DODGERS NOTEBOOK LaRoche given shot to fill void

first_imgBy Tony Jackson STAFF WRITER SAN DIEGO – Tired of waiting for Nomar Garciaparra to return from the disabled list and tired of watching Shea Hillenbrand hit less than .250, the Dodgers addressed their third base crisis on Sunday by recalling Andy LaRoche from triple-A Las Vegas two days ahead of schedule. LaRoche immediately was inserted into the starting lineup, where he figures to get most of the playing time for the rest of the season. “We needed to make sure he was healthy and ready to play and had enough at-bats,” Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said. “We talked to (Las Vegas manager) Lo Bundy every day and talked to (Las Vegas trainer) Greg Herrel every day, and they said he was ready.” LaRoche, who has long been considered one of the organization’s top prospects, made his big league debut earlier this season, hitting just .211 in a monthlong stint. This time, he said he is better prepared to succeed because he knows what to expect. “I really noticed flying in that there were no butterflies or nerves like I had the last time I came up,” LaRoche said. “I know what it takes and what I have to do, so there is less pressure this time. “Also, I have been hitting well lately. Last time, I think I was hitting about .220 when I came up here.” No interest The Dodgers probably will release veteran right-hander Brett Tomko today, the 10th day after he was designated for assignment on Aug. 24. The fact Tomko hasn’t been traded doesn’t necessarily suggest there isn’t any interest on the part of other clubs, but it does mean no other club is willing to give up anything to get him. The Dodgers are still on the hook for about $1.6 million to Tomko, including the $1 million buyout on his mutual option for next season. Any club that signs him after the Dodgers release him will owe Tomko just a prorated share of the $380,000 minimum (presently about $70,000), with that amount then subtracted from what the Dodgers owe him. Getting close Although he still can’t run full speed without pain, Garciaparra is expected to be activated soon for pinch-hitting purposes. But even that is contingent on his being able to run half-speed to first base after putting a ball in play, and club officials still aren’t quite convinced Garciaparra can do that without doing further damage to his calf. “He doesn’t have to be able to run full speed,” Little said. “He has been pretty good with runners in scoring position (.404). We might just have him do that sometimes.” [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! LaRoche went 0-for-2, with two strikeouts and two walks, in the Dodgers’ 5-0 win over San Diego. “He is going to get a lot of playing time,” Dodgers manager Grady Little said. Dodgers officials declined to promote LaRoche when active rosters could be expanded on Friday because he was only a week removed from the disabled list, where he had spent two weeks with his balky back. The plan at the time was to bring him up Tuesday, after Las Vegas concluded its season. But with Garciaparra having returned to Los Angeles on Saturday for an MRI on his strained left calf, and with Hillenbrand having struck out four times in seven at-bats and committed a costly throwing error in the first two games of this series, the need became too great to ignore. last_img

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