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DODGERS REPORT

A special Mother's Day for Tomko

May 13, 2007|Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writer

The tears have dried and the nerves have calmed, but the fight for a cure goes on.

Little more than a year after Brett Tomko's mother, Donna, underwent surgery to remove breast cancer, she remains cancer-free and in high spirits on what should be a very special Mother's Day for the Tomko family today.

"The fact that everything's in remission and she's healthy and feels good and is positive about everything, we're very fortunate considering at this time last year we didn't really know what the prognosis was going to be," Brett Tomko said Saturday before the Dodgers played the Cincinnati Reds at Dodger Stadium.

"Every Mother's Day is special, but it's nice that this one is back to normal."

Donna Tomko, 65, was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer in April 2006 after sons Brett and Scott pushed her to get a mammogram during spring training. She had surgery to remove the tumor shortly thereafter and was found to be cancer-free the following month.

Brett Tomko distributed pink wristbands to his Dodgers teammates on Mother's Day last year to raise awareness about the disease, and today at least 11 Dodgers will join other major leaguers in swinging pink bats to support the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

"I wouldn't say I'm a crusader," Tomko said. "It's affected our family, so I think we're more aware of it and I think it hits home a little bit more."

Tomko said it's still stressful every time his mother, who lives in San Diego and is his biggest supporter, visits the doctor's office these days.

"Every time she goes to get checked up, there's a little bit of tenseness," he said, "but it's been good news every time, so hopefully it continues and we'll be around for a lot more pink bat days."

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The Dodgers' move to increase the pitching staff from 11 to 12 might not be as imminent as it seemed a few days ago, especially after consecutive lengthy outings by starters Randy Wolf (seven innings), Derek Lowe (8 1/3 innings) and Tomko (6 2/3 innings).

"Right now, we're going into this game with two or three guys down there in that bullpen that need to work," Manager Grady Little said before the Dodgers played the Reds. "And so if we're in that situation, the need for 12 is not there yet."

Little also said it was not safe to assume that reliever Yhency Brazoban would be promoted from triple-A Las Vegas once the pitching staff expands; Hong-Chih Kuo and D.J. Houlton are among the others in the mix.

"It depends on how many innings we need out of the person that we go get," Little said. "Our preference is a guy who can get somebody out and help us win games."

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Jason Schmidt played catch for a second consecutive day and said he would continue to do so for the foreseeable future until being cleared to take the next step in his recovery from shoulder inflammation. "It's 'Groundhog Day,' " Schmidt joked after his throwing session.... Struggling third baseman Wilson Betemit took grounders at second base and shortstop in an effort to increase his versatility and could start at one of those positions "any day," Little said. Rookie Andy LaRoche has supplanted Betemit at third.

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ben.bolch@latimes.com

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