ROCKIES ROAD: The Dodgers will face the 2009 National League Wild Card entry Colorado Rockies today at Camelback Ranch – Glendale. Last year the NL West race came down to the final weekend of the season with the Dodgers clinching the title on Oct. 3 at Dodger Stadium behind 6.0 scoreless innings from Clayton Kershaw and perfect bullpen outings from Hong-Chih Kuo, George Sherrill and Jonathan Broxton. Kershaw made his Cactus League debut yesterday and the relief trio will be on display for the first time this afternoon. The Dodgers travel to Tucson to play the Rockies on March 30.
STAYING ROUTINE: For the fourth consecutive game, the Dodgers first five in the order will be Rafael Furcal, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Manny Ramirez and James Loney. Casey Blake will miss today’s contest to rest his back, which he slightly tweaked yesterday while throwing. The red-hot Blake DeWitt will also start his fourth straight game and looks to improve on his near-perfect start that has seen him go 4-for-5 with a double, two runs scored and four walks.
THERE GOES OUR HIRO: Dodger right-hander Hiroki Kuroda will make his Spring Training debut today, kicking off his third season with Los Angeles. Since coming over from Japan, Kuroda is 17-17 with a 3.74 over 52 games (51 starts) in his two years with the Dodgers. Kuroda will be followed to the mound by RHP Charlie Haeger, LHP Hong-Chih Kuo, RHP Jonathan Broxton and LHP George Sherrill. The Rockies will send RHP Ubaldo Jimenez to the hill.
TAIWAN TWO-STEP: The Dodgers have packed their bags for the 15-hour 6,414-mile flight to Taiwan tomorrow morning. Taiwan natives Chin-lung Hu and Hong-Chih Kuo along with familiar faces Manny Ramirez, James Loney and Joe Torre will headline the club’s travel roster that is set to take on a team comprised of Chinese Professional Baseball League All-Stars in the three-game goodwill series. In addition, MLB International and PRIME TICKET are both onsite today to tape some last-minute footage of the Taiwan preparation before the long flight tomorrow.
INTERNATIONAL FLAVOR – The Dodgers’ roster in Taiwan is represented by seven countries – the United States, Taiwan (Kuo, Hu), South Korea (Choi), the Dominican Republic (Ramirez, Alvarez, Perez and Berroa), Mexico (Castillo, Felix and Gutierrez), Venezuela (Bastardo) and Curacao/Netherlands Antilles (Jansen). In fact, all seven nationalities are represented on the pitching staff alone!
LET’S PLAY “2”: Yesterday, the Dodgers ended up playing a “B” game at the Ballpark at Camelback Ranch in addition to their regularly scheduled contest with the Giants in Scottsdale. The morning “B” game, which ended in a 3-3 tie, saw Josh Lindblom fire 2.0 scoreless innings and Ramon Troncoso, Javy Guerra, Kenley Jansen and Travis Schlichting fire a scoreless inning apiece. Brian Giles collected two hits in the contest. During the afternoon match-up in Scottsdale, Matt Kemp blasted his first homer of the spring and Blake DeWitt went 2-for-2 with two walks. On the mound, Josh Towers (2.0), Jon Link (1.0) and Carlos Monasterios (2.0) tossed scoreless baseball.
THE OLD WISE ONES: The longest tenured Dodger in camp is Jason Repko, who has been in the Dodger organization continuously since starting with Rookie-level Great Falls in 1999. Right behind Repko is left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo, who started with San Bernardino in 2000. The longest continuously tenured Dodger at the Major League level who has not been sent down to the minors at any point is Jonathan Broxton, who has been a Los Angeles Dodger since May 1, 2006. Broxton made his big league debut on July 29, 2005, but started the 2006 season in Triple-A Las Vegas. Just for fun, Andre Ethier debuted on May 2, 2006 and Russell Martin on May 5, 2006.
THE WISEST ONE: Of course, the longest tenured Major Leaguer in Dodger camp is today’s starting catcher Brad Ausmus, who has logged 16 years and 70 days in the big leagues, just ahead of Manny Ramirez’s 16 years and 33 days. Ausmus is 50 games away from 2,000 in his career and is tied with Benito Santiago for eighth on the all-time games caught list with 1,917.
LYONS DEN: The Dodgers would like to welcome Steve Lyons back to Camelback Ranch – Glendale. Lyons was here when camp opened to shoot pieces for PRIME TICKET and will broadcast games for PRIME TICKET with Josh Suchon today vs. Colorado and with Ken Levine vs. Arizona tomorrow.
OLD SKIPPER, NEW SKIPPER: The Dodgers would like to welcome former manager Jim Tracy to Camelback Ranch. Last season, Tracy took over the Rockies in May, led them to the playoffs and was named NL Manager of the Year. While in Los Angeles from 2001-2005, Tracy went 427-383 (.527), which is the eighth-best winning percentage all time among Dodger Managers with a minimum of 50 games managed. Current Manager Joe Torre finished third in the NL Manager of the Year balloting in 2009 and his 179-145 record (.552) ranks him sixth among Dodger skippers in winning percentage.
COME OUT TO THE PARK!: Dodger single-game tickets are now on sale at Dodgers.com or over the phone by calling 866-DODGERS. On Saturday, more than 3,500 rabid fans showed up to purchase single-game tickets at Dodger Stadium at an on-sale event in Lot P with Dodger legends Ron Cey and “Sweet” Lou Johnson and Opening Day sold out in less than 10 minutes.
VEGAS, BABY: Tickets are currently on sale for the Dodgers vs. Reds contest in Las Vegas on March 31. Los Angeles will send a split squad to Cashman Field with the rest of the club remaining in Glendale to battle the Giants. Tickets can be purchased online at Dodgers.com and over the phone at 1-800-745-3000.