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DODGERS FYI

Young has a tough task in a rare start

June 02, 2008|Dylan Hernandez | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- When it was mentioned that Delwyn Young had to face New York Mets ace Johan Santana in only his second start this season, Dodgers Manager Joe Torre offered a different perspective.

"He gets the chance to face Santana," Torre said.

Young, who is hitting .280 as a pinch-hitter, shrugged when asked about the prospect of hitting against Santana.

"If it's going to be once a month, I want a challenge," Young said.

Young's start Sunday was his first in the outfield. The other time he was in the starting lineup was May 11 at second base.

"Let the kid out of the cage," first baseman James Loney said as he walked by Young's locker.

Part of the reason that the switch-hitting Young was in the starting lineup was to sit Andre Ethier, who is hitting .167 against left-handers. But Torre said that with center fielder Andruw Jones recovering from knee surgery, Young had a chance to earn regular playing time in the outfield.

"You figured you'd like to play the same three guys all the time, but we figured we'd take this opportunity to throw him out there and maybe add him to the mix to get guys days off," Torre said.

The 25-year-old rookie said that spending significant time on the bench for the first time in his life hasn't been easy.

But he said the view from the bench has changed the way he sees the game.

"I concentrate more on the little things," he said.

The view from behind home plate has also benefited Young. In addition to shagging in the outfield and taking grounders at second, Young catches a few bullpen sessions every week to prepare himself as the Dodgers' emergency catcher (he caught Brad Penny on Saturday). Doing so has helped his selectivity at the plate, Young said.

But is he ready to catch in a game?

Told that Russell Martin would be rested today, Young said, "No, no. Don't ever look at me. We are not ready for that."

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In his first minor league rehab start on four days' rest, Jason Schmidt gave up two runs and four hits over 3 2/3 innings for Class-A Inland Empire. He threw 65 pitches.

Schmidt, who underwent season-ending shoulder surgery last June, consistently threw his fastball in the low 90s.

The maximum of 30 days that a pitcher can spend in the minors on a rehab assignment will expire for Schmidt after June 9, but Torre said, "We think he needs to go from that."

The Dodgers might have found a way to extend Schmidt's assignment -- or, technically, send him on a new one with a new ailment -- as Schmidt was hit on the calf with a batted ball.

"If someone's not ready, I don't think they should be made to be ready because then it defeats the purpose of rehab," Torre said. "We're not trying to get away with anything, obviously. He had major surgery last year."

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Andy LaRoche has played his last two games at triple-A Las Vegas at second base, making it through both contests without making an error. In his first game at the position, on Saturday, LaRoche turned a double play.

LaRoche, who is hitting .265 at triple A, has also played games recently at first base, since it appears that rookie Blake DeWitt will stick as the Dodgers' starting third baseman.

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Derek Lowe spent his 35th birthday flying to Los Angeles to get ready for his start today at Dodger Stadium against Colorado.

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dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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