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Down The Line

August 12, 2007|Bill Shaikin

Hanrahan can, at least in D.C.

Delwyn Young sent a text message to Joel Hanrahan: Don't be the guy to give up No. 756.

Hanrahan, once a touted Dodgers prospect, played with Young on one of the most talented minor league teams in recent memory. The Jacksonville Suns won the 2005 Southern League championship -- with Russell Martin at catcher, James Loney at first base, Young at second, Joel Guzman at shortstop and Andy La Roche at third. Not even two full years later, 12 players from that double-A team have appeared in the major leagues.

"You'd sit there watching, thinking there will be some stars," Hanrahan said. "Russell already made the All-Star team. I don't think it'll be too far for Loney to get there. It's just amazing watching him hit. He's a great first baseman, too."

Hanrahan, 25, would come in pretty handy for the Dodgers about now, given their fragile starting rotation, but who knew? The Dodgers selected him in the second round of a forgettable 2000 draft, and he reached triple A in 2003 but injured his shoulder. By the time he had recovered full strength, he had been bypassed by Chad Billingsley, Jonathan Broxton and Hong-Chih Kuo, three more of his Jacksonville '05 teammates.

"You miss your opportunity," Hanrahan said, "and you've got to wait for next time."

In 2006, when the Dodgers put him on waivers, no team claimed him. As a free agent last winter, he signed with the Washington Nationals, a team holding auditions for an entire rotation. Even then, Hanrahan started the season in the minors but was called up last month. In three starts, he's 2-0 with a 2.76 earned-run average.

Barry Bonds hit No. 756 against the Nationals last week, two days before Hanrahan's start against the San Francisco Giants. Really, Hanrahan said, he would have been fine giving up No. 756.

"It's a straight ticket to the Hall of Fame," he said.

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Grace under fire can be hard to find

BALCO founder Victor Conte served four months in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute steroids and money laundering. In an April interview with Times reporter Lance Pugmire, as Bonds approached the all-time home run record, Conte expressed his admiration.

"The higher the mountain, the greater the accomplishment," Conte said. "I can tell you the unknown, the uncertainty [of a federal investigation] is the scariest thing in the world. Not knowing if you're going to prison, the threats of it being a very long time, the legal bills rising, it gives me perspective about what Barry is accomplishing."

Conte claims that although he provided Bonds' trainer, Greg Anderson, with designer steroids known as "the cream" and "the clear," he only advised Bonds on a nutritional program. Federal investigators continue to probe whether Bonds lied when he testified before a grand jury he had never knowingly taken steroids.

After Bonds set the record last week, he was asked if he had a message for Anderson, imprisoned since November for his refusal to testify in the perjury investigation.

"Why are we in that conversation?" Bonds said. "Just another negative question. I'm not going to get into that."

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Parity update, Kennedy update

Seven weeks to go, and no team has more than a five-game lead in any division. Yet the best races might be the ones for the wild card: In the American League, the Mariners, Yankees and Tigers are within one game of each other. In the National League, six teams are within two games of each other. . . . Adam Kennedy didn't much care for hitting ninth with the Angels. He must have been really thrilled last week, when Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa said he needed a "second leadoff hitter" and dropped Kennedy to ninth -- behind the pitcher.

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BILL SHAIKIN

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