Tagged: albuquerque isotopes blog

Reliever Loop Moves to Rotation

Isotopes left-handed reliever Derrick Loop will return to his independent-ball roots by taking over as the fifth starter in the ‘Topes pitching rotation. The pitcher boasts a starter’s record already, 6-2, while posting a 3.82 ERA through 37.2 innings of work. He is set to make his first start tonight against the Memphis Redbirds at 6:05 PM.

“I’m comfortable with my role right now, but if my role changes, I’ll embrace it,” Loop said earlier this year when asked how the team can utilize his talent. “I wouldn’t mind starting, I’m comfortable in that position too.”

Loop has appeared in 20 games out of the bullpen this season for Albuquerque. The Isotopes have typically used him in short spans of two to three frames, with his longest outing a 4.0 inning performance where he allowed four runs on seven hits. The lefty hurler currently owns the second lowest ERA of all ‘Topes relievers who have pitched at least eight innings, and his 37.2 frames of work are the second most among all Isotopes relievers.

Pitching Coach Glenn Dishman has been impressed with what’s he’s seen from the Albuquerque pitcher, noting how well Loop has taken advantage of his chances on the mound.

“I’m really proud of what he’s done this season,” said Dishman.  “He’s gotten his opportunity and he’s done well.”

The move sends previous starter, lefty Michael Antonini, to the bullpen to fill in as a mid-to-long innings reliever. The left-hander has struggled as a starter through the first half of the season, going 1-6 with a 5.43 ERA through 66.1 innings.  Antonini has allowed 14 home runs in 2012, tied for second-most in the circuit as of June 26. His final outing as a starter resulted in a loss with the hurler giving up five runs on seven hits, three of which left the yard.

Derrick Loop moves into the rotation

Roster Returning to Form

Alex Castellanos is back tonight. And Scott Van Slyke. And Jerry Sands.

Hey, even Josh Fields, Luis Cruz, Trent Oeltjen, Matt Angle and Tim Federowicz are here too. It’s like a seven-game winning streak ‘Topes reunion. But instead of trading stories about how good they used to be, they’re going to make new ones about how good they actually are.

“The nucleus of our club looks pretty close to what he had at the start of the season right now, and that’s a good thing,” Isotopes Manager Lorenzo Bundy said.

You don’t say.

That was the team that had six different guys batting over .300. Actually, that was the team that, as a whole, was hitting almost .300 (.289). They ranked second in home runs (20), third in RBI (111) and third in runs (119). They ate Powerbars for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

And now they’re back, and presumably, better than ever. With three of the everyday starters having seen time with the Dodgers already, PLUS a lineup that features the scorching hot Brian Cavazos-Galvez, the ‘Topes shouldn’t have any problems in the near future.

Except maybe fitting everyone into the lineup.

“That’s the time when your managerial skills come in as far as spreading time around,” Bundy said. “But at this level you don’t know who is going to be here one day and gone the next.”

Well, while they are here, I plan on thoroughly enjoying each and every day they crank up the bats. I plan on soaking in every box score that could easily belong to a football game: 7-3, 14-6, 21-0… A little too far? I think not.

“Obviously having everyone back here makes us strong again in a sense,” Isotopes Hitting Coach John Valentin said. “We hope to get back on a roll like we did early in the year and get back to first place.”

Go ahead and put us back on the fast track for the top rung. In the last week or so, the ‘Topes have moved from four and a half games back of first, to only one and a half. During the streak, as the big leaguers have begun to slowly trickle back to Albuquerque, the Isotopes have scored 10 or more runs in three of the four most recent victories.

“We’ve swung the bat really, really well the last few nights,” Valentin said. “Hopefully it’s a good sign that we’re going to start to get hot with the bats and help our pitching out.”

Oh yeah. I nearly forgot about the guys out on the mound for us, who, arguably, have been the biggest cause for the improved play. Between starters Fernando Nieve, Will Savage, Stephen Fife and John Ely, none of the hurlers have allowed more than four runs in their previous starts at home. And yes, that includes the rarefied air of Isotopes Park, which is not especially known for aiding pitching.

“We’ve been getting really good pitching, and that’s been a key point,” Valentin said.

Whatever you want to attribute our hot streak to lately, winning six of the last eight, it’s been vintage ‘Topes. Hitting. Scoring. Winning. It’s all coming together, much like the core of this season’s starting roster. However, the trick is going to be not chasing first place, just taking care of business day by day at the yard.

“We try not to look two or three days down the road, we just go for the day,” Bundy said. “I try to keep the guys focused on the moment and whatever happens tomorrow we’ll deal with it when we get there.”

He’s right. Who knows, maybe we’ll even get Elian Herrera back —

And have some real roster issues.

Scott Van Slyke is a key piece returning to the ‘Topes roster (Photo: Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers)

“Touching Base” with Trent Oeltjen

*Each homestand the ‘Topes Tattler will spotlight an individual on the Isotopes for the new segment, “Touching Base.” The blog will be checking in with various players and coaches to give fans an inside look at your 2012 ‘Topes. Make sure to keep checking back to see who is “touching base!”

Throw out your “Astrology Today” magazine, pause your “self-motivation book on tape” and tell your sports psychologist you’ll call him back. Just stop it all. These crazy things that help grasp this “complicated” game, throw it all out. There’s no need for any of that today. Today, we’re just going to play baseball.

And for ‘Topes outfielder Trent Oeltjen, the baseball that’s played between the ears is no longer important.

The Aussie outfielder has witnessed the drawbacks of over-thinking on the diamond during his career. Or, to put it more bluntly, he’s been a part of it. His season’s stat chart thus far in 2012 bares a strong resemblance to an earthquake on the Richter Scale, where the highs take your breath away, and the lows, you might just glance over.

“I had a bit of a slow start,” Oeltjen said. “But since then I’ve really felt like myself again and have been trying to have fun playing the game.”

So the question is; how does he take the mental side out of baseball?

“I think just relaxing, not trying to do too much and just enjoying the game,” Oeltjen said. “Sometimes you try too hard and it doesn’t quite work that way, so you have to relax and have fun and just trust that what you’ve got is going to show up.”

Which, lately, has been a guessing game for the ‘Topes outfielder. On the season Oeltjen is batting .257 with 13 extra-base hits and 14 RBI. The numbers are absolutely solid enough, but they’re merely a shadow compared to the end of May, when he collected 13 hits in eight contests, including five multi-hit games.

“I just need to be more consistent and believe in myself,” said Oeltjen, who spent nearly half of the 2011 season at the Major League level with the Dodgers. “I had a lot of experience up there (with Los Angeles) last year, so that gave me the confidence to know that I am a Major League player.”

But three hits a night or not, here in Albuquerque, he’s still a Minor League star.

The carefree, always smiling Oeltjen takes center stage every time he suits up for the Isotopes. This season marks his third consecutive year he’s played for Albuquerque, at least for part of the year, and from the “Aussie Aussie” chants to his “fan club” above the dugout, you’d think the fan favorite was born and raised right here in the Duke City (insert Brian Cavazos-Galvez).

“It’s awesome to play here with such great fans because they’re always behind me and it helps me out a lot,” Oeltjen said. “It can be like a home away from home for me.”

He also said that the rest of the guys in the locker room can sometimes get a little envious of the amount of attention he receives on the field.

“They wish they had it too,” Oeltjen joked.

Other voices in the locker room, namely the coaching staff, also like what they see in the Aussie player. Oeltjen said as long as ‘Topes Manager Lorenzo Bundy keeps penciling him in the lineup, the outfielder plans to continue to leave it all out on the field and attempt to make it back to the big leagues.

“I’ve played with them (‘Topes coaches) all before and they know what they’re getting in me,” Oeltjen said. “I hustle and play hard every game and good things happen when you do that. I want to take that and continue to have good at-bats and get back up there to Los Angeles.”

But even if he stays here with the Isotopes this season, he’ll still have local fans offering their support. When asked about eliminating the mental aspects of baseball, Oeltjen largely credited his fanbase’s support for his success.

“The fans help keep you up,” Oeltjen said. “They remind you how fun it is to run out there every day and put a jersey on and play baseball.”

After all, it is just a kid’s game isn’t it?

‘Topes Outfielder Trent Oeltjen

Former ‘Tope Oeltjen Set for Return to Albuquerque

It had been a long time coming when the Dodgers optioned outfielder Trent Oeltjen to minor-league camp after Saturday’s 9-3 win against the D-backs.

Oeltjen was vying for a roster spot in a crowded Dodgers outfield that included four players ahead of the former ‘Tope, perhaps most importantly versatile fielder Jerry Hairston. Even so, Oeltjen didn’t make it easy on the Dodgers after batting .289 this spring and scoring two runs in Saturday’s exhibition game. But despite the solid performance, Los Angeles’ roster couldn’t support a spot for the outfielder.

Oeltjen has appeared in 99 big-league games since his MLB debut with the D-backs in 2009. He batted .220 during that tenure, most recently dropping to .197 through 61 games with the Dodgers in 2011. Conversely, the outfielder racked up 149 hits in 465 at-bats (.339) with the ‘Topes last season, the highest among all Isotopes with more than 55 games for the Triple-A club.

The roster move leaves the next and near final Dodgers transactions to involve an infield position between former ‘Tope Justin Sellers and non-roster invitee Josh Fields. Sellers’ performance has fluctuated during spring training and currently includes a .308 batting average, while Fields got off to a hot start before recently cooling off to hit .273.

Stay tuned for more up-to-the-minute roster updates as the ‘Topes prepare for the 2012 campaign beginning April 5 at the Omaha Storm Chasers.

Trent Oeltjen is headed to minor-league camp

Troncoso Clears Waivers, Headed to ‘Topes

Relief pitcher, Ramon Troncoso, has cleared waivers and will be sent to Triple-A Albuquerque to begin the 2012 season. Troncoso was originally designated for assignment last Thursday to reinstate Ronald Belisario from the restricted list. The reliever was out of options on his minor-league contract and had to clear waivers in order to return to the Dodgers’ organization.

Troncoso got off to a shaky start in spring training, posting a 5.40 ERA through five innings pitched. He will likely continue his role of the previous few years, spending most of the season with the Isotopes while making a few, spot relief appearances with the Dodgers.

The left-hander looked like a promising reliever during the 2009-10 seasons under then-manager, Joe Torre. In a somewhat bittersweet situation, Torre relied heavily on the lefty’s arm throughout both campaigns, pitching Troncoso 73 times in 2009 and 15 times in a 21 game stretch during 2010. The heavy workload may have worn on the reliever’s arm as he hasn’t posted consistent numbers since the call-ups.

Following his big league stints of two seasons ago, Troncoso has pitched 79 innings in the hitter-friendly confines of Isotopes Park.  His 2011 highlights include tossing nine consecutive, scoreless innings during a six-game span last season, and earning 18 relief appearances with the Dodgers.

If Troncoso can return to “2009 form,” he could serve as a consistent reliever in both the ‘Topes’ and Dodgers’ bullpen.

Ramon Troncoso has cleared waivers and will start the season with the 'Topes (Photo: LA Times)

Former ‘Tope Not Ready to Hang Up Cleats

The former big league catcher wakes up in his house in small-town Garner, N.C., far removed from the ballpark lights of Colorado. It’s been nearly eight years since his first major-league hit with the Rockies, off four-time MLB all-star and Olympic gold medalist, Ben Sheets, none the less.

He rolls over and sees his nightstand lined with championship rings. Yep, still there.

All five of them.

But this life seems a thing of the past to the ex-MLB backstop. He now has a family, a wife, two kids, who, if he’s not out of bed soon, might not make it to school on time. Sighing and swinging his legs onto the floor, he puts on his regular clothes, no baseball uniform today. This morning, there’s no time to play catcher, it’s time to play dad.

“Class Act,” is how one of his former coaches describes him. “He cares, works hard, listens and tries to get better.”

But just because he’s out of the game, doesn’t mean he can’t stay in touch. Typing from his Twitter account he sends a message to current Dodgers’ prospect, Justin Sellers, who’ll be headed to spring training in just a few weeks.

“Things r good just enjoying the time with the family,” he tweets to Sellers. “Glad they (the team) r doing well tell them I say hello as well. Good luck this year.”

Those were the days.

The days when he was named “Mr. Baseball” in Indiana. The days when he was drafted in the fifth round directly out of high school. The days when he was on the fast-track to the Majors, set to be an everyday starter in 2005 by Baseball America.

Those were the days.

Before then, scouts weren’t drooling over his power at the plate. He wasn’t winning state championships in high school yet, much less showing up on anybody’s radar as a potential MLB star.

He was, however, known by his original name, Jeffrey Darrin.

Jeffrey Darrin Closser, or as of 1999, J.D. Closser, was tagged for baseball success. He led the minor leagues in various hitting categories his first three seasons as a professional and even hit over .300 in 36 games during his first MLB call-up — all by the age of 24. Closser collected Player of the Months and All-Star appearances like it was his job.

And until July 16 of last season, it was.

After 14 years as a professional baseball player, several stints in the Majors and various appearances in Triple-A ball, Closser got the news every big league athlete dreads; you’ve been cut.

The transaction came as a shock to both Closser and fans of Triple-A Albuquerque, as the catcher had been a critical part of the 2009 ‘Topes PCL Division Championship while continuing to hit .297 during the 2011 campaign. Closser’s release wasn’t necessarily on performance either, just a needed move to create roster space for A.J. Ellis.

Even Isotopes Manager, Lorenzo Bundy, admitted it was a hard decision to make.

“It was tough, it was really tough,” Bundy told the Albuquerque Examiner. “Obviously the best stretch of the year we had, he was a big part of it. He carried us for a couple weeks. He took it (being cut)  like an ultimate pro, disappointed at first.”

Didn’t someone say “class act?”

Faced with a decision to hang up the cleats or leave his family behind in a few months for winter baseball in the Dominican Republic, Closser had to weigh out his options. The catcher was 31 years old, still had a love for baseball, but hadn’t stepped foot on a Major League diamond in five years. Should he forget the elusive dream of becoming a big league star?

This time, it wasn’t a tweet that kept Closser in touch with baseball.

A text from the North American Baseball League’s (NABL) Edmonton Capitals offered one last chance for the backstop. The team’s Manager, Orv Franchuk, reached out to add Closser to a team in the heat of a championship race. This championship, however, was for a team in Canada that belonged to a developing league in its first ever season as the NABL.

“Orv texted me the day I got released,” Closser told the Edmonton Sun. “I wasn’t quite sure if this is where I wanted to come right away. But Orv kept coming after me and nothing was coming up, so I decided to come to Edmonton, stay in shape and see how things go.”

Canada Independent League baseball is a long way from the lights of The Show, but staying in baseball ultimately overruled the downgrade from an MLB stage. Closser stayed true to form to humbly approach this new chance in a non-affiliated league.

“I’m here to do pretty much whatever’s needed,” Closser said after joining the Capitals with only 30 games remaining in the regular season. “I just want to be out here, I just want to be in the lineup as much as I can.”

The Capitals had no problem penciling Closser into the lineup on a nightly basis. He became an overnight sensation, batting .333 during the regular season and an unmatched .421 during the playoffs.  Closser’s consistent swing propelled Edmonton to the Championship series against the Rio Grande Valley Wings.

Only two months removed from unemployment, and he’s stepping back into the box for a championship ring.

Edmonton, on the back of former MLB catcher Closser, took the inaugural NABL championship in five games, scoring seven or more runs in each of their victories. Closser sparked the offensive success by slapping a .522 average for the series, including a four-for-five performance in the series-clinching game.

Chance to gloat after dominating Rio Grande’s pitching?

“It’s really cold!” Closser said after being showered with Champagne in the post-game interview.

Unfortunately, the celebrations didn’t last long for Edmonton and the NABL. On Feb. 21, 2012, the Capitals officially announced the team would suspend operations for the 2012 season, citing a drop in registered teams in the North American League. The club has released a number of its players, including J.D. Closser.

“We would love to have him back,” Capitals Manager Orv Franchuk said. “I think he could be a backup catcher for at least 15 big league clubs — he’s that good.”

As for Closser, Edmonton was just another stop on his roller coaster ride back to the big leagues. The MLB, MilB and NALB veteran isn’t ready to call it quits just yet, and continues to look for the right opportunity.

Responding to a question from his Twitter account about “hanging up the cleats” Closser said, “No don’t want to, just don’t have a job offer as of now —

Waiting for the call.”

A text or tweet will also suffice.

J.D. Closser was instrumental in the 'Topes 2009 PCL Division Championship

Sands (Out) Of Time

We thought it might be enough to hang on.

When Jerry Sands stepped into the box Monday afternoon, facing a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the ninth, he had the chance to leave the stadium as a hero.

And he did. (http://atmlb.com/GUPoXc)

Sands ripped a walk-off single to send the White Sox packing in a not-so-important spring training game. To the Dodgers, a walk-off hit is nice. To Sands, a walk-off hit can be the difference between Prime Rib in Los Angeles and Green Chile in Albuquerque.

The game-winner also came in the wake of Sands’ nine consecutive hitless at-bats. The hit had the potential to give the infielder some of his confidence back, which up until Monday, came at a premium. Without putting the former Isotope to too much shame, Sands was hitting only roughly better than I am while I sit at my desk.

“I have been feeling pretty brutal,” Sands told ESPN. “I’m just trying to work on some things. I have made some adjustments here and there, and I’m trying to get comfortable with some of the changes that I have made.”

You have to feel for the guy who showed such great flashes of potential last season when he hit .342 in 20 games during September for the Dodgers. Sands had tinkered with his swing a few times before posting those numbers, a sort of foreshadow to spring training.

At camp, Dodgers’ hitting coaches (that’s plural, coaches — all three of them) each offered their own insight to perfect Sands’ swing. And Sands, a teacher himself, knows three different voices telling you three different things can lead to trouble.

“You like to get help, and a lot of different people were trying to help,” Sands said.”But everybody is different as a hitter. I appreciate the help, and I love to listen, because I know I don’t know all of it. But I was up there thinking so many things at the plate, thinking about my swing and all that, and it’s tough enough already when you have that pitcher throwing 95 (mph).

A classic case of over-thinking.

Sands had initially entered camp with a legitimate, if not almost certain, shot at making the Opening Day 25-man roster. He has the ability to serve as a power-hitter for the Dodgers against lefties, but was never able to perform quite up to par in Glendale, Arizona.

“Even with the hit yesterday, he doesn’t feel good, he doesn’t feel right,” Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said. “It’s been a rough camp for Jerry, and obviously, Jerry knows it.”

With those final words to seal Sands’ fate, Mattingly today announced he had optioned Sands to minor-league camp, most likely placing him in Albuquerque for the start of the 2012 season. From there, Sands has been told he may still figure into the Dodgers’ game plan at some point later this season.

“Right now, I’m just trying to see some pitches and get good swings on them,” Sands said. “I’m taking it at-bat to at-bat and pitch to pitch.”

May I suggest walk-off to walk-off?

Jerry Sands has been optioned to minor-league camp (Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Potential ‘Tope, Griff Erickson: “Any Chance is a Good Chance”

For Dodgers catching prospect, Gorman Erickson, spring training isn’t as much about honing his skills as it is just figuring out how the whole process actually works.

Gorman, or Griff, as he’s known around Dodger Town, is wrapping up his first stint at a big league spring training after playing as a professional since the 2007 season. The catcher has already been reassigned to minor-league camp, where his eventual landing spot is still unknown.

Luckily, finding an opening on the Dodgers starting roster takes a back seat to simply finding out where the camp-rookie is supposed to be on a day-to-day basis.

“I haven’t seen the way (camp) is perceived when you’re a player,” Erickson told Dodgers Independent Blogger Kenny Shulsen. “The little things you have to do – how to get to the clubhouse, how to deal with people, where you’re staying – the team has done a really good job helping us out with all the small things you need to know when you get to the big leagues.”

Like how to approach your first at-bat when you hit the diamond in Glendale, Arizona?

“The first at-bat didn’t go so well,” Erickson laughed. “It was all just a blur that first time. I then settled in and got a few knocks in there.”

Griff didn’t get a chance to settle in for too long before the Dodgers gave him the expected news of playing in the minors. Erickson originally survived the first round on of cuts on March 15, but faced the inevitable reassignment almost halfway through spring training on March 18.

“It’s like everyone always says, you just have to keep working hard,” Erickson said. “Every day is a competition. You have to go out there and leave it all on the field and try as hard as you possibly can.”

That’s the kind of refreshing attitude found only in a player who’s happy just to be at spring training.

Still, even after adjusting to the workout’s daily grind, Griff admitted the Major League learning curve is an eye-opening experience.

“You  don’t know what it’s like until you actually get here and get to talk to all the guys,” Erickson said. “You realize just how much information and how many little things you can pick up… if you’re willing to. It’s unbelievable”

After being drafted in 2006, Griff signed with the Dodgers organization at the start of the ’07 season. He’s suited up for parts of three seasons in Rookie ball, two in Single-A, one in Double-A and a few games at the Triple-A level. This year’s spring training may serve as the eventual launching pad for Erickson’s MLB debut.

“It’s a great introduction to what life would be like when you get called up,” Erickson told MiLB.com. “Coming to your first big league camp it’s all about soaking up all the information you can. Just being here for the short amount of time I have, I still feel like I’ve added a lot of things to my game.

His question now becomes not IF he will be a part of the Dodgers organization, but WHERE in the minors he’ll actually end up.

But to Erickson, that’s not really an issue.

“Any chance is a good chance,” he said. “It’s another opportunity for me to be a part of something bigger.”

Gorman Erickson is still adjusting to big league camp

Josh Fields and “The Curse of the Tattler”

I’m scared to write this blog. I’ll admit it. I seem to have brought bad luck, bad at-bats and a bad spring training in general to anyone I spotlight in the ‘Topes Tattler. I’m sincerely sorry Jerry Sands (now batting .174), Justin Sellers (injured on March 19, and going 3-for-his-last-13 before) and Scott Van Slyke (hitless in 5 of 10 exhibition games). Please don’t hold it against me.

So, to at least make myself feel better about all of this, I’ll blame the recent streak of terrible luck on the ‘Topes Tattler, and not myself.

We’ll call it “The Curse Of The Tattler.”

Fingers crossed, knocking on wood, rabbit foot in my other hand, witchcraft book open to any page but 13 — deep breath — here we go: Hello, Josh Fields.

Anyone who is anyone knows about the final roster battle waging between former ‘Topes Jerry Sands and Justin Sellers, now also features another PCL player from 2011, Josh Fields. The trio is in a daily competition against each other, where every at-bat weighs as much, if not more, than all previous playing time in each prospect’s career. The winner to the Pro’s, the losers (though not really “losers” in our book) to the Isotopes.

No pressure or anything.

Even at the very top the situation is as unclear today as it was before spring training started. Dodgers General Manager, Ned Colletti, recently told Dodgers Radio that the ever-changing shape of the Opening Day roster is “fluid.”

“We’ll see what the situation is day-by-day and do what’s best for everybody,” Colletti said.

Given the nature of this year’s spring training, day-to-day is about as fair as any player can ask. This also means the last reserve, bench spot on the Dodgers 25-man will likely be decided within the next nine spring training games.

Three players. Two at-bats a game. One roster spot.

And one Curse of the Tattler.

But as of recent, nonroster invitee Josh Fields has slowly begun to emerge as the likely candidate, hitting .385, second on the team to only Andre Ethier (.440). In fact, Fields credits much of his success at the plate to the point that he WASN’T a roster invitee this spring.

“It gives you a little bit more to strive for, a little bit more drive to come in,” Fields told the LA Daily News. “I’m going to earn every single bit of it. I’m past the point of having things handed out and given (to me).”

Fields’ lack of notice from other teams may come from his decision to split from Triple-A Colorado Springs last season, to finish out 2011 overseas for Yomiuri in the Japan Central League.  Playing the corners of the infield for the Giants, Fields appeared in 50 games while hitting a lack-luster .202.

That’s the kind of numbers that cause coaches to hesitate when offering a new contract, especially when they’re unsure of a player’s loyalty to staying in Major League Baseball.

However, Fields was eventually offered, and signed, a contract to play in the Dodgers system, most likely beginning the season in Albuquerque. Now that overseas ball is a thing of the past, Fields insists he’s here for the long-run.

“I had an offer to go back to Japan, but I chose not to,” he told ESPN. “My focus is here. This is where I want to be… But I know I’m going to have to hit my way back to the big leagues.”

Hitting .385 in 15 games (tied for most on the team) is a good start for Fields. As is playing enough positions around the diamond you’d think the Dodgers had six guys named Josh Fields.

“He’s been pretty good,” Manager Don Mattingly said. “We’ve been trying different things — first, third, left (last Monday) — and you can’t complain about any of his at-bats.”

An all-around utility fielder seems to be the go-to route for this final roster position.  Between Fields, Sellers and Sands, the nonroster invitee is beginning to stake out a small advantage with his versatility. He’ll be able to fill-in across the field, which in-turn will likely create a few more at-bat opportunities as spring training comes to its conclusion.

And although his recent tagline may read “Made in Japan,” Fields assured the entire organization that he wants to be here, battling it out for the last roster opening.

“I’m a Dodger,” Fields said. “I just want to stay healthy and show them what I can do.”

I just hope for curses’ sake, he doesn’t read this.

Josh Fields looks to avoid "The Curse of the Tattler" and earn a final roster spot with the LAD (Photo courtesy of Lasorda's Lair)

Dodgers Make Second Round of Cuts, DeJesus to Have MRI

The Dodgers made further progress towards setting their opening-day 25-man roster with a second round of cuts on Sunday.

Eight players in total will put their Major League dreams on hold for now, seven being assigned to minor league camp and one pitcher, Alberto Castillo, being released by the Dodgers. The club has now reassigned 16 prospects to minor league camp, which runs from March 18-30.

“All those guys, they’ve all had pretty good camps as far as work,” Manager Don Mattingly told the Associated Press. “It’s just getting to the point (where) there’s not enough at-bats to get guys any playing time.”

Below is a list of players re-assigned to minor league camp through the first two rounds of Dodgers cuts:

Matt Chico (2011; 5.06 ERA in 10.2 innings, Triple-A Syracuse)
Ryan Tucker (2011; 5.40 ERA in 68.1 innings, Triple-A Round Rock)
Will Savage (2011; 3.95 ERA in 141.1 innings, Double-A Chattanooga)
Chris Withrow (2011; 4.20 ERA in 128.2 innings, Double-A Chattanooga)
Josh Wall (2011; 3.93 ERA in 68.2 innings, Double-A Chattanooga)
Stephen Fife (2011; 3.66 ERA in 103.1 innings, Double-A Portland)
Michael Antonini (2011; 4.01 ERA in 148.0 innings, Double-A Chattanooga)
Shane Lindsay (2011; 1.98 ERA in 63.2 innings, Triple-A Charlotte)

Matt Wallach (2011; .247 in 186 AB, Double-A Chattanooga)
Gorman Erickson (2011; .275 in 142 AB, Double-A Chattanooga)
Lance Zawadzki (2011; .233 in 326 AB, Triple-A Omaha)
Jeff Baisley (2011; .303 in 538 AB, Triple-A Salt Lake)
Alfredo Silverio (2011; .306 in 533 AB, Double-A Chattanooga)
Scott Van Slyke (2011; .348 in 457 AB, Double-A Chattanooga)
Alex Castellanos (2011; .322 in 121 AB, Double-A Chattanooga)
Russ Mitchell (2011; .283 in 336 AB, Triple-A Albuquerque)

For now, former Isotopes Jerry Sands, Justin Sellers and Ivan DeJesus Jr. still have a chance to earn a roster spot for Opening Day. However, DeJesus left last Saturday’s game in the seventh inning after pulling his left oblique muscle. The middle infielder complained of discomfort on his first swing of the at-bat, and is awaiting results of Monday’s MRI to know the extent of the injury.

“It’s hard to compete when you can’t be out there,” Mattingly said. “With this type of injury, there’s not a lot you can do. If you lose eight to 10 days, how many days does it take just to get your timing back? Not a good time to get hurt. You could see it on his face last night. These guys know it hurts your chance.”

Either way, it’s a safe bet Isotopes fans will greet DeJesus with a warm welcome if he’s back in Albuquerque again this season.

Big league roster experience or not.

Ivan DeJesus Jr. will await MRI results (Courtesy LA Times)