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Tsao is a quality pickup

Times Staff Writer

Among the flotsam and jetsam of players released during the off-season throughout baseball, one name prompted General Manager Ned Colletti to call his new director of player development, De Jon Watson.

Pitcher Chin-hui Tsao had been released by the Colorado Rockies, six years after he’d been signed out of Taiwan for a large bonus and one injury-plagued year after starting the season as the Rockies closer.

“Do what you’ve got to do and sign him,” Colletti told Watson.

Tsao was signed to a major league contract and the Dodgers placed him on the 40-man roster, agreeing to pay him $425,000 if he made the team and $250,000 if he spent the season in the minors.

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“We thought he had great upside if his arm got healthy,” Colletti said.

No kidding. Tsao has allowed no runs and one hit in nine appearances since being recalled from triple A. When he came into the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday with a runner on first and none out in the seventh and retired the side in order, it marked his eighth perfect inning in a row.

Opposing batters are one for 31 against him.

“All he does is get people out,” Manager Grady Little said.

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Little must resist the urge to use him too often.

“We’ll be careful with him and not abuse him,” he said. “I’d like nothing more than to put him out there for three innings. But we can’t do that.”

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Luis Gonzalez was given the day off Wednesday, but fellow veteran Jeff Kent was in the lineup for the 27th time in 28 games.

Little talked to the 39-year-old second baseman to make sure he felt good enough to play the noon game after a busy week that included the 17-inning game Sunday. Kent is scheduled to take off Friday night in Atlanta with right-hander John Smoltz pitching.

“Right now the way Jeff Kent is swinging against left-handers, it’s hard to think of him on the bench,” Little said.

Kent entered the game eight for 22 (.364) against left-handers, but only three for 19 (.158) against Diamondbacks starter Doug Davis. He went one for two with a walk against him and one for three in the game, but committed his third error when he fumbled a ground ball by Stephen Drew in the fifth inning.

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The Diamondbacks’ initiative to purge the purple from their organization has spread to the road. They asked the Dodgers to remove the plastic on-deck circle in front of the Diamondbacks’ dugout at Dodger Stadium that featured the old logo and color purple.

steve.henson@latimes.com


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