Dodgers starting pitcher Tim Redding delivers a pitch against the San Francisco… (Rob Tringali / Getty Images )
Reporting from Phoenix — Teams in Asia didn't want him.
Now, they might need him.
Only months removed from being told by clubs in South Korea and Japan that they wouldn't offer him a contract, it appears that Tim Redding could be the Dodgers' fifth starter at the beginning of the regular season.
"I'm not counting on anything yet," Redding said. "But I'm getting close."
Mindful that Jon Garland and Vicente Padilla are recovering from injuries that could make them unavailable when the fifth spot in the rotation comes up for the first time April 12, Redding has started exploring housing options in Los Angeles.
A veteran of six major league seasons, the 33-year-old journeyman is 1-0 with a 3.00 earned-run average in four spring games, including three starts. The right-hander was scheduled to start Monday afternoon but the game was called off because of rain.
This is a long way from South Korea, where Redding was banished to last season. In camp with the Colorado Rockies, he was released in May and was picked up by the New York Yankees. When it became clear to him that he wouldn't be called up to the major leagues, he asked the Yankees to let him go so that he could sign with the Samsung Lions.
As someone who had been a part of seven major league organizations at that point, Redding learned firsthand what it was like to be famous.
He was introduced at a news conference after he signed. He was assigned an interpreter and lived in a three-story apartment on a high-rise building next to the Lions' stadium. On the streets, fans would ask him to pose for pictures or sign autographs.
"It's flattering," Redding said. "But I think it goes both ways. At times, it got a little overwhelming."
The baseball was also different.
Most of the hitters were contact hitters. Managers gave pitchers short leashes. And because the mounds were made out of soft dirt, there would be holes in the landing area after an inning.
"You can see the base of the rubber," Redding said.
Still, when the season ended, Redding said he was interested in staying. He was told thanks, but no thanks.
When talks with the Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japan didn't lead to anything, Redding signed a minor league contract with the Dodgers. Redding will be paid $750,000 if he makes the major league roster.
"I signed here with the notion that even if couldn't make the club, I could serve as an insurance policy in triple A," he said. "I can't take anything for granted."
Blake won't be ready
With opening day fast approaching, Manager Don Mattingly said that the Dodgers would probably be without third baseman Casey Blake on opening day.
"We're definitely moving in that direction," Mattingly said.
Blake has been sidelined for more than a week because of swelling in the middle of his spine.
Even though his baseball-related activities have been limited to hitting off a tee, Blake refused to say he would be out when the season starts.
"I can't say that," he said. "You never know."
But Blake said that he would have to get several at-bats in game situations to get ready to play in the regular season.
"I know I'm not ready right now," he said.