Dodgers Report: Wil Ledezma

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.''

It's time for Cactus League baseball

March, 4, 2012
Yes, indeed. As is the annual tradition at Camelback Ranch, it will begin with the facility's two inhabitants, the Dodgers and Chicago White Sox, playing each other Monday.

The Sox are the designated home team in this one. Chad Billingsley will take the mound for the Dodgers, scheduled for two innings, and will be followed by Nathan Eovaldi (two innings), Fernando Nieve, Wil Ledezma, Angel Guzman, Ryan Tucker and Scott Rice (one inning each).

The Dodgers' official "home" opener will follow on Tuesday against the San Francisco Giants. Ted Lilly will start that game for the Dodgers.



Clayton Kershaw
14 1.86 174 145
BAY. Puig .312
HRA. Gonzalez 17
RBIA. Gonzalez 83
RY. Puig 69
OPSY. Puig .905
ERAC. Kershaw 1.86
SOC. Kershaw 174