Charlie Haeger Blanks Mariners Into Sixth

Charlie Haeger

It was something like a joust in 15th century England, with knights battling for the hand of a fair princess. In reality, it was a knuckle baller, a veteran who resurrected his career with the help of a curve ball he picked up in Japan, a Rule V pickup, a former Giant and a former Astro, all demonstrating their talents with the fair damsel, of course, a spot on the Dodgers' pitching staff.

In order, Charlie Haeger allowed two hits in 5.1 innings, Ramon Ortiz retired the only two Mariners he faced, Carlos Monasterios bent but didn't break, loading the bases before Justin Miller retired the side and Russ Ortiz, who pitched the final two innings, allowing the only run of the game on a leadoff home run in the ninth.

The five pitchers all acquitted themselves well, although Haeger and Ramon Ortiz stood out.

With Haeger drawing the start and Ramon Ortiz coming in to close out the sixth, one might conclude that Haeger is in line for the fifth starting spot and Ortiz a spot in the bullpen. Monasterios staggered a bit and Russ Ortiz was saved by the a glittering double play in the ninth.

This certainly won't be the final "joust" of the spring but it was an interesting one.

The game was well played and finished in a snappy 2:24. The Dodgers were remarkably economical, leaving just one man on base.

The Dodgers offense was limited to five hits, three of them by Manny Ramirez (single), Casey Blake (double) and Blake DeWitt (single) coming a a two-run second inning. Andre Ethier slugged his third home run of the spring in the third and the final hit, by Blake, was in the seventh.

Haeger made his first Cactus League start and came into the game with a 4.50 ERA over four games and six innings.

Haeger had his contract purchased from Triple-A Albuquerque on Aug. 11 last season and went 1-1 with a 3.32 ERA in six games (three starts) before being injured and missing the last half of the season. Opposing hitters were just 13-for-69 (.188) against Haeger in 2009.

Former Dodgers ace Don
Newcombe threw out the first ball


Strong Start for Knuckleballer
Haeger allowed a lead-off single to Ichiro Suzuki, then fanned Chone Figgins and Casey Kotchman with his fluttering pitches. When former Dodger Milton Bradley was announced he was greeted with resounding boos. The crowd cheered even more loudly when Haeger made it three strikeouts in a row.

Mariners right-hander and former Pirate Ian Snell, not to be outdone, struck Rafael Furcal out leading off the bottom of the inning. Matt Kemp ended the K-ing nonsense with a long, high drive to center field that was caught at about the 400-foot mark by Corey Patterson and Andre Ethier tapped back to the mound.

Haeger picked up his fourth strikeout and a pair of ground balls in a scoreless second inning.

Manny Ramirez singled and Casey Blake doubled to the wall in left-center to put the Dodgers on the scoreboard in the bottom of the inning. Blake DeWitt boosted his team-leading average to .386 with a single to left. Brad Ausmus made it 2-0 with a sacrifice fly to right field. In the third, a two-out shot onto the right-center berm by Andre Ethier made it 3-0.

Meanwhile, back on the mound, Haeger allowed Suzuki a soft single to left in the third and after five innings he had given up two singles, a walk, struck out five and thrown only 71 pitches. He in the sixth he retired Suzuki on four hits and, after 75 pitches, left the game to a good hand from the appreciative crowd.

Ramon Ortiz took over, carrying a 1.28 ERA in his quest of the same pitching slot Haeger covets. Ortiz credits a curve he picked up in Japan for his remarkable improvement at age 37.

Ortiz gave up a single to Chone Figgins and Ausmus promptly threw him out stealing second base. Kotchman bounced out to end the inning.

Rookie Carlos Monasterios opened the seventh and allowed a single and a pair of walks before Justin Miller came in. On the first pitch, Mike Sweeney lined a ball off Adam Moore's leg who was leading off third base in foul territory. Peterson ended the inning on a long drive to left Jason Repko ran down.

Russ Ortiz retired the side in order in the eighth, but allowed a leadoff home run and a single to open the ninth. Then Jamey Carroll dove for a ground ball at short, came up with it and threw to Chin-Lung Hu at second for the out and Hu's throw to first completed the spectacular double play. Ortiz fanned his third Mariner to record his second save.

Mientkiewicz Leaves Club
Manager Joe Torre told first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz he would not make the opening day squad and he left Camelback Ranch to try to find another interested club. Mientkiewicz's chance of making the club had dwindled away after the arrival of Garrett Anderson, who is hitting .360 over 10 games and has seemingly won the position as left-handed bat off the bench.

Mientkiewicz seriously injured his shoulder last season with a head-first slide into second base and only played 20 games. His ability to throw is still seriously limited and Anderson has performed well in the outfield as well as at the plate. Mientkiewicz still has the option of playing at Albuquerque if he does not hook on with a major league club.

Martin Gunning for Opening Day
Russell Martin went 2-for-6 with two singles and caught 6.0 innings in the Triple-A game on the minor league field Friday. Martin is well ahead of schedule in his rehab after suffering a strained groin back on March 6. He took batting practice today, but will not catch as this was a scheduled off day in his rehab. Martin was a National League All-Star in both 2007 and 2008 and has never been on the disabled list in his Major League career.

Kuo May Open on Disabled List; Belisario in Minors
Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com reports that "Dodgers reliever Hong-chih Kuo probably will begin the season on the 15-day disabled list after experiencing continued discomfort in his left elbow, opening yet another spot in a suddenly wide-open bullpen that was close to being fully stocked at the start of spring training.

"Kuo was shut down for the second time in a week. He underwent a precautionary MRI exam earlier this week that showed no cause for concern, and the injury still doesn't appear serious. But Kuo has pitched in only two games this spring, and this marks the third time he has either been scratched from a scheduled appearance or shut down from throwing."

And reliever Ron Belisario still not in camp due to visa issues in his native Venezuela, manager Joe Torre finally conceded definitively that the right-hander now has no chance of being on the season-opening roster.

"I know if he comes in now that he certainly isn't going to be available for us," Torre said. "So my concern is the guys who are available for us right now. I thought when I went to Taiwan, I would get back and he would be here. So ever since then, I stopped thinking about it. I think whatever happens, it's a missed opportunity. But I just don't concern myself with things I have no control over."

Pitching Probables Sunday, March 28 at Reds: LHP Clayton Kershaw and RHP Ramon Troncoso.

 Score by innings
Seattle       	000 000 001-1
Los Angeles	021 000 00x-3

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Furcal ss	3  0  0  0  .191 
 Carroll ss	1  0  0  0  .318
Kemp cf	        3  0  0  0  .277
 Johnson cf	0  0  0  0  .282
Ethier rf	3  1  1  1  .280
 Paul rf	0  0  0  0  .276
Ramirez lf	3  1  1  0  .232
 Repko lf	0  0  0  0  .083
Loney 1b	3  0  0  0  .289
 Hu 2b	        0  0  0  0  .190
Blake 3b	3  1  2  1  .378
 Green pr-3b	0  0  0  0  .192
DeWitt 2b	3  0  1  0  .370
 RuOrtiz p	0  0  0  0  .000
Ausmus c	1  0  0  1  .176
 Ellis c	0  0  0  0  .300
 Anderson ph	1  0  0  0  .346
 Closser c	0  0  0  0  .333
Haeger p	2  0  0  0  .000
 RaOrtiz p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Monasterios p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Belliard 1b	1  0  0  0  .172
------------------------------------------
 Totals	        27 3 5 3
 Mariners	31 1 6 1

 Two-base hits- Blake (2). HR- Ethier (3).
RBI- Blake (7), Ausmus (2), Ethier (9).
SF- Ausmus. LOB- Los Angeles 1, Seattle
6. RISP- Los Angeles 1-for-2, Seattle
0-for-1. DP- Carroll, Hu and Belliard.

 Los Angeles	in  h  r-er bb so  era
Haeger (2-0)	5.1  2  0-0  1  5  2.38
RaOrtiz	        0.2  0  0-0  0  0  1.23
Monasterios	0.2  1  0-0  2  0  2.08
Miller	        0.1  0  0-0  0  0  3.38
RuOrtiz (sv 2)	2.0  2  1-1  0  3  2.40
 T- 2:24. Att- 13,583 (record).

Set Third Record in Nine Days
The game drew 13,583 fans, breaking the Cactus League Record for the fourth time in 2010 and the sixth time overall at the second-year facility. The mark topped the previous record of 13.506 set March 20 with the Padres. The Dodgers game with the Cubs on March 18 drew 13,391 and set the first record of the 2010 season.

Camelback Ranch-Glendale now boasts four of the top five and five of the best eight single-game attendance figures in Cactus League history.

Dodger Blue Notes-- The contest was the penultimate home game of the spring for the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch. The final Cactus League home game will be March 31, when a split-squad will take on the Giants. The other half of the squad will travel to Cashman Field in Las Vegas on Wednesday to play the Cincinnati Reds. ...Special Advisor to the Chairman Don Newcombe threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Newcombe remains the only player ever to win the Rookie of the Year (1949), the MVP, and the Cy Young Award (1956) in his career. In 2009, he was named Special Advisor to Chairman Frank McCourt and 2010 will be his 48th year with the organization. "Newk" started the Dodgers Community Relations Department in 1970. ...Catcher A.J. Ellis leads all NL Cactus Leaguers in walks (9), while ranking sixth in on-base percentage (.450). Second baseman Blake DeWitt ranks third in on-base percentage at .471 and eighth in slugging percentage with a .628 mark. DeWitt also ranks eighth with a .372 batting average. On the mound, Dodger pitchers hold three of the top 10 spots in ERA with Ramon Ortiz (1.29, 1st), Russ Ortiz (2.08, 6th), and Hiroki Kuroda (2.51, 7th). Chad Billingsley (1.86) and Clayton Kershaw (1.80) and Carlos Monasterios (2.19) would rank among the league leaders in ERA, but do not have enough innings to qualify for the league leaders. Ramon Ortiz also leads NL Cactus League pitchers with 19 strikeouts during Spring Training. ...Dodger Manager Joe Torre announced Thursday morning that right-hander Vicente Padilla will be the Dodgers' Opening Day starter at Pittsburgh on April 5. This will be Padilla's first-career Opening Day start and he will be the Dodgers fourth different Opening Day starter in as many years, joining Derek Lowe (2007), Brad Penny (2008) and Hiroki Kuroda (2009). Clayton Kershaw will then pitch game No. 2 on April 7, which also means he'll start the home opener on April 13 vs. Arizona. Kershaw will then be followed in turn by Chad Billingsley and Hiroki Kuroda. The fifth spot in the rotation, which will come up for the first time on April 10 at Florida, has not been decided. --Dodgers Publicity      

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