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Cleaning up on defense is no chore for Furcal

March 06, 2010|Dylan Hernandez

PHOENIX — A couple of days before the Dodgers' 8-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Friday in their Cactus League opener, Rafael Furcal was looking like his old self again.

Third base coach Larry Bowa hit grounder after grounder to him, and Furcal swallowed each up.

One was hit to Furcal's backhand side, prompting Matt Kemp to shout, "I'm safe on that one!"

"No chance!" Furcal shouted back, as he scooped up the ball and made a throw across his body to first base in one fluid motion.

Come Friday, nothing had changed.

Furcal had three balls hit to him in his three innings on the field; he had three assists.

Furcal said that because his surgically repaired back has fully healed, he has been able to take more grounders from Bowa than a year ago.

"I'm not afraid about my body," he said. "I feel healthy."

Manny being the Manny of old

Manny Ramirez collected an infield hit in the first inning and an up-the-middle single in the fourth.

Manager Joe Torre said Ramirez looked more like the player he was two seasons ago than the player who slumped badly after returning from a 50-game drug suspension last year.

"He looked like he had balance, even the first pitch he took in the game," Torre said. "There was balance I didn't see when he came back last year."

Ethier makes offer

Andre Ethier has worn No. 16 throughout his major league career, but he offered the uniform number to former Angels outfielder Garret Anderson, who signed a minor league contract with the Dodgers this week.

The idea was quashed by clubhouse manager Mitch Poole, who pointed out the ramifications of Ethier's changing uniform numbers -- among them, that Ethier's replica jerseys and bobblehead dolls would have to be remade.

Anderson will wear No. 00. (The Dodgers also have a No. 0 in camp, utilityman Alfredo Amezaga.)

"It's the only number I've worn since I've been in the big leagues," Ethier said. "But at the same time, he wore it how many -- 16, 17 seasons? He deserves it."

Anderson wore the number for 15 seasons with the Angels. He wore No. 18 with the Atlanta Braves last season.

Blake delivers

Casey Blake hit the ball high to left field, prompting his teammates to scream and mob him at the plate.

Blake's swing capped a weeklong intrasquad competition in which teams were rewarded points for moving runners over in a variety of situations.

Blake's fly ball, which simulated a sacrifice fly with a man on third, lifted the team captained by James Loney to a one-point victory over the one captained by Russell Martin.

"Some of the guys maybe thought it was a waste of time or whatever, but those were the losers," Blake said, smirking.

But Reed Johnson, who was on Team Martin, said the drill helped him drive in a pair of runs in his first game as a Dodger.

"If the points ran into the game, we would've taken the lead," Johnson said.

Tickets on sale

Single-game tickets for the regular season can be purchased starting at 10 a.m. PST Saturday at dodgers .com, via telephone at 866-DODGERS or in person in Lot P of Dodger Stadium.




Dodgers 8, Chicago White Sox 3

AT THE PLATE: Off-season acquisition Reed Johnson drove in the Dodgers' first two runs of the spring, his ground-out in the second inning scoring Casey Blake and his up-the-middle single in the fourth bringing in Blake DeWitt. Manny Ramirez was two for three, and DeWitt was one for two with a walk and a run.

ON THE MOUND: Vicente Padilla tossed two perfect innings before giving way to fifth-starter candidate Ramon Ortiz, who struck out three over two scoreless innings. Charlie Haeger, another fifth-starter candidate, gave up a run as a result of a passed ball.

EXTRA BASES: DeWitt, who is competing to be the starting second baseman, made some nice plays on defense. Doug Mientkiewicz doubled in his only at-bat.

UP NEXT: Left-hander Eric Stults will start Saturday's noon PST game against the Chicago White Sox in Phoenix.

ON THE AIR: TV: Prime Ticket; Radio: 930 (Spanish).

-- Dylan Hernandez

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