Dodgers Report: Blake Hawksworth

Dodgers officially add Jamey Wright

March, 27, 2012
3/27/12
10:31
AM PT
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- One day after informing him of their intention to do so, the Dodgers made it official on Tuesday, purchasing the contract of non-roster right-hander Jamey Wright. Wright will begin the season in the club's bullpen after making a major league Opening Day roster as a non-roster invitee for the seventh consecutive spring.

To clear a 40-man roster spot, the Dodgers placed reliever Blake Hawksworth on the 60-day disabled list. Hawksworth is recovering from a second surgery just before the start of camp to clean out an infection in his right elbow resulting from the first procedure in January to clean out scar tissue.

Hawksworth isn't expected back before late May because once he is ready to start throwing, he still will have to go through the same process of building up his pitch count and getting his arm into regular-season shape that the rest of the bullpen has been going through for the past five-plus weeks of spring training.

Wright, 37, is a former first-round draft pick of the Colorado Rockies and is a 16-year major league veteran who converted from a career starter to a full-time reliever in 2007. He posted a 3.16 ERA in 60 relief appearances for the Seattle Mariners last season.

Jamey Wright claims spot in bullpen

March, 26, 2012
3/26/12
9:18
PM PT
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jamey Wright, the veteran right-hander who was trying to make an Opening Day roster as a non-roster invitee to spring training for the seventh consecutive year, appears to have succeeded in that endeavor, securing the final spot in the Dodgers bullpen to begin the season.

Wright said after Monday's Cactus League game, a 4-3 win over the Chicago White Sox, that general manager Ned Colletti had informed him in the morning that his contract would be purchased and that the move would become official once the paperwork was complete.

Meanwhile, another veteran reliever trying to make the club, left-hander Jon Grabow, exercised the out clause in his minor league contract and became a free agent after being told he wouldn't make the Opening Day roster.

"They informed my agent that I wouldn't be making the club and they wouldn't be putting me on the roster by (Friday),'' said Grabow, who made six appearances this spring and allowed no runs on four hits over six innings while striking out seven and walking one. "At that time, they went ahead and gave me my release. I'll just go from there and see if I can jump on with another team. This is all new to me, so we'll see what happens.''

Wright, 37, is a former first-round draft pick of the Colorado Rockies who has found his niche as a full-time reliever, to which he converted in 2007 after years of struggling as a starter, a role in which he went 69-101 with a 5.13 ERA. As a reliever, his career ERA (4.11) is more than a run better.

After posting a 3.16 ERA in 60 appearances for the Seattle Mariners last year -- including no runs allowed in his final 10 games -- Wright figured there would be a major league offer when he entered free agency in the fall, but once again, none ever came.

"It gets more stressful every year,'' he said of having to make a club every spring. "It's a lot of hard work. I have to come in and get ready to go and get ready for the season, all while trying to make a team too. That is kind of how I approached it.''

Barring an injury, Grabow's decision means the Dodgers will begin the season with only one left-hander, Scott Elbert, in their bullpen.

A 40-man roster spot will have to be cleared for Wright. That likely means reliever Blake Hawksworth, whose second elbow surgery just before the start of camp to clean out an infection resulting from the first one earlier in the winter is the reason there was a bullpen opening to begin with, will be placed on the 60-day disabled list. Hawksworth isn't expected to be sidelined that long, but he has had no spring training so he still will need to work his way back into regular-season pitching shape before he can be activated, meaning he probably won't be back until mid to late May anyway.

Troncoso DFA'd, Belisario added to roster

March, 22, 2012
3/22/12
5:12
PM PT
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- In a move that was surprising only in its timing -- it happened on the team's only off-day of spring training -- the Los Angeles Dodgers designated reliever Ramon Troncoso for assignment and activated reliever Ronald Belisario from the restricted list, where he had been for more than a year after failing to report to spring training last season because he couldn't secure a visa to enter the U.S. from his native Venezuela.

Belisario still must serve a 25-game suspension that will begin on opening day before he is eligible to pitch for the Dodgers during the regular season, a consequence of a drug test Belisario said earlier this spring was positive for cocaine use.

The Dodgers have 10 days to either trade Troncoso, release him or outright him to the minors, but he must pass through waivers unclaimed before they can do any of those things.

The move is the strongest indication yet that the battle for the final spot in the Dodgers bullpen -- a spot that is open only because Blake Hawksworth is expected to begin the season on the 15-day disabled list after undergoing two surgical procedures on his right elbow over the winter -- probably has become a two-man race between major league veterans Jamey Wright, a right-hander, and Jon Grabow, a lefty, both of whom are in camp as non-roster invitees.

Troncoso had been a competitor for that spot, but he gave up three runs and eight hits over five innings in his five Cactus League appearances.

Troncoso, 29, once was a mainstay in the Dodgers bullpen, his career reaching its peak in his first full season in the majors, when he posted a 2.72 ERA in 2009 while making a staggering 73 appearances under then-Dodgers manager Joe Torre. The next year, part of which Troncoso spent at Triple-A Albuquerque, his ERA jumped to 4.33. In 2011, he made just 18 major league appearances and posted a 6.75 ERA.

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Bullpen-battle update and some cuts

March, 18, 2012
3/18/12
12:02
PM PT
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The battle for the last spot in the Los Angeles Dodgers' bullpen -- which manager Don Mattingly insists isn't necessarily just a battle to hold down a roster spot until Blake Hawksworth comes off the disabled list -- is beginning to reach full intensity with two weeks to go before the team breaks camp.

Although no one is willing to say anyone is beginning to gain an edge, I'm going to go out on a limb -- this is not an informed opinion, just an educated guess based on the way this front office usually does things -- and say that spot will go either to Jamey Wright or John Grabow, with Grabow possibly having the slightest of advantages because he is left-handed.

In his six-plus years as the Dodgers general manager, Ned Colletti has always placed added importance on what he calls "inventory.'' What this means is that if he can, Colletti likes to avoid losing players from the organization if he thinks those players can be of help at some point. And given that the vast majority of major league veterans who are signed to minor league contracts and brought to camp as non-roster invitees are given escape clauses as part of those contracts, that means those players generally have the edge over prospects who still have minor league options.

Add to that the fact that both Wright and Grabow have long track records and at least some degree of success in the majors and the fact that both have "out'' clauses they can exercise around the end of camp if they don't make the club, and this begins to look to the naked eye like a two-horse race.

Keep in mind, the Dodgers presently have only one lefty in their pen in Scott Elbert and were prepared to proceed that way if Hawksworth had been fully recovered from off-season elbow surgery. But Hawksworth's subsequent infection and second surgery to clean it out are expected to keep him on the DL for the first few weeks of the season, and there are indications that at least some in the front office and on the coaching staff are less than comfortable with having only one lefty in the pen. Moreover, Grabow hasn't allowed a run in three Cactus League appearances and has three strikeouts without a walk.
On the other hand, Wright had a solid season for the Seattle Mariners last year, posting a 3.16 ERA in 60 relief appearances. Grabow wasn't as good, posting a 4.76 in 58 appearances for the Chicago Cubs.

One other pitcher to consider, however, is Ramon Troncoso. He has fallen on hard times over the past two seasons, and he only made 18 appearances in the majors last year. But he has pitched well this spring (one run in four innings) and -- and this is important, again, because of Colletti's distaste for losing players -- is out of minor league options, meaning the Dodgers will have to pass him through waivers if he doesn't make the team.

Oh, and don't forget Wil Ledezma, another veteran reliever who hasn't had much success in recent years. He also is left-handed, and he also has pitched well for the Dodgers this spring.

One player Colletti has let get away is non-roster lefty Alberto Castillo, who had a 2.31 ERA in 17 appearances for the Arizona Diamondbacks last year. He was released on Sunday morning after just three appearances in the Cactus League.

"We didn't feel like he was going fit for us,'' Mattingly said. "More than anything, it was fair to him at this point to give him a chance. (Teams) are looking for lefties. We didn't see him being the guy for us, and we didn't see him being that guy at Triple-A, either. We just thought it was better to give him a chance to be in the big leagues with somebody else.''

The Dodgers also reassigned pitchers Will Savage, Matt Chico and Ryan Tucker to minor league camp. More cuts are expected after Sunday's game with the Los Angeles Angels.

Morning mishmash from Camelback Ranch

March, 12, 2012
3/12/12
10:13
AM PT
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The competition for the right to hold down Blake Hawksworth's roster spot, as long as that spot remains open, is well under way in Los Angeles Dodgers spring training, and the list of candidates seems endless. There are Wil Ledezma, Jon Grabow, Scott Rice, Jamey Wright, Ramon Troncoso and Josh Lindblom just to name a few.

As for Hawksworth, who had to have a second surgical procedure to clean out an infection in his right elbow shortly after he had a first surgery this winter to remove scar tissue and a bone spur, he is only now beginning to play catch and isn't expected to return by April 10, which would be the first day he is eligible to come off the disabled list.

Eventually, though, Hawksworth is coming back from the DL, and he is out of minor league options, so we probably can presume his roster spot will be there for him whenever he is ready to reclaim it.

So is this battle to earn the last bullpen spot on the opening-day roster really just a battle to be a temporary placeholder?

``You say that, but then you might have a guy throwing up zeroes every day,'' Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. ``It's a competition. It's hard to say a guy is a placeholder when he throws zeroes every time out there. It's all about opportunity.''

Meanwhile, Andre Ethier will return to the lineup this afternoon against the Los Angeles Angels, and he will play right field. Mattingly had him penciled in at designated hitter as a precaution after Ethier was scratched from a game on Saturday because of stiffness in his back, but trainer Sue Falsone told Mattingly that Ethier not only was OK to play defensively but that he might actually benefit from it because the increased activity could be better for his back than sitting around as much as a DH normally would during a game.

And finally, one leftover note from Sunday:

Although the Dodgers are off to a sizzling start in the Cactus League with a 5-1-2 record -- something that in reality means absolutely nothing -- Mattingly is growing impatient with the unusual number of fundamental miscues.

``For me, we have gotten a little lazy lately,'' he said. ``We have missed some cutoffs and missed some signs. I think it's just that part of the spring where we have to push ourselves to be a little better.''

Hawksworth blames no one

February, 24, 2012
2/24/12
10:09
AM PT
Blake Hawksworth is one of the more easygoing guys in the Dodgers clubhouse. So it wasn't much of a surprise that he took his little setback from elbow surgery -- an infection resulted in the need for a second surgery, which in turn will result in him spending at least the first few days of the season on the disabled list -- somewhat in stride.

"Yeah, (it's frustrating), but it's obviously no one's fault,'' he said. "It's just one of those things you can't do anything about.''

Hawksworth said he knew something was wrong when the swelling and redness at the spot of the original surgery actually increased instead of decreasing. Had the infection gotten into the joint, it would have been much more serious. But because he got to a doctor quickly near his home in Washington state, with that doctor quickly sending the test results to Dodgers team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache, the matter was addressed before it got out of hand.

Hawksworth said the best-case scenario now is that he could be playing catch as soon as next weekend. But he also said he'll need time to rebuild strength in his arm, so there is no guarantee he would be ready to return as soon as he becomes eligible.

Hawksworth will begin season on DL

February, 21, 2012
2/21/12
1:34
PM PT
We knew before today that Blake Hawksworth had surgery on Jan. 12 to remove scar tissue and a bone spur from his right elbow. What we didn't know, until we met with manager Don Mattingly this morning, was that Hawksworth had a second procedure about 10 days later to clear up an infection resulting from the first procedure. This has put him about two weeks behind schedule, meaning that when he is ready to begin throwing, he won't have enough time to get ready for the season.

That means he will begin the season on the 15-day disabled list, which in turn means that a bullpen that didn't appear to have an opening now has one -- although it likely would be a temporary opening, because Hawksworth is out of minor league options and thus virtually guaranteed a spot when he is ready to go.

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