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DODGERS FYI

Chad Billingsley would like opening day start

Rotation seems set up to hand him the ball on April 6, but pitching coach says it's just coincidence.

March 08, 2009|Dylan Hernandez

PHOENIX — Chad Billingsley said he would be ready if Manager Joe Torre hands him the ball on opening day.

"It would be nice," Billingsley said. "I've never pitched on opening day, so it would be special."

If Billingsley pitches every five days for the remainder of the exhibition season, he would be lined up to pitch in the Dodgers' season opener April 6 in San Diego.

Coincidence?

"Coincidence," pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said, smiling.

Honeycutt noted that the entire pitching staff would rest on the Dodgers' off day Wednesday, which could result in a realignment of the rotation.

"There's still room to make maneuvers," Honeycutt said.

Also under consideration to start on opening day are Hiroki Kuroda and Randy Wolf.

"We're still talking about it," Torre said.

Billingsley, 24, was 16-10 with a 3.14 earned-run average last season. Making his third Cactus League start Saturday, he lowered his spring ERA to 1.29 by throwing three scoreless innings in the Dodgers' 8-7 loss to the Seattle Mariners. He gave up three hits and struck out three.

Honeycutt says he's pleased by the way Billingsley has thrown inside. His reluctance to do so in the playoffs last spring made him the target of criticism inside of the Dodgers' clubhouse.

"Chad's been excellent," Honeycutt said. "He got his breaking ball over, he got some punch-outs with his curveball, his two-seamer was working, he was elevating when he's getting ahead -- he's doing everything we've asked him to do. He's pitched inside more. He's had a really good spring so far."

No haircut

Manny Ramirez's dreadlocks are dangling down to his shoulder blades, but Torre said he won't ask the All-Star outfielder to cut his hair.

Of the two-week push last year to get Ramirez to trim his hair by an inch or two, Torre said, "I'm not getting into that again."

Torre rationalized his decision by saying, "It's not all over the place. It's under control."

Ramirez agreed with the manager's decision.

"This isn't a salon," he said, laughing.

WBC fever

Many of the Dodgers spent their morning huddled around the television sets in the clubhouse, watching the Dominican Republic face the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic.

Rafael Furcal, one of the Dodgers' many Dominican players, was on the receiving end of some playful taunting by Matt Kemp when the Netherlands pulled ahead, 3-0, in the first inning.

The few players who were in the clubhouse for the ninth inning of that game became excited when Willy Taveras was thrown out trying to steal third base in what turned out to be the key play in the Netherlands' 3-2 upset victory. The catcher who threw out Taveras, Kenley Jansen, is a prospect in the Dodgers' organization.

Short hops

Jason Schmidt, who was never healthy enough to pitch in the exhibition season last year, will make his Cactus League debut Monday or Tuesday. . . . The Dodgers' designated hitter Saturday was Casey Blake, who was sidelined with a strained groin. Blake was two for three and drove in a run in his first game of this spring. He will start at third base today when the Dodgers face the Chicago White Sox. . . . Outfielder Xavier Paul's third-inning triple drove in the Dodgers' first run of the game. Paul, 24, hit .316 with nine home runs and 68 runs batted in in 115 games for triple-A Las Vegas last season.

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dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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