Dodgers Report: Ramon Troncoso

The Green family, one year later

March, 23, 2012

TUCSON -- A year later, John and Roxana Green mostly wore smiles as they addressed a small media gathering in the press box at the Kino Sports Complex on Friday. For the second spring training in a row, the Los Angeles Dodgers, for whom John works in the amateur scouting department as a national crosschecker, had traveled to the city where the Greens live to play a benefit Cactus League game for the Christina Taylor Green Foundation, which the Greens formed to honor the memory of their 9-year-old daughter, who was killed in a mass shooting in a supermarket parking lot here more than 14 months ago.

Those smiles may come a little easier now, the hurt never goes away.

"There is still pain every day in losing our daughter, but it is healing to get involved in things we know she would be proud of," John Green said. "Just like starting a business, starting a new foundation has a lot of growing pains. Everybody has different ideas. It takes time, and it takes patience."

But the rewards make it all worthwhile. The Christina Taylor Green Foundation raises funds to provide financial assistance to schools for various programs.

"It has been very therapeutic as well," Roxana Green said. "We know she is looking down on us and very proud of what everyone is doing."

Last year, when the Dodgers played the Arizona Diamondbacks here, the Green family maintained a low profile, appearing on the field before the game and then doing a brief, impromptu media session in a tunnel behind home plate before watching the game from a private suite upstairs. This year, John, Roxana and their son Dallas -- named after John's father, longtime big league manager Dallas Green -- were highly visible, standing on the field before the game as John addressed the sold-out ballpark over the public-address system to explain the mission of the foundation.

The Dodgers split squad won the game, defeating a Chicago White Sox split squad 17-4 before 10,894. The rest of the team lost, 2-0 to the Kansas City Royals before 6,769 in Surprise.

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Troncoso DFA'd, Belisario added to roster

March, 22, 2012
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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Cactus League: Padres 3, Dodgers 0

March, 21, 2012

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Offensively, in their final Cactus League game before their only off-day of spring training, the Dodgers performed like a team trying to start its vacation a little early against San Diego Padres right-hander Tim Stauffer, who shut them out on three hits over six dazzling innings. On the mound, though, veteran right-hander Jamey Wright made a loud statement in his bid to capture the only available spot in the Dodgers' bullpen in a 3-0 loss to the San Diego Padres before 6,328 at Camelback Ranch.

With Ted Lilly pushed to the minor league side on his day to pitch because manager Don Mattingly wanted to look at several relievers in the big game, Wright was given a rare start. He responded by pitching two perfect innings, with only one ball being hit out of the infield.

Wright, 37 and almost two decades removed from having been a first-round draft pick of the Colorado Rockies, is in spring training as a non-roster invitee for the seventh consecutive season. Each of the past six years, he has found a way onto the Opening Day roster of whatever team brought him to camp.

But as he went into last winter a free agent once more, Wright figured the 3.13 ERA he had posted in 60 appearances for the Seattle Mariners last season might mean there would be a guaranteed, major league offer for him out there somewhere.

"That was definitely in the back of my mind,'' he said. "I definitely felt this year would be different. But as soon as you get past the new year and nothing has happened, you're thinking, 'Here we go again.' But whether it was a big league deal or a minor league deal, I wasn't going to come in any differently than I have the past seven years. I still have to get ready and prepare and do my work, especially at my age.''

Mattingly remained non-committal on the subject of Wright making the club, stopping short of even saying that Wright had put himself at the head of a pack that includes the non-roster likes of Jon Grabow, Fernando Nieve and Scott Rice, youngster Josh Lindblom and longtime organizational fixture Ramon Troncoso, who is out of minor league options.

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Bullpen-battle update and some cuts

March, 18, 2012
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
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 will begin season on DL

February, 21, 2012
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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Yasiel Puig
.296 16 69 92
HRA. Gonzalez 27
RBIA. Gonzalez 116
RY. Puig 92
OPSY. Puig .863
WC. Kershaw 21
ERAC. Kershaw 1.77
SOC. Kershaw 239