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James Loney makes an early statement

The first baseman continues his strong spring with three hits, despite being the only regular to make the long bus trip for a game with the Rockies.

March 30, 2010|By Dylan Hernandez

Reporting from Tucson — Back in Phoenix, some of the players who weren't forced to board the 7:45 a.m. team bus expressed their relief of having avoided a four-hour round trip to the Cactus League's easternmost outpost.

Only one projected starter was forced to make the trip here on Tuesday: James Loney.

But Loney being Loney, there were no complaints from the first baseman, only the usual variety of quirky comments and smiles.

A player once called "very left-handed" by former teammate Randy Wolf, Loney pointed out the positives of making the trip, among them that he was named the Dodgers' honorary captain by bench coach Bob Schaefer.

Loney later learned he was a part of history. Because the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks will move into a shared complex in Scottsdale next spring, the Dodgers' 3-1 loss to the Rockies on Tuesday marked their last game in this college town (University of Arizona).

"I might have to take something," Loney said as he looked around the visiting clubhouse at Hi Corbett Field.

More serious, and important, for Loney was that he said he thought everything he worked on this spring came together.

Loney was three for four, raising his average to .333.

"I felt today was the last thing toward getting it right, my approach," Loney said. "We've been working on it so much."

Specifically, squaring up the ball and not spinning off.

Loney has only one home run this spring but thinks his power is improving as a result.

"This spring, I hit some of the hardest balls I've ever hit," he said.

Manager Joe Torre said he was pleased with the progress Loney has made.

"I think he's getting a lot closer to being the guy he's eventually going to be," Torre said.

Stults to be sold to Japanese team

Left-hander Eric Stults was removed from the fifth-starter competition, as the Dodgers moved toward finalizing a deal to sell the left-hander to the Hiroshima Carp of Japan's Central League.

The Dodgers are expected to receive $300,000 to $400,000 for the 30-year-old Stults, who was 8-10 in a major league career that spanned 35 games, including 24 starts. He pitched a shutout in each of the last two seasons.

But his chances of making the team evaporated this spring, as he fell behind the likes of Charlie Haeger, Ramon Ortiz, Russ Ortiz, Carlos Monasterios and Josh Towers in the race for the final rotation spot.

Because Stults was out of options and the Dodgers would have risked losing him to waivers had they not put him on their opening-day roster, they shopped him over the last several weeks.

Short hops

Outfielder Jason Repko has been put on waivers, according to The Dodgers have only three vacancies on their 40-man roster and several non-roster players are candidates to make the club, including Garret Anderson, Nick Green, Jeff Weaver and Ramon Oritz. Josh Lindblom will start the season in the minors, Torre said.

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