Kreuter happy Park came back

Times Staff Writer

Chan Ho Park turned in two of the finest seasons of his career with Chad Kreuter as his personal catcher. So, with Park with the Dodgers and pitching well again, it is little wonder that Kreuter played a role.

The Dodgers did not promise Park a spot on their roster, just an invitation to spring training. In the weeks before he left for training camp, Park worked out at USC, where Kreuter is the baseball coach.

"I'm excited he's back with the Dodgers," Kreuter said. "If he never would have left the Dodgers in the first place, we could have had a whole different Chan Ho."

Park, 34, worked with Kreuter for two seasons, ranking seventh in the National League in earned-run average in 2000 and making the All-Star game in 2001. The Dodgers did not pursue him in free agency, and he signed a five-year, $65-million contract with the Texas Rangers.

In his career, Park is 81-54 with a 3.77 earned-run average in nine years with the Dodgers and 33-34 with a 5.64 ERA in six years with the Rangers, San Diego Padres and New York Mets.

Kreuter, 43, is in his second season at USC, five years removed from his last major league game.

"I can't say I didn't love catching at the big league level," he said. "That was my dream. It still is."


Delwyn Young could make his first start of the season today, at second base.

Shortstop Rafael Furcal met with Manager Joe Torre during batting practice, after which Torre said Furcal would sit out a fourth consecutive game because of back stiffness.

"I told him Tuesday is not that far away," Torre said.

That could indicate Furcal will get two more days to rest his back, including Monday's off day.

Torre said Jeff Kent would get the day off today, and he hoped Chin-lung Hu could fill in. If Furcal does not play, Torre would need Hu at shortstop, and he said Young could start at second base.


The Dodgers appear to have a surplus of third basemen, with Blake DeWitt in the major leagues, Andy LaRoche at triple-A Las Vegas and Nomar Garciaparra expected to start a minor league rehabilitation assignment this week.

Yet, in providing a noncommittal answer to the question of who might start at the position when Garciaparra returns, Torre suggested the Dodgers might still be interested in trading for a third baseman.

"Are we going to make a deal to get another infielder?" Torre said. "We've obviously been on the phones since spring training, and nothing has materialized."


Jason Schmidt is scheduled to start a minor league rehabilitation assignment today, pitching one inning for Class-A Inland Empire at Lancaster. . . . DeWitt batted second Saturday, making him the seventh player to bat second this season. The others: Andre Ethier, Russell Martin, Matt Kemp, Juan Pierre, Andruw Jones and Furcal. . . . Closer Takashi Saito showed up with flu for the second consecutive day, and the Dodgers sent him home. "His eyes were at half mast," Torre said.


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