TUCSON -- Manager Joe Torre will meet with his staff today to discuss the next round of roster moves, which could be announced after tonight’s exhibition against the Kansas City Royals. But Torre tipped his hand a bit before Sunday’s 8-2 loss to the Colorado Rockies when he hinted that infielder Delwyn Young and left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo will likely make the team.
Young, a switch-hitter who can play second base and the outfield, has struggled all spring and is hitting .143 with more strikeouts (15) than hits and runs batted in combined. But his versatility makes him valuable and he is out of options, meaning another team could claim him if the Dodgers try to send him to the minors.
“As far as I’m concerned he’s a roster guy based on the fact that he has talent [and] he has no options left,” Torre said. “My thought process is right now that he’s going to be on our club.”
Kuo, who is also out of options, has shuttled between the bullpen and the starting rotation throughout an injury-marred career and will probably start the season as a middle reliever. He has given up three hits in 7 2/3 spring innings.
“Why lose somebody of value?” Torre said, referring to Young and Kuo, who Torre believes would wind up with other teams if the Dodgers tried to outright them to the minors. “I believe those two guys have value. They’re both young. And in Kuo’s situation, he’s left-handed. Which is certainly an advantage.”
The Dodgers have six days to cut 16 players to reach the opening-day limit of 25.
Rotation seems set
Although Torre still has some tough decisions to make in the bullpen, the rotation is nearly set with Derek Lowe, Chad Billingsley and Hiroki Kuroda scheduled to follow opening-day starter Brad Penny. The fifth spot is still officially up for grabs although Esteban Loaiza, who had a rough afternoon Sunday, giving up three runs in three innings, will probably win the job over nonroster player Chan Ho Park because Loaiza is guaranteed more than $7 million whether he makes the team or not.
“There’s no question that you take that into consideration. And it’s a major consideration,” Torre said.
But contracts are not likely to sway Torre’s decision in picking a starter in left field where Juan Pierre, in the second year of a five-year, $44-million contract, is battling Andre Ethier, who will earn $424,000 this season.
Both players will make the team but it’s becoming more and more likely that Ethier, who is batting .344 and is tied for the lead among National League players with five spring homers, could start over Pierre, who is hitting .188 with a .253 on-base percentage.
“You’re going to play the players that you think are going to best serve you that day,” Torre said.
In the bullpen, closer Takashi Saito, setup man Jonathan Broxton and left-hander Joe Beimel will make the cut along with Kuo. Veteran right-handers Scott Proctor and Rudy Seanez are also good bets while Park could make the team as a reliever.
One pitcher who almost certainly won’t make the team is right-hander Yhency Brazoban, who was left behind at minor league camp in Florida to build arm strength and lose weight.
Billingsley is shaky
Billingsley struggled with his command and the changeup he’s trying to add to his repertoire and the Rockies made him pay in Sunday’s game, pounding him for six extra-base hits and five runs in four-plus innings. It was the second straight poor outings for the right-hander, who has given up 10 runs and 14 hits in his last nine innings.
On offense, James Loney went three for four and Matt Kemp extended his hitting streak to nine games with a pair of hits. Rookie Chin-lung Hu, making his first start at third, tripled to drive in one run and scored the other.
Jeff Kent continued to test his strained right hamstring at the team’s Phoenix training complex, taking grounders and doing what was termed “light” running on the bases.
Dodgers vs. Kansas City
Today, 6 p.m. PDT
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