06/18/10 9:39 PM ET
With Furcal gone, Kemp takes over leadoff role
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
Manager Joe Torre said he spoke Friday to Furcal, who is in the Dominican Republic attending to an ill family member. Torre said he wasn't sure when Furcal would rejoin the club, but ruled out any time this weekend.
Meanwhile, Kemp said he's detected a flaw in his baserunning mechanics that might help explain why he's been thrown out nine times in 19 attempts.
"I saw that I was raising up instead of leaning toward the next base," said Kemp. "You wouldn't think that raising up would get you out of whack, but it did. And I need to get bigger leads. I know I'm better than this.
"I ain't going to lie -- I know you're not supposed to think like this, but you get caught nine times, you start wondering if you shouldn't go. I've got to get back to stealing bags and get into scoring position for Andre [Ethier] and Manny [Ramirez]. I haven't even tried to steal third base. I've got to be aggressive."
Kemp was caught only eight times last year in 42 attempts, finishing with 34 steals.
"I'm going to get that many this year, write it down," he predicted.
Manny gets cheers during batting practice
BOSTON -- Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez was warmly greeted by fans, with only a handful of boos, when he first stepped onto the Fenway Park field for batting practice Friday, bringing a smile to the face of manager Joe Torre.
"That's what I was hoping they'd do," said Torre. "He meant a lot to this franchise and this city."
Ramirez, in his first Boston appearance since the 2008 trade to the Dodgers, heard more cheers when he stepped into the batting cage for his first round of swings. Fans even cheered when he cleared the Green Monster for the first time.
Ramirez, however, didn't extend such a warm reception to the 40 or so reporters jammed into the tiny visitors' clubhouse, hoping he would break his season-long media blackout.
"I'll bet you all a dollar he won't talk," joked Matt Kemp.
The club requested Ramirez hold a news conference, but he declined.
Colletti looking to acquire arm for rotation
BOSTON -- Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti reiterated on Friday that he's looking to acquire a starting pitcher to bolster a rotation that currently includes two rookies.
"The conversations have picked up a little," said Colletti. "It doesn't seem that anything is really hot. There are six or seven weeks to go [until the July 31 Trade Deadline]. Teams holding on to pitchers, their value won't go down unless they get hurt."
Colletti didn't say Cliff Lee is his target, but Colletti made a strong run at Lee last summer and reportedly is after him again. The Dodgers, however, are considered a bad match with the Seattle Mariners, who want a young slugger in return. Los Angeles might need to bring a third club into the equation.
Colletti wouldn't address by name Lee, Roy Oswalt or any other potentially available pitcher, but said he's "starting to focus on who" might be an obtainable target. Colletti didn't rule out former Dodger Pedro Martinez, a free agent working out in the Dominican Republic, and said he hasn't yet gone to ownership asking for more money.
"When we've got an opportunity to make a move, we'll bring it up at that point," Colletti said.
Colletti said the club already has gotten more mileage than expected this soon from rookie starters John Ely and Carlos Monasterios, who have struggled recently and need to adjust to hitters that have adjusted to them.
Last summer, Colletti acquired starters Vicente Padilla and Jon Garland.
Vargas could take over fifth-starter role
BOSTON -- The Dodgers' fifth-starter shell game has a new/old name in play: Claudio Vargas.
In his first start for Triple-A Albuquerque on Thursday night, the right-hander allowed one run on a solo home run in three innings, with four strikeouts and no walks.
Vargas was signed earlier in the week, two weeks after being cut loose by Milwaukee, where he had a 7.32 ERA in 17 relief appearances. The three innings was his longest outing of the year, an indication the Dodgers will try to stretch him out and make him a starter again.
Last year, the Dodgers went 30-16 (.650) in games started by someone other than Hiroki Kuroda, Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley or Randy Wolf. This year, Los Angeles is 11-11 in games started by someone other than Kuroda, Kershaw, Billingsley or Vicente Padilla.
Vargas pitched briefly for the Dodgers last year. He missed the first three months with right elbow problems, allowed only two runs in 11 innings of relief after returning and was quickly dealt to the Brewers to make room on the roster after the acquisition of George Sherrill.
Vargas, who turns 32 on Saturday, joins an Albuquerque rotation filled with castoffs. In addition to Vargas, the rotation consists of rehabbing knuckleballer Charlie Haeger, Seth Etherton (in his 12th Minor League season), Tim Corcoran (in his 14th Minor League season) and Alberto Bastardo (in his ninth Minor League season).
In other Albuquerque news, infielder Nick Green asked for and was granted his release, one day before Chin-lung Hu was promoted to fill in for Rafael Furcal, who is on the bereavement list. Green had been designated for assignment May 28 after spending more than three weeks with the Dodgers. He had accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.