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Torre names Charlie Haeger fiftth starter, Blake DeWitt his second baseman

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They weren’t exactly bombshells, but Joe Torre finally announced prior to Thursday’s exhibition game that Blake DeWitt had won the starting second base job and Charlie Haeger the fifth spot in the rotation.

DeWitt has been one of the team’s leading hitters all spring, batting .339 with a .536 slugging percentage and a .439 on-base percentage. The left-handed-hitting DeWitt, however, will likely sit against left-handers.

‘Blake DeWitt is our second baseman,’ Torre said. ‘Over the long haul, DeWitt needs to play everyday.

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'[Ronnie] Belliard and [Jamey] Carroll can play against left-handers ... so we have flexibility. If someone gets hot, we’ll find a spot for them.’

Haeger is a 26-year-old knuckleballer who went 2-0 with a 2.38 ERA this spring. He is scheduled to pitch Thursday against the Indians.

‘Haeger will be our fifth starter,’ Torre said. ‘He can pitch out of the bullpen before that. His versatility is a plus. We’ll give him a shot.’

Torre said Haeger’s first start would be either next Saturday or Sunday in Florida. After opening Monday in Pittsburgh, the Dodgers have an off day on Tuesday.

Being April 1, Torre didn’t give the news to DeWitt traditionally.

‘We initially pulled the April Fools’ Day prank on Blake,’ he said. ‘We told him he was going down, but we didn’t keep him there long.

‘He was joyed, relieved. That’s as emotional as I’ve seen him in a long time.’

--Steve Dilbeck


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