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Weaver Signs With Camden

Times Staff Writers

With no end in sight to his stalemate with the Angels, pitcher Jered Weaver signed Friday with the Camden (N.J.) Riversharks of the independent Atlantic League.

Weaver, the Angels’ first-round draft pick last year, has rejected offers of a major league contract worth $5.25 million and a minor league contract with a $4-million signing bonus. He and his agent, Scott Boras, originally sought a package in the $10-million range before reducing the asking price to the $8-million range.

Although the Angels retain rights to Weaver until May 30, he is expected to re-enter the draft, which begins June 7.

His brother, Dodger pitcher Jeff Weaver, said Jered has been throwing for two months. In an independent league, major league teams can evaluate him in a competitive environment before the draft.

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“He’ll throw a couple of innings here and there to show he’s still alive and ready to go,” Jeff said.

“I think it’s a good idea,” Angel scouting director Eddie Bane said. “He needed to go pitch somewhere. He hasn’t pitched in a year. I was expecting him to do something like this earlier, but they have their own idea of how to do things.

“Actually, he should be pitching somewhere in our organization.”

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Closer Francisco Rodriguez, who has not pitched in seven days because of a strained right forearm, threw in the bullpen Friday without discomfort, pitching coach Bud Black said. So long as Rodriguez suffers no residual soreness today, Black indicated he should be available to pitch Sunday.... Left fielder Garret Anderson missed his second consecutive start because of tightness in his right hamstring, although he was available to pinch-hit.

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Dodger triple-A pitchers Heath Totten and Tom Farmer begin 15-day suspensions today for testing positive for steroids and infielder Jose Flores begins a 15-day suspension for using a banned substance.

Totten, a fifth-round draft pick in 2000, is in his second season at triple-A Las Vegas. He led Dodger minor leaguers with 160 innings last season and is 5-2 with a 4.97 earned-run average this season.

Farmer, 26, has pitched primarily in relief at Las Vegas since late in the 2003 season. He made 47 appearances last season but has struggled this year, giving up 34 hits in 16 2/3 innings and posting an ERA of 14.58.

Flores, 31, played primarily shortstop and is batting .329 with a .457 on-base percentage in 85 at-bats. He had one hit in four major league at-bats last September.

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Jeff Weaver patiently answered questions about the condition of his shoulder and why his velocity dipped to 84 mph in his start Wednesday. Pitching coach Jim Colborn and catcher Paul Bako had said Weaver’s shoulder was weak after the right-hander gave up three home runs in the sixth inning against the Florida Marlins.

“It’s a dead-arm stage,” Weaver said. “I’ve felt like that for four or five starts now. I’ve won and lost games. I know exactly what I’m going through.”

He made it clear that he does not plan to miss a start.

“There is no pain,” he said.

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Dodger right-hander Elmer Dessens threw 35 fastballs in a bullpen session and could begin a rehabilitation assignment in about a week. He has been on the disabled list since April 20 because of a lesion on his shoulder.

“My shoulder is strong,” he said. “I feel pretty good. No problems.”

Dessens made two starts before getting hurt, and opponents batted .194 in nine innings. He isn’t sure whether he will be used as a starter or reliever upon his return.

“They haven’t told me,” he said.

Left-hander Odalis Perez, who did not start Friday because of shoulder pain, will throw a bullpen session Sunday if he feels well. If he is unable to do so, his scheduled start Wednesday is “in jeopardy,” Manager Jim Tracy said.

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Mayor-elect Antonio Villaraigosa, wearing a Dodger jersey and cap, threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Friday night’s Freeway Series opener, moments after anointing the Dodgers as Los Angeles’ only baseball team.

Addressing the Angels’ name-change fray, Villaraigosa said, “There’s only one team in the city of Los Angeles, and that’s the L.A. Dodgers.”

Three days after defeating incumbent James Hahn by a wide margin, Villaraigosa put his allegiance squarely with the Dodgers over the Angels, who this season changed their name to Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

“I understand why the Angels would want L.A. as a brand,” Villaraigosa said. “It’s a great city.”

Asked about the public hours and money being spent to challenge the Angels, he said, “Look, I’ve got a lot of challenges facing this city. They’re called education, public safety, improving the schools, hiring more cops, solving traffic. Those are going to be my priorities.

“I could see why the Dodgers would be opposed to that [change]. Again, there’s only one baseball team in the city of L.A.”

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Times staff writers Mike DiGiovanna and Tim Brown contributed to this report.

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ANGELS-DODGERS TODAY

ANGELS’

JOHN LACKEY

vs.

DODGERS’

BRAD PENNY

*--* THE MATCHUP 2005 2004 VS OPP TEAMS/PITCHERS W-L ERA TEAM W-L IP ERA Angels/Lackey (R) 4-2 4.40 5-3 0-0 1.0 0.00 Dodgers/Penny (R) 2-2 4.40 3-2 -- -- --

*--*

Dodger Stadium, 1 p.m.

TV -- Channel 11. Radio -- 710, 980, 1020, 1330.

Update -- Orlando Cabrera is a .103 hitter (four for 39) against Penny. Cesar Izturis (one for seven) and Paul Bako (one for three) are the only Dodgers to have faced Lackey, who didn’t start against them last season.

-- Bill Shaikin


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