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DODGERS REPORT

Maza is eager to take advantage of call-up

May 14, 2008|Kevin Baxter | Times Staff Writer

MILWAUKEE -- After waiting 10 years to be called up from the minors, Luis Maza was understandably eager to put on a big league uniform for the first time. Which is why he showed up early at Milwaukee's Miller Park on Monday.

Problem was, the Dodgers weren't scheduled to play there until Tuesday.

"A guy met me at the door and said, 'No, today St. Louis is playing. Tomorrow your team plays,' " Maza said.

So a stadium attendant put him back in a taxi and sent him off to the Dodgers team hotel. But give Maza points for enthusiasm.

"I'm going to work hard now," said Maza, who was summoned from triple-A Las Vegas to take the roster spot vacated by Rafael Furcal, who went on the disabled list Monday because of lower-back soreness.

Despite his versatility -- Maza has played at least five positions each of the last two seasons -- the 27-year-old Venezuelan has had as many as 500 at-bats only once in his professional career. So he credits his success this season to Las Vegas Manager Lorenzo Bundy.

"He gave me the opportunity to play every day. And I'm here because of him," said Maza, who was batting .402 when he was called up.

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Nomar Garciaparra, on the disabled list since April 26 because of a strained left calf, had his return delayed when he came up sore after doing some agility drills and taking grounders Tuesday.

"I felt like I was able to push it more. And I ran harder," Garciaparra said. "At the same time I wasn't able to do as much as I wanted to do."

The Dodgers had hoped to send Garciaparra on a minor league rehab assignment early this week.

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Closer Takashi Saito, wearing two jackets and a long-sleeve sweat shirt in the Dodgers clubhouse Tuesday afternoon, said rest, an IV and medicine has helped alleviate the flu-like symptoms that sidelined him over the weekend. But he's still not well enough to pitch. In the meantime, Jonathan Broxton will be the closer.

Manager Joe Torre also held struggling center fielder Andruw Jones out of the starting lineup for a second game in a row, although he did use him as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning, with Jones battling Eric Gagne through a 10-pitch at-bat before drawing a walk.

"I'm just trying to clear his mind a little bit," Torre said of Jones, who is hitting .170 with a team-high 38 strikeouts. "The biggest thing now that Andruw is dealing is with is just trying to relax at the plate."

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The Dodgers have not decided on a starter for Saturday's game in Anaheim but Torre has all but ruled out one possibility -- minor leaguer Clayton Kershaw.

Kershaw dazzled in spring training, giving up only one run and striking out 19 in 14 innings. And the Dodgers' double-A affiliate in Jacksonville has juggled its rotation to make sure the left-hander would be available to start Saturday. But Torre said Kershaw didn't pitch well in his last outing, giving up five runs in 3 1/3 innings. He's 0-3 with a 2.21 earned-run average.

"I know they've lined him up," Torre said. "But to me it's doubtful."

Other candidates include left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo and right-hander Chan Ho Park, both of whom are in the Dodgers bullpen.

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kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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