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Sele Preparing for the Stretch

Times Staff Writer

Anybody seen Aaron Sele? The veteran right-hander has gone from integral piece of the starting rotation to forgotten man in the bullpen, pitching only 4 1/3 innings in three relief appearances since Aug. 1.

It turns out the Dodgers are planning on his resurgence down the stretch.

“That would be Plan A,” Manager Grady Little said.

Sele, 36, has fared poorly in the second half of the last several seasons. The Dodgers hope that by basically giving him August off, he might pitch effectively in September.

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“That would be good for Aaron and good for us,” Little said.

The easygoing Sele says he’s fine with the thinking. He lost his spot in the rotation when the Dodgers acquired Greg Maddux. He might gain it back if erratic left-hander Mark Hendrickson or rookie right-hander Chad Billingsley falters.

And because of his pennant-race experience, he might even get it back if they don’t.

Hendrickson could be one poor start from handing his berth to Sele, and Billingsley has never pitched in September because minor league seasons end in August.

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“Chad will be pitching in very important games for us down the stretch, and the only time he’s pitched at that time of year is in instructional league,” Little said.

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Nomar Garciaparra is six plate appearances from triggering a $500,000 performance incentive. But in keeping with his aversion to discussing any sort of statistics, he doesn’t want to talk about it.

“I just go out and play,” he said. “Whatever happens, happens.”

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Garciaparra’s one-year contract had a $6-million guarantee and an additional $4 million in incentives based on plate appearances. He gets $500,000 when he reaches 400, and another $500,000 for each 25 plate appearances up to 575.

He’s at 394, and the Dodgers will gladly pay for his continued stellar play. He’s batting .330, is a contender for the National League batting title and has made only two errors.

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For the first time all season, the Dodgers had the same batting order three games in a row. The feat was made possible by Saturday night’s blowout because center fielder Kenny Lofton and second baseman Jeff Kent came out of the game in the second inning and were fresh for Sunday’s day game.

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The continuity was shrugged off by Little. With solid reserves such as Julio Lugo and Olmedo Saenz, he doesn’t necessarily want to trot the same eight position players onto the field each day.

“We need to get all our players involved,” he said. “That’s more important to me.”


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