Starters have mixed results in finale
Kuroda finishes strong, Billingsley struggles vs. Halos
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers had mixed results on Saturday in the final tuneups for starting pitchers Chad Billingsley and Hiroki Kuroda.Billingsley, the announced starter for Thursday's game in Pittsburgh, was roughed up by the Angels for six runs on six hits and three walks. Originally scheduled to pitch four innings, he was removed after 2 2/3, having made 75 pitches. The big blow was a Kendry Morales grand slam in a five-run third inning. Billingsley's spring ERA finished at 4.67. Asked if there was reason for concern about Billingsley, manager Joe Torre said, "I hope not. It just looked like he got outside himself that one inning. His stuff was good, velocity good. He got ahead of a couple hitters and let them get away. He was more frustrated than we were." By contrast, Kuroda, the announced starter for Friday night's game in Florida, was dominant. After allowing a double to the first batter he faced, he retired the next 12 batters with five strikeouts. Kuroda's spring ERA finished at 1.96. "Pretty darn good," said Torre. "He had 51 pitches in four innings; can't do much better. He's had a great spring. If he's able to stay on the field and pitch as a regular starter, he could be something special."
Hu, Paul, Ellis sent to Albuquerque
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers optioned infielder Chin-lung Hu, outfielder Xavier Paul and catcher A.J. Ellis to Triple-A Albuquerque after Saturday's game with the Angels.Hu hit .281 this spring, Paul .266 (a homer and double Saturday), and Ellis hit .278. Ellis played in the most games of the three, as he was viewed as the catching replacement when starter Russell Martin suffered a strained hamstring early in Spring Training. It was initially believed Martin would not be ready for Opening Day, but he healed quickly and will start on Monday in Pittsburgh. Martin had two hits Saturday, only his fourth Major League exhibition game since the injury. "He may still be a little behind on the offensive side," manager Joe Torre said of Martin.
Monasterios makes roster
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers apparently will open the season with 12 pitchers, based on the player moves the club made Saturday and the actual movement of certain players afterward.Manager Joe Torre said Rule 5 Draft pick Carlos Monasterios had made the club, but he wouldn't announce the Opening Day roster until Sunday, when that roster must be submitted to Major League Baseball. However, after Saturday's final exhibition game against the Angels, non-roster pitcher Russ Ortiz was in his suit heading for the team bus to the airport and the charter flight to Pittsburgh, while non-roster infielder Nick Green was in jeans and preparing for a trip to Triple-A Albuquerque. Also headed to Albuquerque were infielder Chin-lung Hu, outfielder Xavier Paul and catcher A.J. Ellis. Keeping Monasterios almost assures that the Dodgers will keep 12 pitchers, even though Torre had been leaning toward keeping only 11. It's been management's desire all spring to hang on to Monasterios, who has had an impressive exhibition season despite pitching only two games above Class A. But, Rule 5 pitchers generally need to be used judiciously because of their inexperience. The ineffectiveness of George Sherrill and the absences initially of Hong-Chih Kuo (disabled list) and Ronald Belisario (restricted list) further leave Torre exposed in the bullpen, which was one of the team's strengths last year. Although the Dodgers have extra infielders in Jamey Carroll and Ronnie Belliard, neither has the shortstop experience of Green. Green indicated he would accept a Triple-A assignment and not exercise an opt-out clause that becomes effective on Sunday unless another club has a Major League spot open. Should Green find such a job, the Dodgers could keep him only by putting him on the Opening Day roster and going with 11 pitchers. "I pretty much told them I wouldn't opt out unless I have a big league job somewhere else, and I won't go back on my word," Green said. Ortiz has no opt-out, but he could refuse a Minor League assignment by retiring. Green's acceptance of a Minor League assignment allows the club to keep both players under control, maximizing its inventory of players. "I haven't even thought about that," Ortiz said on Wednesday when asked if he would go to Albuquerque. "I came here to make the club. I feel healthy and I'm throwing strikes." Torre said he would try to use Monasterios the way he used Ramon Troncoso at the start of the 2009 season. "He came with us, we didn't know what to expect," Torre said of Troncoso. "Gradually, he worked his way into a prominent role for us. That's probably what we'll do with Carlos. Somewhere in the middle [relief], to get his feet under him. "We like his variety, his fastball and changeup. The last couple of outings he's had an easy time. We'll take a look. We'll see." Monasterios had a 1.69 ERA in 16 1/3 innings over nine appearances this spring after being taken from the Phillies organization. He's 24, but he didn't pick up a baseball until he was 17. But he impressed the Dodgers as a starting pitcher in the Venezuelan Winter League. As a Rule 5 pick, Monasterios cannot be sent down to the Minor Leagues by the Dodgers without first being offered back to the Phillies, who likely would take him back. "I'm real happy, real excited," said Monasterios, who a year ago was opening a season at Clearwater in the Florida State League. "I thought I had a good chance. Everybody was telling me I had a chance to be in the Major Leagues. I just had to work hard. Last week in the clubhouse, all the lockers on both sides of me were empty. I just kept my head down so they wouldn't notice." Torre said that Belisario continues to train in Arizona, but has been limited to bullpen sessions with no time frame for a game appearance. He reported to Spring Training five weeks late because of visa problems. Kuo's elbow, Torre said, was improved, but he said the club "won't go crazy there" rushing him back. Kuo will continue to receive treatment with the Major League club. Sherrill's struggles continued on Thursday night, his first game in nearly a week. Sherrill has an ERA of 7.50 with 11 hits and seven walks allowed in six innings. He has been watching video and had another bullpen session Saturday morning as he works on a mechanical flaw.
Broxton isn't concerned with dip in velocity
LOS ANGELES -- Jonathan Broxton insists that 91-mph radar-gun reading on Friday night is no reason to panic."Everything's fine," said Broxton, whose fastball ranged from 91-95 mph against the Angels. "Nothing is hurting or sore. This is not the time to worry about velocity. I don't care about the numbers, as long as I feel good and the ball is coming out fine. You get extra adrenaline once the real games start." Broxton has a 2.79 spring ERA, but the closer has two strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings. In his career, he is averaging nearly 12 strikeouts per nine innings, the highest ratio in the Major Leagues over the past four years. Broxton has had a history of nerve problems in his right big toe, and he wraps his right ankle in padding to compensate for the custom inserts in his shoe, but he said his toe isn't a problem. Broxton led the league in triple-digit fastballs last year, but he said he expects to throw around 94-95 mph when the season starts. "You've got to build your arm strength," he said. "The first month and a half, you build. I was talking to [Eric] Gagne about that this spring, getting by early with 90 percent. You can't come out and be 100 percent in April, or by July and August you won't have anything left in the tank. Peak too soon and you go down early. When the bats start speeding up, the arm gets quicker and the adrenaline kicks in."
DeWitt starting opener vs. southpaw
LOS ANGELES -- Blake DeWitt will start at second base on Monday in Pittsburgh, even though the Pirates' opposing pitcher will be left-hander Zach Duke, manager Joe Torre said Saturday.Torre earlier said that lefty-swinging DeWitt would get the bulk of playing time early in the season, but also indicated that reserve infielders Jamey Carroll or Ronnie Belliard could start against certain left-handed pitching. However, Torre said that Duke isn't extraordinarily tough against left-handed hitters because he uses a changeup liberally. DeWitt is 1-for-3 lifetime against Duke, Carroll is 2-for-5 with a double and Belliard is 0-for-10. Right-handers hit .285 off Duke last year; left-handers hit .284.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.