Jeff Hamilton acknowledged Tuesday that his career as a Dodger is probably finished.
"It's pretty obvious my time is done here," said Hamilton, who has eight at-bats and is sidelined because of a sore right hand.
Hamilton once considered the Dodger third baseman of the future, has played only 48 games in the last two seasons because of injuries and has fallen to fourth on the depth chart.
Because he is out of options and has five years' service, the Dodgers need his permission to send him to triple-A Albuquerque. But he will probably refuse the assignment, forcing the Dodgers to release him.
"That's really the only realistic avenue they can take," Hamilton said.
Bob Ojeda struck out seven in five innings with a reworked curveball, although the Dodgers still lost to the Atlanta Braves, 3-1. The Dodgers have yet to score an earned run against Atlanta pitching in two exhibitions. Kal Daniels sat out a second consecutive game because of a sore right shoulder. . . . Brett Butler suffered a twisted left ankle while crossing first base during the third inning and left the game. . . . Jay Howell threw batting practice for 10 minutes, and hopes to be in games next week.
As expected, the Dodgers demoted eight prospects to minor league camp, among them Mike Piazza, who was batting .462 with a team-leading eight runs-batted-in. Pitchers Mike James and Jamie McAndrew, catcher Bryan Baar, infielder Eric Young and outfielders Billy Ashley, Tom Goodwin and Henry Rodriguez were also demoted.
Donald Fehr, executive director of the Major League Players Assn., told the Dodgers to count on being locked out of camp next spring.
Fehr and assistant Mark Belanger met with the team during an annual spring tour of camps. He said his comments were based on the belief that the owners would request a reopening of negotiations on a union contract signed two years ago.
Fehr and Belanger also had an impromptu meeting with veteran umpire Bruce Froemming, whom they encountered in a Dodgertown hallway.
Froemming, who has tried to set up off-field meetings of umpires and players to ease tensions, said he has been inhibited by Eugene Orza, associate counsel of the players association .
"Last year I talked to some player reps, and they said it wouldn't be a problem meeting with us, but then Orza tells me I'm violating labor laws by talking to them," Froemming said.