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DODGERS FYI

Jones tries hand at first base

August 25, 2008|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- Andruw Jones had played 1,835 games in the major leagues and another 324 games in the minor leagues without ever playing first base.

Until Saturday night, that is. Jones, on a rehabilitation assignment at triple-A Las Vegas, played first base -- at his request.

The Dodgers invested $36 million in Jones as a center fielder. Yet the club management and training staff approved his request, deciding the risk of injury at an unfamiliar position did not warrant holding him out of the lineup.

"That's what we obviously balanced," General Manager Ned Colletti said Sunday. "His knee wasn't feeling as good as he wanted, but he didn't want to sit out another day."

Jones, on the disabled list because of tendinitis in his left knee, arrived in Las Vegas nine days ago and played three games before stepping into a hole in the outfield and irritating his surgically repaired right knee.

Las Vegas could not use the designated hitter Saturday, in a game between National League affiliates, so Jones persuaded club officials to let him return to the lineup at first base, saying his movements would be limited there and that he had played the position on occasion in spring training with the Atlanta Braves.

Jones had two hits and stole a base, playing six innings at first base before leaving for a defensive replacement.

He did not play Sunday, in what Colletti said was a previously scheduled day off. Colletti said the position Jones would play today had not been decided.

Manager Joe Torre downplayed -- but did not rule out -- the notion that Jones could see any playing time at first base when he returns to the Dodgers.

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And at bat . . .

Jones is batting .385 in four games at Las Vegas, with two home runs and two strikeouts in 13 at-bats. He hit .161 in 74 games with the Dodgers, with three home runs and 74 strikeouts.

The Dodgers have assigned roving hitting instructor Jeff Pentland to Las Vegas, specifically to work with Jones.

"He and Pentland have been working on a lot of different things. We'll see if he can translate it to the big leagues when the time comes," Colletti said. "The reports have been positive before, so we'll have to see."

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Winter ball

Dodgers coach Mariano Duncan, who has not managed at any level, said he will manage the La Romana club in the Dominican Republic this winter. He said he is not yet sure whether he wants to manage in the majors.

"I want to see if I like it," he said.

Infielder Angel Berroa and pitcher Ramon Troncoso of the Dodgers are expected to play for La Romana this winter, Duncan said.

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Short hops

Closer Takashi Saito is expected to pitch off a mound this weekend, for the first time since suffering a sprained elbow ligament six weeks ago; Torre said another setback for Saito could mean surgery. "It's something he would have to take a hard look at," Torre said. . . . Scott Proctor and Jason Schmidt each are scheduled to pitch twice this week at Las Vegas. . . . Torre said he did not anticipate any player acquisitions by the Aug. 31 deadline for postseason eligibility. . . . Blake DeWitt, the Dodgers' opening-day third baseman, went five for five Sunday as the Las Vegas second baseman. DeWitt has 11 hits in his last 19 at-bats.

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bill.shaikin@latimes.com

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