief visit.
The Dodgers sold Stults' contract to the Hiroshima Carp of the Japan Central League this week. Stults, who was officially released Wednesday, left the Dodgers on Tuesday and drove home to Indiana. He'll pack up his family and leave next week, having been briefed on his new team and league.
"I enjoyed the Taiwan and China goodwill trips, but I'm a little more excited about this," said Stults. "Japan is a lot more westernized, there are more Americans there. I talked with Hiroki Kuroda, who played for Hiroshima, and he told me some of the basics and said if I had any questions when I'm there, just to e-mail Kenji Nimura [Kuroda's interpreter] and he'd get back to me. He said they have a great stadium, great fans, a manager he respects and they treat the players well. I think I'll enjoy it."
The 30-year-old Stults, drafted in 2002, figured this week it was time for a change after first hearing of Japanese interest over the winter. Out of options, he saw he wasn't going to be the Dodgers' fifth starter, and the inquiries from Japan had renewed.
He came to a quick agreement, accepting a one-year deal for 75 million yen (about $804,000) plus incentives, nearly double the $410,000 he would have earned if he spent the entire 2010 season in the Major Leagues. The club also has a 2011 option, and the Dodgers received several hundred thousand dollars as compensation.
Stults will receive a severance of $125,000, with the Dodgers realizing a savings of $375,000 from his $500,000 salary."Financially, it is a boost for us," said Stults, who will take wife Stephanie, 4-year-old daughter Madeline and 20-month-old son Luke. "I talked to six or seven guys who have played over there, and I got no indication from anybody that they didn't like it. They all loved it.
"We're going excited about the opportunity to get a fresh start and a chance to experience a different culture. It's something new, a once-in-a-lifetime experience that few people get. I could have stayed, gone through waivers. Being bounced around as many times as I have, it's been really hard on the family the past couple years. This gives us a little security and stability to stay in one place for a while."
Dodgers reassign Knoedler to Minors
PHOENIX -- The Dodgers made one move after Wednesday's game, reassigning veteran catcher Justin Knoedler to Minor League camp.The 29-year-old Knoedler has had three previous Major League stints with the Giants. The Dodgers still have four catchers with them -- Russell Martin, Brad Ausmus, A.J. Ellis and JD Closser.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.