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Down The Line

September 14, 2008|Bill Shaikin

I don't know? He's on third

Casey Blake wants to return to the Cleveland Indians, Andy LaRoche was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates and Blake DeWitt now plays second base.

If the Dodgers keep DeWitt at second, who plays third base next season?

Adrian Beltre still keeps a home in Pasadena. He's 29, with one year left on his contract with the Seattle Mariners, at $12 million.

He had a career year with the Dodgers, in 2004, when he hit .334 with 48 home runs. He was hitting .270 with 25 homers through Friday, despite playing all season with a torn ligament in his left thumb. He has three consecutive 25-homer seasons, a feat last accomplished for the Dodgers by Gary Sheffield, and Beltre remains a premier defender.

He's the Mariners' best trade chip, so the Dodgers wouldn't get him for free, and the Dodgers have weakened the depth of their farm system by trading six prospects for Blake, Manny Ramirez and Greg Maddux.

Beltre wouldn't mind staying in Seattle, but the Mariners need to hire a general manager and get on with rebuilding. Assuming they do, Beltre would love to come back to the Dodgers.

"If I'm available, I'd be happy to," he said. "I don't know what is going to happen. I'd be more than happy to come back to L.A. It's not under my control."

Please, pretty please: Hit like you used to

If you're keeping one eye on 2009, the player to watch this September is Travis Hafner.

The Indians do not spend money freely, and their four-year, $57-million contract extension with Hafner kicks in next year. Since 2006, his batting average has fallen from .308 to .266 to .224, his OPS from 1.098 to .836 to .684.

The Indians activated him last week, after he sat out three months because of a shoulder injury. If he can reclaim his status as an elite hitter, Cleveland can focus on its bullpen this winter and challenge for an AL Central title next season.

The Indians' relievers rank last in the AL in earned-run average, at 5.12. Their starters rank fourth, at 3.79, even after trading CC Sabathia. The Indians' record since that trade, through Friday: 35-23.

That Molina reunion? October looks open

For the first time in five years, the playoffs could go on without any of the catching Molina brothers.

Bengie, Jose and Yadier Molina all made the playoffs in 2004 and '05, Bengie and Jose with the Angels and Yadier with the St. Louis Cardinals. Yadier and the Cardinals won the World Series in '06, and Jose got to the playoffs with the New York Yankees in '07.

They're all in fourth place now -- Bengie with the San Francisco Giants, Jose with the Yankees and Yadier with the Cardinals.

Mingling with All-Stars and Hollywood stars

Talk about driving up the heart rate of a 74-year-old man: There was Bud Selig at the Kodak Theater last week, chatting with Katie Couric, sitting a few feet away from Jennifer Aniston.

Selig had a front-row seat for the Stand Up to Cancer telethon, with Angels owner Arte Moreno and Dodgers President Jamie McCourt among baseball dignitaries seated nearby. As commissioner, Selig sold the owners on donating $10 million to the cause.

"It's moments like this when you realize what you should do and what you can do," he said, "and you're grateful you had the opportunity to do it."

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