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Blake DeWitt, Chin-lung Hu star in Dodgers' win over Arizona

DeWitt is three for five with a home run and a double, Hu is two for five.

April 01, 2009|Dylan Hernandez

TUCSON — Blake DeWitt isn't the only young infielder making a push to make the opening-day roster.

With shortstop Rafael Furcal requiring regular days off to rest his surgically repaired back -- Manager Joe Torre says he wants to sit him about once a week early in the season -- the Dodgers are taking a strong look at Chin-lung Hu.

"Hu, to me, has been the star of the spring," Torre said.

Hu has advantages over two of his main competitors for a utility infield role. Unlike DeWitt, he's a natural middle infielder. And unlike Juan Castro, he's on the 40-man roster, meaning the Dodgers wouldn't have to designate anyone for assignment if they include him on the opening-day roster.

"Coming into this spring, I really didn't know what to expect," Torre said.

"This kid, his whole demeanor has changed."

Hu was forced into a reserve role as a rookie last year and struggled, batting .181 in 65 games. He was two for five in the Dodgers' 10-9 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday to raise his spring average to .280.

"Last year, I tried to think too much," said Hu, who hit .159 in the 23 games he started last season in place of Furcal.

Hu said he still doesn't know what caused the blurred vision in his right eye that he blamed for his problems at the plate.

One doctor told him his eye was fluttering around.

Another told him it might have something to do with his blood flow.

Either way, Hu said, the problem appears to be more or less behind him.


Oh man, Ohman

Situational left-hander Will Ohman, who signed a one-year minor league deal with the Dodgers on Monday, looked like someone who hadn't pitched this spring on Tuesday.

The first batter he faced, Chad Tracy, homered over the right-field wall.

He walked Conor Jackson, who stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitched that bounced in front of home plate, hit catcher Brad Ausmus in the shin guard and flew halfway back to the mound.

Ohman struck out Miguel Montero to get out of the inning.

He at least had a sense of humor when reviewing his outing.

"Obviously, signing so late, I wanted to bring as much attention to myself as possible," said Ohman, who will start the season in triple-A Albuquerque but is expected to be called up within two weeks.

Before the game, Ohman talked about how he turned down a two-year offer in November from his previous employer, the Atlanta Braves. That contract offer was far more lucrative than the $1.35-million deal he signed with the Dodgers.

"Initially, there was regret," Ohman said. "For me to live at that address with that mind-set wouldn't have done anything positive for me because there was nothing to foresee there would be a downturn of this magnitude."

Of how long he had to wait to sign, Ohman said, "I felt like I was excommunicated, like I was off in Siberia."


McDonald does enough

Torre wouldn't commit to James McDonald's being the Dodgers' fifth starter but made it clear the 24-year-old rookie didn't pitch poorly enough to take himself out of the rotation. McDonald tossed a spring-high 4 1/3 innings and was charged with three runs and six hits. He threw 72 pitches.

"He was OK," Torre said. "He really hasn't done anything wrong for me. I've been really pleased with what I've seen from him. He's certainly taken the opportunity and done something with it for me."

McDonald will start the Dodgers' exhibition finale on Sunday in San Francisco.


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