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DODGERS SPRING REPORT

Will Ohman and team finalize one-year deal

Left-handed reliever will probably start the season in triple A and can opt out of the contract if he isn't promoted by April 14.

March 31, 2009|Dylan Hernandez

PHOENIX — The batter's box could be a place where hearts beat faster and palms become moist on nights Jonathan Broxton takes the mound this season.

The Dodgers' closer with the 100-mph fastball says he intends to pitch inside more this season, part of a concerted effort to increase discomfort for hitters.

"People won't dive at every pitch," Broxton said.

Or, as Dodgers third base coach Larry Bowa put it, "When a guy who throws between 95 and 100 hits you, it doesn't feel too good."

Broxton's own fear is what made him reluctant to use the inside of the plate in the past -- namely, his fear of missing his spot and throwing a down-the-middle fastball.

He says he thinks he has found a solution: a two-seam fastball that runs down and in on right-handed hitters.

"I'm starting to throw that pitch this year," Broxton said. "I didn't throw it enough the last couple of years."

If he misses, Broxton said, "it'll still have some action down."

Broxton added the pitch to his arsenal at the insistence of pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, who heard from scouts that Broxton's tendency to pitch away from hitters was becoming common knowledge around the league.

"You never want anyone to have a comfortable at-bat," Honeycutt said. "It's about not being predictable. You can't just live off one side of the plate."

Whether Broxton has thrown enough this spring to become comfortable using that pitch in games remains uncertain. Because he spent three weeks at the World Baseball Classic, Broxton has pitched in only eight games this spring, including the four he appeared in for Team USA.

Broxton pitched a scoreless inning in the Dodgers' 9-5 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Monday, and he is scheduled to pitch in consecutive games for the first time this spring on Thursday and Friday in Los Angeles.

Ohman added

Left-hander Will Ohman was signed to a one-year deal to be the situational left-hander in the Dodgers' bullpen.

Ohman, 31, pitched for the Atlanta Braves last season and was 4-1 with a 3.68 earned-run average in 83 games. Left-handed hitters batted .200 against him.

"That's our matchup guy," Manager Joe Torre said.

Because Ohman hasn't pitched in a game this spring and the Dodgers want him to start the season at triple-A Albuquerque, he was signed to a minor league contract.

If Ohman gets called up -- something General Manager Ned Colletti says will happen unless the pitcher is injured -- he'll earn a base salary of $1.35 million this season. Ohman can opt out of the contract if he is not promoted by April 14.

The contract includes a $2.2-million club option for 2010 that the Dodgers can buy out for $200,000. Ohman's base salary in 2010 would increase to $2.3 million if he pitches in 80 games this season.

Ohman can earn an additional $425,000 in incentives this year -- $325,000 based on games pitched and $100,000 based on games finished. He can receive $475,000 in bonus pay in 2010 if his option is picked up -- $375,000 based on games finished and $100,000 based on games finished.

Ohman is expected to travel with the Dodgers to Tucson today to face the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Ohman said Sunday that he has been throwing regularly this spring in Arizona.

"I've definitely been training with the purpose of being ready for opening day," Ohman said.

Short hops

The Dodgers distributed a total of 131,134 tickets for their 14 home games at Camelback Ranch this spring, an average of 9,367 a game. Their highest average reported attendance at their previous spring training home in Vero Beach, Fla., of 6,504 per game was set in 1991. . . . Manny Ramirez won't travel to Tucson today, but he will play left field in the Dodgers' Cactus League finale in Scottsdale on Wednesday against the San Francisco Giants. . . . Russell Martin was scratched from Monday's game because he had flu. . . . Torre hinted strongly that Jeff Weaver will make the opening-day roster as a long reliever. . . . Top prospect Ivan DeJesus Jr., who suffered a broken leg this spring, says he expects to play this year.

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dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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