Reporting from Phoenix — Manny Ramirez will be part of the Dodgers' split squad that will travel to Taiwan this month.
So say the Dodgers.
In the news release announcing the 33-man roster for the March 12-14 exhibition series, the Dodgers were careful to include the following line: "Additional players may be added or changed prior to the March 10 departure."
James Loney, Ronnie Belliard, Jamey Carroll and Taiwan natives Hong-Chih Kuo and Chin-lung Hu are also on the roster.
Ramirez initially volunteered for the trip because of commercial opportunities that would be available to him in Taiwan, but later told club officials he wasn't sure.
On Monday, Ramirez submitted a passport and visa application to the club. In addition, the team received assurances from the agency that represents Ramirez that he will go on the trip.
"We fully expect he'll make the trip," Dodgers spokesman Josh Rawitch said. "We take him at his word."
Still, some club officials are worried that Ramirez could once again change his mind.
"They announced it?" one club official asked.
Told yes, the official exploded laughing.
Ramirez once bailed on an overseas tour mid-trip, leaving after only three games of a major league all-star team's eight-game tour of Japan in 2004.
Ramirez hasn't talked about the Taiwan trip, not even on Tuesday.
Hu said that if Ramirez makes the trip, it will be a huge deal in Taiwan.
"Everybody loves him," Hu said.
The reason: Taiwan's most popular athlete is Nationals pitcher Chien-Ming Wang, who frequently faced Ramirez when he was on the Yankees and Ramirez was on the Red Sox.
Ramirez is a career .536 hitter with two home runs and six runs batted in 28 at-bats against Wang.
Fight for fifth spot
This was only a practice game — unofficial, even by spring training standards — but Eric Stults said he had butterflies in his stomach.
"It's a big spring for me," Stults said.
One of the candidates to be the fifth starter, Stults is out of minor league options, meaning that if the doesn't make the 25-man roster, the Dodgers will be forced to put him on waivers and give other teams a chance to claim him.
Stults' spring started with a scoreless inning Tuesday morning in a "B" game against of lineup of White Sox minor leaguers, as the left-hander gave up a hit and struck out two.
Stults has been outstanding at times — he's thrown a shutout in the majors in each of the last two seasons — but has had trouble with consistency. To get over the self-doubt that he believes is the source of his problems, he has worked extensively with Dana Sinclair, the sports psychologist on the Dodgers' payroll.
Stults said that he doesn't feel any more pressure because he is out of options, and points out that if he gets let go, he could get a chance to pitch in the majors for someone else.
"If I go in and do what I am capable of, then I think the pressure is on them," he said. "They have to make the decision if they want to keep me or risk losing me on waivers."
The Dodgers won the "B" game, 4-2.... Another fifth starter candidate, knuckleballer Charlie Haeger, gave up a second-inning solo home run to Josh Kroeger.... Ivan DeJesus drove in two runs for the Dodgers on a fifth-inning single.