Drew ready to abide by Tracy's decision

Updated: February 23, 2005, 5:05 PM ET
Associated Press

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- A day after Milton Bradley staked his claim to center field for the Los Angeles Dodgers, J.D. Drew downplayed what could become one of the most heated position battles in spring training.

J.D. Drew
Right Field
Los Angeles Dodgers
145 31 93 118 12 .305

The free agent signee, who spent the last seven seasons as the right fielder in St. Louis and Atlanta, expressed interest in moving to center when he joined the Dodgers in the offseason.

"I think there's been a much bigger deal made out of it than what it's going to be," Drew said Wednesday, adding he has not spoken to Bradley on the subject.

"If it works out and it happens (that I'm in center) and Milton's fine with it, that's good. If Milton says, 'Man, I would so much rather be (in center), I don't feel comfortable in right field at all,' then we'll talk about it and go from there. But I'm not foreseeing that as being an issue at all."

Manager Jim Tracy has said Bradley, Drew, left fielder Jayson Werth and backup outfielder Ricky Ledee all will see time in center this spring. But he said Werth will be in left when the season starts April 5, leaving the battle for center to Bradley and Drew.

Drew said he has talked to Tracy and told him he would like a shot in center field, but that whatever decision Tracy makes, he will abide by.

"He's the manager of the team and whatever he says I will respect," Drew said. "I'm not a guy who is going to come in here and change lineups and throw fits if I can't get my way."

Milton Bradley
Center Field
Los Angeles Dodgers
141 19 67 72 15 .267

Bradley was the Dodgers' center fielder for much of last year before moving to right when the team acquired Steve Finley for the playoff push.

Bradley said Tuesday he gladly made the switch because he felt it was the best way for the team to make the playoffs. But he also said he was told at the time that the switch was temporary.

"I'm the best center fielder in camp and that's where I expect to be playing," Bradley said.

Drew, who played center field in high school, was an All-American at the position at Florida State and has seen some time at the position in the majors, would like to play center to ease the wear-and-tear on his surgically repaired, and oft-injured, knee.

"I talked to (Tracy) a little bit on that," Drew said. "The only thing that affects my knee is slamming on the brakes and there's a lot of slamming on the brakes in the corner in right field."

Starting pitcher Brad Penny had his second bullpen session of the spring. He threw 37 pitches in a light workout, more than double what the right-hander threw in his first trip to the mound Monday. "I felt good," he said. "I'll be back out there Friday." Monday's workout was very light and Penny said he put slightly more zip on the ball. After his pitches from the mound, he moved down in front of the hill onto flat ground and fired seven or eight more throws in with a lot of intensity. Penny is coming off a rare nerve injury to his right biceps suffered last August and re-aggravated in late September. His is considered a key to the team's success this year if healthy, giving the Dodgers a solid starter at the front of the rotation.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press