SAN FRANCISCO — The Dodgers will field an opening-day lineup today without a player produced by their farm system for the first time.
Rookie left fielder Jason Repko was a Dodger first-round draft pick in 1999, but Manager Jim Tracy has opted to start the left-handed hitting Ricky Ledee against San Francisco Giant right-hander Jason Schmidt.
Repko and Ledee are filling in for Jayson Werth, who is on the disabled list because of a wrist injury. Werth was acquired in a trade last spring.
Shortstop Cesar Izturis, center fielder Milton Bradley, first baseman Hee-Seop Choi and catcher Jason Phillips were acquired in trades. Ledee, right fielder J.D. Drew, second baseman Jeff Kent, third baseman Jose Valentin and starting pitcher Derek Lowe were signed as free agents during the off-season. Izturis, beginning his fourth season with the Dodgers, is the senior position player.
Repko, who is expected to get most of the playing time until Werth returns, is the only player on the 25-man roster drafted by the Dodgers. Pitchers Eric Gagne and Steve Schmoll were signed as non-drafted free agents.
The farm system was considered one of the weakest in baseball through much of the 1990s, but has gotten much stronger in recent years. Scouts throughout baseball say the Dodgers could have several homegrown players break into the major leagues in the next few years.
A day after suggesting that he might return to Japan, third baseman Norihiro Nakamura decided to accept his assignment to triple-A Las Vegas. Nakamura batted .295 during the spring, better than the three third basemen who made the opening-day roster. However, none of the others could have been sent to the minors without going through waivers.
Valentin, a veteran who signed a one-year, $3.5-million contract with the Dodgers, will start at third most of the time despite batting .204 during the spring. Antonio Perez batted .286 but has not looked comfortable at the position. Olmedo Saenz, who hit only .135 in 37 spring at-bats, is a proven pinch-hitter and a defensive liability. Nakamura, 31, signed a minor-league contract, turning down a guaranteed $10 million in Japan. He has 307 home runs and is a five-time Gold Glove winner.
Opponent -- San Francisco Giants, three games.
Site -- SBC Park.
TV -- FSN2; Wednesday: ESPN2 and FSN2
Radio -- 980, 1330.
Record vs. Giants (2004) -- 10-9.
Today, 1 p.m. -- Derek Lowe (14-12, 5.42 ERA in 2004) vs. Jason Schmidt (18-7, 3.20).
Wednesday, 7 p.m. -- Odalis Perez (7-6, 3.25) vs. Kirk Rueter (9-12, 4.73).
Thursday, 7 p.m. -- Jeff Weaver (13-13, 4.01) vs. Brett Tomko (11-7, 4.04).
*--* THE MATCHUPS 2004 2004 VS OPP TEAMS/PITCHERS W-L ERA TEAM W-L IP ERA DODGERS/Lowe (R) 14-12 5.42 18-15 -- -- -- San Francisco/Schmidt (R) 18-7 3.20 19-13 1-1 20.0 2.70
Update -- The Dodgers open the season with four key players on the disabled list. The loss of closer Eric Gagne (sprained elbow) is the most significant. Yhency Brazoban will take over closer duties, and Giovanni Carrara, Duaner Sanchez, Kelly Wunsch and rookie Steve Schmoll will form a committee of relievers. Left fielder Jayson Werth (wrist) is the only position player out of the lineup. Because of off days, Lowe could start three of the first nine games.