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Saturday, July 31, 2010
DeWitt surprised as L.A. gains versatility

By Tony Jackson
ESPNLosAngeles.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Blake DeWitt said he had no idea what was going on when traveling secretary Scott Akasaki called him out of the indoor batting cage at AT&T Park on Saturday morning, walked him up the stairs to the visiting clubhouse, took him into manager Joe Torre's office and closed the door.

DeWitt wasn't in there long.

"I'm going to Chicago," he said when he emerged.

DeWitt is going to the Cubs for veteran left-hander Ted Lilly and infielder Ryan Theriot. The Dodgers also sent pitching prospects Kyle Smit and Brett Wallach to the Cubs. Wallach's father is Tim Wallach, the Dodgers' Triple-A manager at Albuquerque.

"This is the first time something like this has ever happened to me," said DeWitt, who had been in the Dodgers' organization since being drafted in the first round in 2004. "I haven't been following any [trade speculation]. I try not to pay too much attention to that stuff. But it happened. I appreciate the opportunity I had here, and I had a lot of fun here."

DeWitt had been the Dodgers' primary second baseman this season, a job that will now go to Theriot. But Theriot, who can play second, third, shortstop, left field and center field, also will give manager Joe Torre more flexibility in terms of late-inning defensive maneuvering and opportunities to rest regular players at those positions.

The majority of Theriot's big league experience has come at shortstop, but he was pushed to second base earlier this season by the arrival of highly touted prospect Starlin Castro.

Lilly, meanwhile, has pitched far better than his 3-8 record would indicate. He has a 3.69 ERA in 18 starts and has a strikeout-to-walk ratio of better than 3:1 (89 strikeouts, 29 walks).

Originally drafted by the Dodgers in the 23rd round in 1996, the Torrance, Calif., native was traded to the Montreal Expos while still in the minors in a six-player deal on July 31, 1998.

"We've been looking to improve our rotation, and with Ted, we feel like we've got a very good group of starting pitchers for the stretch run," Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said in a release issued by the club. "Ryan is versatile and can help us in the middle of the diamond as a nice complement to our existing infielders."

DeWitt was hitting .270 with .352 on-base percentage for the Dodgers this season, and although he had just 15 doubles and one home run, his play at second base had improved dramatically since spring training, when he moved there on a regular basis after spending most of his minor league and early big league career at third.

"Of all the times I've had to tell a player he was traded, this was one of the toughest telling Blake DeWitt," Colletti said in the release. "His professionalism, his passion and who he is made doing this one of the toughest moves I've made."

Smit, 22, is a combind 5-3 with a 2.35 ERA and six saves in 37 games for Class A Inland Empire and Double-A Chattanooga and was originally selected in the fifth round of the 2006 first-year player draft. Wallach, 21, was 6-0 with a 3.72 ERA in 17 games for Class A Great Lakes and was originally selected in the third round of the 2009 first-year player draft.

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.