Torre: Kemp is a production guy
PITTSBURGH -- The Dodgers began the regular season on Monday with catcher Russell Martin batting second and center fielder Matt Kemp fifth, a surprising alignment in that it was widely assumed for most of the spring that Kemp would follow switch-hitting leadoff man Rafael Furcal in the order. But manager Joe Torre said he isn't necessarily locked into doing it this way for the long haul.
"Matt Kemp ... is one off our production guys,'' Torre said. "In the National League, you pretty much have to hit a guy in the middle of the lineup if he can knock in runs. I'm not saying he won't hit second at some point to make sure he gets good pitches to hit.''Torre also pointed to the fact that Martin is 6-for-12 with a home run for his career against Pittsburgh left-hander Zach Duke, who was scheduled to start for the Pirates. Martin spent most of spring training rehabilitating a groin strain and didn't get much playing time until the end, and much of that was in minor league games. But Torre saw almost every inning Martin caught and every at-bat he took during that time.
"I have been watching him the last 10 days or so,'' Torre said. "His offensive approach has been to center field and right-center. ... I think we have some options, but I would like to split it up lefty-righty-lefty-righty and go from there.''Behind the right-handed-hitting Martin -- who was hitting behind the switch-hitting Furcal -- the Dodgers had Andre Ethier (left), Manny Ramirez and Kemp (both right), James Loney (left), Casey Blake (right) and Blake DeWitt (left).
Ortiz added; Wade to DL
As expected, the Dodgers purchased the contract of veteran right-hander Russ Ortiz before the game, making him the fourth player added to the 40-man roster in the past few days. To clear a spot on the 25-man roster, reliever Cory Wade was placed on the 15-day disabled list. Wade is expected to be moved to the 60-day DL in a few weeks to clear a 40-man spot for reliever Ronald Belisario, who presently is on the restricted list and is in extended spring training in Glendale, Ariz.Wade underwent right shoulder surgery in March. His placement on the DL was made retroactive to March 26, the earliest date to which such a move could be backdated, but he is expected to be out for at least a couple of months. The Dodgers previously purchased the contracts of relievers Ramon Ortiz and Jeff Weaver and outfielder Garret Anderson. The 40-man roster is now filled to capacity.
Although adding Ortiz gives the Dodgers a seven-man bullpen, they had only six relievers on Monday. Ramon Troncoso was away following the birth of his first child, a daughter named Isabella, on Sunday. He is expected to rejoin the club in time for Wednesday night's game. Torre said Troncoso's brief absence wasn't a factor in deciding to go with a seven-man bullpen.
Infielder Nick Green agreed to waive the primary escape clause in his minor league contract and accepted an assignment to Triple-A Albuquerque. His secondary escape clause doesn't kick in until May 15, so he can't leave the organization and sign with another team until then. Belisario is scheduled to throw to hitters for the first time this spring on Tuesday, a significant move in his effort to rejoin the big league club. Belisario arrived five weeks late to spring training because of lingering visa issues in his native Venezuela, but club officials don't think he will need the full six-week equivalent of spring training in order to be ready. One Dodgers source said Monday that Belisario could be ready in as few as "15 or 20 days.''
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com