Sweeney takes the blame for blunder

Times Staff Writer

The Dodgers are growing increasingly desperate.

For a few days last week, the Dodgers tried skipping batting practice. Today and Friday, a group of them will be hitting early on the field at Dodger Stadium.

“We try everything,” Manager Grady Little said.

Meanwhile, the frustrations in the clubhouse are starting to surface.


Upon seeing a group of reporters circled around Mark Sweeney on Wednesday to ask him about his blunder on the basepaths the previous game, Luis Gonzalez loudly expressed his displeasure.

Gonzalez later explained that he thought reporters were trying to pin an unfair amount of blame on Sweeney, a pinch-hitting specialist who was acquired last week from the San Francisco Giants.

“It’s a tough time,” Little said. “When you’re playing like we’re playing, it’s tough.”

With one out in the ninth inning Tuesday, Sweeney was on first base and Shea Hillenbrand was on second when Juan Pierre popped up to catcher Brad Ausmus in foul territory. Sweeney ran toward second and was easily doubled off for the final out.

Sweeney didn’t make himself available after the game.

On Wednesday, Sweeney took full responsibility for losing track of the number of outs.

“It was an embarrassing moment, obviously,” he said. “It’s not something you’re going to be proud of. There are no excuses.”

Sweeney absolved first base coach Mariano Duncan of any blame.

“It’s not Mariano’s fault. It’s my fault,” he said.

The Dodgers’ highest unsigned draft pick remained without a contract at Wednesday night’s signing deadline.

Fifth-round pick Kyle Blair couldn’t agree to terms of a contract and will attend the University of San Diego on a scholarship. A hard-throwing right-hander from Los Gatos, Calif., Blair was seeking a seven-figure signing bonus that caused him to slip as far as he did in the draft.

Blair, who is playing in a summer league in Minnesota, said he learned of his fate in a phone call at 11:44 a.m. Midwest time from advisor Brodie Van Wagenen.

“It woke me up,” Blair said.

Blair said playing baseball full-time this summer had him looking forward to starting his professional career.

“Definitely, it was an exciting thought,” Blair said. “But it will come to fruition in three years.”

If Blair attends and remains at USD, he will next be eligible for the draft in 2010.

Said Dodgers scouting director Tim Hallgren: “We wish Kyle the best. We hope we get a shot at him in three years.”

Tony Abreu was back on the field for triple-A Las Vegas on Tuesday. The second baseman was on the inactive list and in an apparent disagreement over his status, as the Dodgers hinted that they had doubts about the severity of his abdominal strain. Abreu said he was unable to play upon being sent down to Las Vegas on July 18.

Abreu was two for four Tuesday with three runs, a walk, a double and a run batted in.