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SPRING REPORT DODGERS 4, BALTIMORE 2

Tomko gets closer to taking the fifth

March 13, 2007|Kevin Baxter | Times Staff Writer

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. — Brett Tomko moved a big step closer to grabbing the final spot in the Dodgers' rotation Monday, cruising through an efficient three-inning outing in a 4-2 Grapefruit League win over the Baltimore Orioles.

Although the right-hander gave up his first run of the spring on a walk, a stolen base and two groundouts, the only hit he gave up was a fly ball that got lost in the sun.

In three starts and seven innings, Tomko has given up four hits and a walk.

"I've got my eyes on that spot and I'm going out to get it," said Tomko, who needed only 37 pitches to get through his three innings. "I'm looking at it that I'm going to be the guy at the end of spring that's got it."

But there are at least five other pitchers who have their eyes on that spot too, including veteran Joe Mays, who followed Tomko to the mound and held the Orioles to a hit in three scoreless innings.

"It's going to be a very tough decision," Dodgers Manager Grady Little said. "But it's one [where] we feel like we can't go wrong."

Tomko, who pitched in relief on a regular basis for the second time in his 10-year career last summer, went into the winter determined to get his starter's job back.

"I came in pretty confident in the fact that I trained very hard this winter and did some adjustments with my mechanics," he said. "I didn't know how those adjustments were going to pan out in the games but I'm happy with the results.

"If I go out there and do what I'm supposed to do and pitch the way I'm capable of pitching, it should turn out the way I want it to turn out."

Injury report

The ailing Dodgers are finally beginning to heal, with shortstop Rafael Furcal expected to play today for the first time in nearly two weeks and outfielder Marlon Anderson scheduled to make his first appearance of the spring Thursday night.

The Dodgers say they'll go slowly with Furcal, who has been limited to two Grapefruit League at-bats because of a sore right shoulder. But the team is placing no limits on what he can do when he's on the field.

"We'll treat him like it's the first few games of spring training," Little said. "He'll play a few innings, get a couple of at-bats and we'll graduate him up. [But] he's not the kind of player you can tell to restrict his actions out there. He's naturally going to play hard all the time. That's one of the reasons we've held him back as long as we have."

Little said Anderson, who still needs to get some swings in before being game ready, may be the designated hitter in his first few starts. Anderson had arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow in October, then suffered a setback this spring when he tried to rush his rehabilitation.

Jason Repko, the other injured Dodger, remains day to day with a strained right groin.

Versatile Valdez

Wilson Valdez continued his pursuit of a bench job, playing second base and center field and contributing two singles and a run batted in. Valdez, who is hitting .364, leads the team in at-bats with 33.

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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