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Randy Wolf keeps his eye on the big picture

With the economy struggling, pitcher didn't complain about losing out on a three-year, $28.5-million deal.

March 03, 2009|Dylan Hernandez

PHOENIX — Instead of pitching in front of thousands of people, Randy Wolf threw Monday in front of a couple of dozen.

At 9:30 in the morning.

With a day off less than a week into the Cactus League season, the Dodgers asked the Milwaukee Brewers to visit for an abbreviated "B" game, in part so that Wolf and other pitchers could remain on their throwing schedules.

"You make do with what you have," said Wolf, who gave up two runs and three hits in two innings.

Wolf had to adopt that mind-set this winter as the economy played havoc with the free-agent market.

The left-hander, who pitched for the Dodgers in 2007, nearly signed a three-year, $28.5-million contract with the Houston Astros -- only to have the club pull back its offer.

That was a sign of what was to come. Some offers disappeared overnight, Wolf said. Others were slashed.

"I didn't think I was going to be starting spring training on time," Wolf said. "I prepared myself for that mentally and emotionally."

In the end, Wolf settled on a one-year deal guaranteed for $5 million with the Dodgers. He can earn as much as $3 million in incentive pay, two-thirds of which would be deferred without interest.

But Wolf didn't complain, not with the country's unemployment rate soaring. Wolf is so sensitive to the economic realities of the average American that he campaigned for baseball teams to scale back ticket prices.

"Americans are losing jobs," he said. "They're not spending money, obviously, because they don't know what their next paycheck will be. People want an escape still. They still want to get out of their daily grinds and have something to root for."

Tough break

The "B" game may have cost the Dodgers their reigning minor league player of the year. Ivan DeJesus Jr. suffered a broken left leg sliding into Milwaukee catcher Carlos Corporan.

Manager Joe Torre speculated that the 21-year-old middle-infield prospect would miss the season.

The decision on whether to operate on DeJesus' leg will be made today, team spokesman Josh Rawitch said.

"It's a whole season," Torre said. "Hopefully, that's all. His age, obviously, would be on his side."

DeJesus, the son of the former major leaguer, made significant strides as a hitter last year, batting .324 with seven home runs and 58 runs batted in at double-A Jacksonville. His .309 average ranked 10th in the Puerto Rican winter league.

"I'm learning the type of hitter that I am," DeJesus said. "I'm more of a contact hitter. I'm concentrating more on being a gap-to-gap hitter, hit-and-run stuff."

Prospect watch

Only two players from the Dodgers' organization made Baseball America's list of the game's top 100 prospects: outfielder Andrew Lambo (No. 49) and pitcher James McDonald (No. 56).

McDonald, 24, a September call-up who made the playoff roster last year, is competing for a spot on the Dodgers' major league staff.

Lambo, 20, a fourth-round draft pick in 2007 from Newbury Park High, hit 18 home runs in his second year of pro ball.

Manny update

Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti said he had no update on his team's negotiations with Manny Ramirez.

From the other side of the country, New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman downplayed speculation about his club's interest in Ramirez, saying, "I can say we never made an offer."


Times staff writer Bill Shaikin contributed to this report.


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