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DeWitt sent down to the minors

Times Staff Writer

Blake DeWitt’s fairy-tale spring, which started in minor league camp and ended with him as the Dodgers’ everyday third baseman, came to an end Thursday when the rookie was optioned to triple-A Las Vegas to make room for right-hander Cory Wade.

DeWitt’s days were numbered when regular third baseman Nomar Garciaparra returned from the disabled list last week. But when the Dodgers finally made the move, it was in an effort to add depth to their bullpen.

With 12 pitchers “we’re certainly more comfortable until we get our starters to give us some more length,” Manager Joe Torre said. “Right now we’re having a lot of innings to fill.”

DeWitt, 22, who had never played above double A before this season, hit .255 and made one error in 18 games.

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“It’s been great,” he said. “And now that I’ve been here, got a taste of it, I know what it’s like.

“It’s the only place to play. You put in all that extra work, it’s not to get to triple A, it’s not to get to double A or high A. It’s to get here. Your main goal is to get here.”

Wade, a 24-year-old strike-thrower who had a 4.30 earned-run average in six relief appearances with double-A Jacksonville, was told he was being called up in a 2 a.m. phone call, flew all day to reach Dodger Stadium 2 1/2 hours before game time and pitched a scoreless ninth inning.

“I had no clue,” said Wade, a 10th-round pick in the 2004 June draft. “When they told me I was getting moved up, I assumed I was going to triple A. And they were like, ‘No, you’re going to the big leagues.’ ”

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DeWitt’s demotion leaves rookie Chin-lung Hu as the Dodgers’ lone backup infielder.

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Infielder Tony Abreu, who opened the season on the disabled list after missing most of spring training with what’s being called a strained groin, took part in pregame activities Thursday and will continue to do so “until he’s ready to go play baseball somewhere,” the team said.

“I feel good,” Abreu said. “It’s getting better.”

Torre said doctors believe the tightness Abreu has felt all spring is probably the result of an October operation he had to repair a sports hernia.

“This stuff he feels is OK,” Torre said. “It may be uncomfortable, but it’s not going to be an injury.”

Several teammates have privately complained that Abreu, who was expected to see a lot of action at second and third this season, is soft and unwilling to play with pain at a time when the team is short on experienced infielders.

“It’s frustrating,” coach Larry Bowa said. “Just the few games he played, it’s pretty impressive. He would solve a lot of our problems. He’s got big league tools.

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“This is a game where you’ve got to play through some adversity and play through some pain. But we can’t sit here and say he’s not hurt. Because every guy’s pain threshold is different.”

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Torre remains undecided on a starter for Sunday but said he’s leaning heavily toward keeping left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo in the bullpen and filling out the rotation with either Esteban Loaiza or Chan Ho Park. . . . Derek Lowe, who came out of Wednesday’s game because of a tight elbow after 67 pitches, is expected to make his scheduled start Tuesday in Miami. Lowe said he felt the elbow stiffen after throwing a curveball to Chris Snyder in the fifth inning. “If it was late in the year I would have stayed out there,” he said. “It’s nothing that’s going to cause you to miss a start.”

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kevin.baxter@latimes.com


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