Way Out West
While Manny Ramirez was holding out this spring he certainly wasn’t working out.
Finally signed to a two-year, $45 million deal with the Dodgers, Ramirez checked into camp and was not anywhere close to being in game shape. Manager Joe Torre used Ramirez as a DH on March 13, gave him the next day off, and then inserted him in left field against the Rockies last Sunday.
So much for that idea. Ramirez left in the fourth inning with tightness in his left leg and he hasn’t played since. Torre said when Ramirez is ready to return he will spend most of his time in the DH role.
Given Ramirez’s lack of general conditioning and his marginal efforts in left field the DH would be a perfect spot for him. Unfortunately, however, he returned to the Dodgers, an NL team, so other than inter-league play the DH is not a regular-season option.
RHP JASON SCHMIDT isn’t ready to come back from his second shoulder surgery in two years. Schmidt, entering the third year of his Dodgers contract, hasn’t appeared in a game since June 17, 2007, when he made his sixth start for the Dodgers. He was considered a candidate for the fifth starter job this spring, but Torre rethought that idea after watching Schmidt’s early spring struggles.
With Schmidt on the sidelines, the Dodgers are looking at the quartet of Eric Milton,, and Shawn Estes for the fifth spot.
Stultz, 29, is 4-7 with a 4.83 ERA in 25 big-league games, 14 starts, spread over the last three seasons with the Dodgers.
The other three are coming off arm problems. Estes, who pitched in only one game in 2006 and none in 2007, appeared in 10 minor-league games for the Padres last year and was 2-3 with a 4.74 ERA in 10 games, nine starts, at the big-league level. Vargas was 3-2 with a 4.62 ERA in 11 games, four starts, for the Mets last year, and also made nine minor-league appearances. Milton did not pitch last year and appeared in only six games with Cincinnati in 2007.
Randy Johnson developed a sore biceps that forced him to miss a start, but the magnetic resonance imaging was negative. He is scheduled to pitch Monday against Seattle, but could wind up working a minor-league game instead because it is a less formal environment.
Right-hander Matt Cain, meanwhile, is struggling. He has allowed 12 earned runs on 19 hits and six walks in 14 2/3 innings.
GIANTS HAVE a strong battle for the second base job between Emmanuel Burris, who is hitting .396,and Kevin Frandsen, who is hitting .294. They are both above-average defensive players. Manager Bruce Bochy says a decision will be made sooner rather than later.
“We may try to make the decision a little earlier just to have that guy get ready,” Bochy said, “and whoever is not starting at second base we can move around a little to get him ready.”
Right-hander Mark Worrell, 25, who made his big-league debut with St. Louis last year, will undergo season-ending right elbow surgery on Wednesday. Worrell came to the Padres in the deal that sent shortstop Khalil Greene to the Cardinals. The Padres did put in a wavier claim for right-hander Duaner Sanchez, who was released by the Mets.
Right-hander Chris Young, slotted into the No. 2 spot in the rotation behind Jake Peavy, was scratched from his Wednesday start because of elbow tenderness. Young said it happens every spring when he starts throwing breaking pitches. He said he only throws fastballs and changeups in winter workouts.
After an ugly parting of the ways at the end of the 2006 season when the Diamondbacks declined a $10 million option for outfielder Luis Gonzalez, the two sides appear to be patching things up. Arizona CEO Derrick Hall has met with Gonzalez to talk about him joining the organization once he retires as a player, similar to what happened with Matt Williams, Jay Bell and Mark Grace.
RIGHT-HANDERS Yusmeiro Petit and Billy Buckner have the edge for two of three open spots in the bullpen. The other job appears to be between right-hander Juan Gutierrez, and left-handers Doug Slaten and Travis Blackley.