THE TRIBE: The Dodgers are in the midst of a difficult stretch of the Cactus League schedule, when they play five games in three days, and today welcome Amy Summers’ Cleveland Indians to Camelback Ranch. This is the first of three games between the two clubs on the Spring Training slate as the teams will face off in Goodyear on March 29 and in Los Angeles on April 1.
IT’S TIME FOR DODGER BASEBALL: The Dodgers would like to welcome Hall of Famer Vin Scully to Camelback Ranch. Scully will kick off his 61st season broadcasting the Dodgers this afternoon and his call can be seen on KCAL 9 in Los Angeles.
TIGHTENING UP: Yesterday, the Dodgers optioned RHP James McDonald, RHP Jon Link and C Lucas May to minor league camp, trimming their spring roster to 43 players, which includes the injured Cory Wade and the yet to arrive Ronald Belisario.
ON THE MEND: Russell Martin continued his rehab this morning and had a number of at-bats in a simulated game against minor leaguers RHP Tim Sexton and LHP Sean Thompson.
SATURDAY SPLIT: The Dodgers earned a Saturday split, defeating the Rangers 5-4 in the afternoon and falling 5-1 to the Padres in the nightcap. In a classic case of the left hand not talking to the right hand, Xavier Paul, Andre Ethier and James Loney each collected two hits as a split squad of Dodgers heavy with lefties pounded out 11 hits against Ranger pitching, while Ronnie Belliard slugged a solo home run on Saturday night in a lineup of mostly right-handed hitters that managed just two hits. Ramon Ortiz allowed one run and struck out six in 4.0 innings of relief against the Rangers for his second Cactus League win and Vicente Padilla took the loss against the Padres, allowing four runs on seven hits in 5.0 innings to fall to 1-1 in the spring.
PITCHING IN: LHP Eric Stults will make his second start of the Cactus League schedule and first since returning from Taiwan, where he struck out four in 3.0 scoreless innings against a team of Chinese Professional Baseball League All-Stars. Stults will be followed to the mound by RHP Ramon Troncoso and LHP Aaron Miller, who will make his first appearance for the Dodgers this spring after being selected with the club’s first pick (36th overall) in the 2009 draft. RHP Jake Westbrook will get the start for the Indians.
CBR – G(EEZ!): Camelback Ranch, the award-winning (now record-breaking) home of the Dodgers and White Sox, has hosted a Cactus League single-game record crowd on three consecutive days. Last night, the Dodgers and Padres played before 13,506 fans after the facility set records on Friday (Cubs at White Sox, 13,413) and Thursday (Cubs at Dodgers, 13,391).
PENCILS READY: Both the Dodgers and the Indians will have a designated hitter this afternoon even with the game being played in a National League park. Dodger hitting coach and acting Manager Don Mattingly will add the extra bat with Manager Joe Torre returning to Los Angeles today for his daughter’s performance.
HEADLINERS: Entering play today, Dodger second baseman Blake DeWitt ranks among the NL’s Cactus League leaders in batting average (.375, 8th) and on-base percentage of .459 (sixth). Catcher A.J. Ellis also ranks among the NL Cactus League leaders in on-base percentage with a .448 mark (8th) and outfielder Andre Ethier ranks eighth in the circuit with a .629 slugging percentage. On the mound, Dodger pitchers hold three of the top ten spots in ERA with Ramon Ortiz (1.38, 2nd), Chad Billingsley (1.86, 3rd) and Russ Ortiz (2.00, 9th). Carlos Monasterios would lead the league with a 0.00 ERA in 8.0 innings, but does not have enough innings to qualify for the NL Cactus League leaders. Ramon Ortiz also leads the all NL pitchers with 17 strikeouts in Spring Training.
WORLDWIDE LEADERS: Andre Ethier and RHP Charlie Haeger were both featured on ESPN programs this morning. Ethier appeared with current White Sox and then-Padres pitcher Jake Peavy on Baseball Tonight as the two rehashed a seven-pitch battle from May 1, 2009. Haeger was featured along with minor league pitching coach Charlie Hough in a SportsCenter special on the art of the knuckleball.
LACE UP YOUR SNEAKS: The starting gun sounded around 7:30 a.m. this morning at Dodger Stadium to kick off the 25th Annual Los Angeles Marathon. 25,000 runners took to the new “Stadium to the Sea” course that winds through Hollywood, Beverly Hills and finishes in Santa Monica. Many of the Dodgers recorded welcome messages for the race and the club also sponsored a team for the LA Marathon 5k to benefit ThinkCure! in memory of Dodger Ticket Operations Manager Desiree Sanchez.
THINK GREEN!: On Monday at 9:30 a.m., Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other elected officials will join Dodger Owner and Chairman Frank McCourt at Dodger Stadium to announce a new Dodger Stadium Express bus service for the 2010 season. The service will run between Union Station and Dodger Stadium on metro state-of-the-art clean burning compressed natural gas (CNG) buses, which will be on display at the announcement.
THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT: Roster spots are still available for the 2010 Dodgers Youth Baseball Camp presented by Kaiser Permanente. The camp, which will take place this summer, gives youngsters a chance to learn the game of baseball from Dodger coaches, players and alumni. For more information and to register now, please visit www.dodgers.com/camp. All proceeds from the camp will benefit the Dodgers Dream Foundation and registration closes on March 29.