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DODGERS FYI

Orlando Hudson sees fewer African Americans in the majors

On Jackie Robinson Day around the majors, the Dodgers' second baseman believes many fellow African Americans are dissuaded from playing baseball by a perceived lack of opportunities.

April 16, 2009|Dylan Hernandez

On the night every player in baseball wore No. 42 to celebrate the 62nd anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in the major leagues, Orlando Hudson said that Robinson "would probably turn over in his grave" seeing how few African Americans are in the game.

Hudson, who is African American, said he has had black kids tell him, "Orlando, I can't play that white man's game."

The increased popularity of basketball and football among African Americans isn't the only reason they're not playing baseball, Hudson said.

"There aren't too many blacks in baseball, period," Hudson said. "They feel like they won't get that chance. You watch the College World Series, how many African Americans do you see?"

Asked if he thought African Americans faced greater obstacles to break into the game, Hudson said, "You remember when Gary Sheffield said a black man cannot be a bench player and play this game? There's no place for us as a bench player.

"You look at it, you know, Brandon Phillips plays every day. Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard play every day. [I] play every day. Vernon Wells plays every day. [Carl] Crawford plays every day. [Mike] Cameron plays every day. Bill Hall plays every day. I don't know too many African American bench players. Can y'all name one?"

Gary Matthews Jr.?

"They're trying to get him out," Hudson said. "He wants out. He's not happy over there, right? He's got to be careful because he might find his way out of baseball the way the economy is."

Lenny Harris?

"He did," Hudson said. "You just named one."

Juan Pierre?

"That's just started, right?"

Tony Phillips?

"He started most of his career, though. . . . You just named two guys."

Hudson said he was trying to do something about it, using the day to announce plans for his Around the Mound Tour. He and other players, including Pierre and Torii Hunter of the Angels, will visit schools in various cities to promote baseball in African American communities.

Kuroda still hurting

Opening-day starter Hiroki Kuroda said that he probably won't be ready to pitch April 22, the day he's eligible to be activated from the disabled list.

Kuroda was scratched from his second start of the season last week because he strained a muscle in his left side in a bullpen session.

"It's not getting better the way I thought it would," Kuroda said.

Kuroda played catch Monday but has since backed off.

Trainer Stan Conte said Kuroda will probably have to pitch in a simulation or minor league game before returning to the rotation.

Stults ready

Left-hander Eric Stults, who was called up from triple-A Albuquerque to make an emergency start in place of Kuroda, will take another turn in the rotation Thursday in the series finale against the San Francisco Giants.

Frequently shuttled between the majors and minors in recent years, the 29-year-old left-hander said he is aware that one bad start could result in his next demotion.

"I want to stay here and prove I can be consistent," said Stults, who beat Arizona on Saturday by giving up only one run over 5 1/3 innings.

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dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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