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Regulars get start for sake of fans

September 26, 2008|Dylan Hernandez | Times Staff Writer

Although the NL West crown belonged to the Dodgers by the time they took the field for their final home game of the regular season, Manager Joe Torre opted to start most of his regular position players.

"We'll give the fans a chance to recognize them," Torre said.

The lone exception was Russell Martin, who has played in 152 games, including 147 at catcher.

By including recently activated Jeff Kent and Rafael Furcal in the lineup, he gave them a chance to receive standing ovations from the home crowd when they were removed from the game in the top of the fourth inning against the San Diego Padres. It could have marked the last time they played at home as Dodgers.

Kent has said this season would most likely be his last and Furcal is a free agent at the end of the season.

Manny Ramirez was removed from the game in the top of the fifth.

Looking ahead

The Dodgers plan to start Derek Lowe in Game 1 of the NL division series and Chad Billingsley in Game 2, according to club sources. Lowe will start today in San Francisco, so that he could pitch in the opening game of the playoffs on Wednesday on normal four days' rest. Billingsley has been scratched from his scheduled start in the Dodgers' regular-season on Sunday.

Torre said he wouldn't name his playoff rotation until this weekend, adding that he didn't know if he would go with a three- or four-man rotation.

With an eye on the postseason, Torre pushed back Greg Maddux's start on Thursday to Saturday. That, in turn, moved back Hiroki Kuroda to Sunday.

Eric Stults replaced Maddux as the starting pitcher and gave up three runs in 4 2/3 innings in his first big-league game since July 21.

Penny vanishes

The locker of Brad Penny was empty Thursday and Penny himself was nowhere to be seen.

The Dodgers' opening-day starter, Penny was placed on the 60-day disabled list Wednesday to open up a spot on the 40-man roster for Furcal. Penny is ineligible for postseason play.

Torre said he had no idea about Penny's whereabouts.

"I didn't get a chance to say hello or goodbye," Torre said. "He was here yesterday and he disappeared. I didn't ask him to leave."

General Manager Ned Colletti said he spoke Wednesday to Penny's agent, Greg Genske, but refused to divulge the nature of their conversation. Genske did not return voice messages.

Penny, who has a $9.25-million option for next season that could be bought out for $2 million, said this month that he was disappointed that the Dodgers refused to extend his contract this spring. Trainer Stan Conte said that as far as he knew, Penny would remain under his watch as he rehabilitated his ailing shoulder over the next six weeks.

Short hops

Takashi Saito pitched a shaky eighth inning, giving up a walk, a hit and an earned run. He threw 20 pitches and topped out at 93 mph. . . . Ramirez, who hasn't missed a start for the Dodgers, said he wants to start each of the remaining regular-season games, with the possible exception of the last one. Torre said Ramirez would set his own playing schedule. . . . The Dodgers will return home Sunday from their regular-season finale in San Francisco and take part in a rally at 6 p.m. that evening. Admission is free. . . . The Dodgers drew 52,569 fans Thursday to raise their season attendance total to 3,730,750. The season total was down from the 3,857,036 fans they drew last year and marked the first attendance decrease since 1998.

Times staff writer Bill Shaikin contributed to this report.


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