Advertisement

Weighing their third options

Times Staff Writer

A .133 batting average could make anyone sick, and sure enough, Wilson Betemit had an upset stomach and was throwing up before the game.

His name had already been written on the lineup card, so bench coach Dave Jauss grabbed some white-out and replaced him in the No. 8 spot with Wilson Valdez.

Betemit’s struggles have the Dodgers considering options at third base -- and there aren’t many.

They don’t think prospect Andy LaRoche is ready for the major leagues. LaRoche had a poor spring training offensively and defensively, and is batting .243 at triple A.

Advertisement

They are reluctant to move Nomar Garciaparra from first to third and plug prospect James Loney in at first because of the injury risk to Garciaparra, who has a history of leg and oblique problems. Third base requires more flexibility than first because of the increased throwing demands, and the stakes are high because Garciaparra is so valuable offensively.

An option the Dodgers have discussed is using backup catcher Mike Lieberthal at third base on occasion. Lieberthal, in his 14th season, is a .274 hitter with 150 home runs over his career, yet has only nine at-bats this season.

Lieberthal has played only catcher as a major leaguer but was a shortstop until his senior year at Westlake Village Westlake High.

*

Advertisement

Chad Billingsley’s role as a reliever could change when Yhency Brazoban is ready to join the team after rehabilitation from elbow ligament replacement surgery. The Dodgers have discussed sending Billingsley to triple-A Las Vegas and returning him to the starting rotation there.

The right-hander was 7-4 with a 3.60 earned-run average as a Dodgers starter the second half of last season and came up through the minor leagues as a starter.

He has had three rough outings in a row out of the bullpen, and his ERA in 11 2/3 innings is 6.94.

“We have to find a way to get him out there more regularly,” Manager Grady Little said. “He’s done a lot of adjusting from the way he’s pitched his whole life [as a starter]. Any experience in the bullpen will benefit him in the long run.”

Brazoban retired the side in order during an inning of rehab work at Las Vegas. His rehab assignment must end by May 17.

*

Andre Ethier woke up feeling like a driver who had been rear-ended on the freeway.

“My neck is sore,” he said. “It feels like whiplash.”

Advertisement

Ethier’s collision came with the turf in right field and contributed greatly to the Dodgers’ victory Friday night. He made diving catches in the sixth and eighth innings, helping strand four Padres runners.

As a rookie last season, Ethier was an adequate left fielder. He moved to his more natural position in right after the Dodgers signed Luis Gonzalez to play left, and he couldn’t be happier.

“I take pride in my defense because a good glove can keep you in this game for a long time,” he said.

*

First base coach Mariano Duncan traveled to the Dominican Republic for several days because his father died after a lengthy illness. Jauss coached first Saturday.... Rudy Seanez’s victory in relief Friday was his first as a Dodger in 12 years. Jesse Orosco went 14 years between Dodgers victories -- 1988 to 2002. . . . Left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo will make his first triple-A rehab appearance today.

steve.henson@latimes.com


Advertisement