Dodgers take a gamble with draft pick


The Dodgers didn’t make any significant moves on the free-agent market over the winter. They spent less money than any team in the last two drafts. And they possibly forfeited two high draft picks in the draft this year by declining to offer salary arbitration to Randy Wolf and Orlando Hudson.

But on Monday, the Dodgers used the 28th overall selection in the first-year player draft to select a pitcher expected to be among the toughest players to sign: Texas two-sport standout Zach Lee.

A highly rated quarterback out of McKinney High, the 6-foot-4 right-hander is committed to play football at LSU. Lee is asking for a signing bonus of more than $5 million to drop football and concentrate on baseball, according to an report.

For the most part, the Dodgers have not signed players to bonuses that exceed the recommendations of the commissioner’s office. Assistant General Manager Logan White acknowledged the Dodgers might make an exception for this case.

Of the Dodgers’ chances of signing Lee, White said, “I would say I’m cautiously optimistic. … As the summer plays out, you’ll see the effort will be made. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that we’re going to get him to sign. It’s really going to be Zach’s decision.”

White said fiscally conservative owner Frank McCourt is aware that Lee, who is being advised by agents Randy and Alan Hendricks, could cost more than a typical player selected 28th overall.

White adamantly denied that the Dodgers purposely selected an unsignable player to save money.

“I understand the concern,” White said. “I can only give you my word. I’ve always been straight up. I’ve always tried to take the best player.”

White said he hasn’t considered signing Lee to the kind of deal that would allow him to play football at LSU during the fall and baseball in the Dodgers’ minor league system during the summer.

The Dodgers have clocked Lee anywhere from 89-95 mph and said that he often sits at 93 mph. White said that Lee has a “plus” curveball and changeup.

“He’s got easy, easy arm action,” White said. “He’s one of those guys who have the rare ability to manipulate the ball. He knows how to change speeds.”

Blake to avoid DL

Based on how Casey Blake felt hitting and fielding grounders in recent days, Manager Joe Torre said that the veteran third baseman would likely avoid the disabled list. Blake has been out of the lineup in the last five games because of tightness in his back.

“Everything is good,” Torre said. “I think we’re past that stage thinking that we may DL him.”

Haeger back to the DL

The combination of an ailing toe and an unconvincing relief appearance on Saturday landed knuckleballer Charlie Haeger back on the 15-day disabled list. Haeger was activated Wednesday and gave up two runs and three hits over two innings to the Atlanta Braves three days later.

The Dodgers recalled right-hander Jon Link from triple-A Albuquerque to take his place. Link will be sent back to triple-A Tuesday to make room for George Sherrill, who is eligible to be activated from the disabled list.

Short hops

Russell Martin was out of the lineup for the second consecutive game, as Torre said he sensed that the catcher was tired. “His swing was getting longer,” Torre said…. Ramon Ortiz, who was designated for assignment on May 27, refused a minor league assignment and is now a free agent.

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