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Price liked Dodgers' former site

October 26, 2008|Bill Shaikin | Shaikin is a Times staff writer.

PHILADELPHIA — The last great player to come through Dodgertown might never play for the Dodgers.

David Price, emerging as a star before October eyes, started his professional career there this spring, with six starts for the Vero Beach Devil Rays. Most players rent a home in the community, Price said, but he lived on the Dodgertown campus.

"I loved it," he said. "Probably the best place I stayed all year."

The Dodgers move their spring training base to Arizona next year, but they moved their Class-A team from Vero Beach, Fla., to San Bernardino two years ago, with the Rays fielding a team at Dodgertown. However, the Rays are moving that team next year, to a new complex in Port Charlotte, Fla.

And, for the first time in 62 years, no team will train in Vero Beach next spring. The Baltimore Orioles did not exercise their option to move there for 2009, and Vero Beach officials have not secured a promise from any team to replace the Dodgers beyond then. Those officials have discussed alternative uses for the property if they cannot lure another team.

Price pitched 35 innings for Vero Beach and 14 for Tampa Bay this season, with stops at double A and triple A in between. He could be the last star to come through Dodgertown, although he hopes otherwise.

"Hopefully, they don't ever shut that field down," Price said. "That's a historic site."

Dodger blues

The Dodgers drafted Price out of high school, in 2004, even though he and his family had made it clear he would attend Vanderbilt. They took a flier on him in the 19th round, just in case he changed his mind.

"I didn't even know I got drafted," Price said.

Logan White, the Dodgers' assistant general manager for scouting, said Price threw from 88 to 93 mph in high school. He has added about 5 mph to his fastball since then and mastered a terrific slider.

"A lot of teams thought he was good, not just the Dodgers," White said. "I don't think anybody was thinking he would be the No. 1 pick in the draft three years later."

Built to last

Ruben Amaro rode in the Philadelphia Phillies' last championship parade, in 1980, as the son of one of the coaches.

"That was kind of the golden era of the Phillies," said Amaro, now the assistant general manager and the favorite to succeed the retiring Pat Gillick as general manager.

The Phillies advanced to the playoffs six times in eight years from 1976 to 1983, with a homegrown core that featured Mike Schmidt, Larry Bowa, Bob Boone and Greg Luzinski.

The Phillies have won consecutive National League East championships for the first time in 30 years, with a homegrown core that features Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley.

Best of five

Commissioner Bud Selig wants to get rid of two or three off days in the October schedule, yet he does not want to extend the first round from five games to seven.

"The five-game series is very fair," Selig said. "I think there's something very tense and dramatic."

We counted

Jim Healy would have loved Joe Blanton. Healy, the late broadcaster who had the greatest sports show in Los Angeles radio history, delighted in poking fun at athletes who could not stop dropping "you know" into their comments.

Blanton starts tonight for the Phillies. In a news conference on Saturday, Blanton said "you know" 15 times in a seven-sentence answer.


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