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Vero Would Be ‘Heartbroken’

Times Staff Writer

As the Dodgers pursue the possibility of moving their spring home to Arizona, the city of Vero Beach, Fla., could face a future of Dodgertown without the Dodgers.

“We would certainly be heartbroken,” Vero Beach City Manager James Gabbard said Tuesday. “They’re such a big part of Vero Beach. There’s a history and culture that revolves around Dodger baseball. We’ve worked very hard to make it attractive for them to stay.”

The Dodgers have accepted an invitation from officials in Goodyear, Ariz., to discuss moving to a proposed two-team training complex there, Mayor Jim Cavanaugh said Tuesday. The city has extended such an invitation to about 10 teams, all currently training in Florida, he said, and several have accepted.

He said city and state funds are expected to cover construction costs, estimated at $80 million to $90 million, and said the Dodgers -- or any other tenant -- would not have to share in those costs.

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Goodyear is about 20 miles west of Phoenix. Glendale, just up the road from Goodyear, also has expressed interest in luring the Dodgers. Glendale officials said last month that they had exclusive negotiating rights with several major league teams, without identifying them. The Dodgers have not agreed to exclusive negotiations with any city, Dodger spokeswoman Camille Johnston said.

The Dodgers last explored a move to Arizona in 2001. Instead, they agreed to a 20-year lease to stay in Vero Beach, and the city, county and state bought Dodgertown from the team for $11 million, spent $8 million on renovations and leased the property back to the team for $1 per year.

If the Dodgers left, Gabbard said, they would have to repay a prorated part of the $10 million in bonds used to buy the property. Gabbard said the Dodgers have not indicated to city officials they might abandon Dodgertown, and he said the city has no interest in pursuing other teams at this time. The Dodgers have called Vero Beach their spring home since 1948.

“We could not replace the Dodgers,” he said. “We don’t want to look at other options until the bad news comes, if it comes. As far as I’m concerned, the Dodgers will continue to be here.”

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Outfielder Jayson Werth said he is concerned his career could be in jeopardy, his left wrist still bothering him five months after surgery to repair a torn ligament.

“I can’t even swing a bat,” he said.

After an MRI examination Monday was inconclusive, Dr. Norman Zemel, the hand specialist who performed the surgery, suggested a cortisone injection to combat inflammation. Werth said he was “not sold” on that option and said he would consider getting second and third opinions.

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Second baseman Jeff Kent returned, two days after a beaning left him with a mild concussion. He said his cloudy vision had cleared up and his headaches were “good enough that Tylenol could cure.” ... The Dodgers could announce a minor league rehabilitation assignment for first baseman Nomar Garciaparra today. “We’ve got to make sure he can play nine innings,” Manager Grady Little said.... Reliever Yhency Brazoban underwent reconstructive elbow surgery Tuesday and is expected to sit out 12 to 18 months.


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