Notes: Clubhouse tension mounts
Dodgers anxious to break out of month-long struggles
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers clubhouse was a noticeably tense place Wednesday.
Luis Gonzalez, as cooperative as they come, complained openly about the media's negativity in an apparent attempt to deflect the heat when reporters questioned pinch-hitter Mark Sweeney, who forgot how many outs there were and ended Tuesday night's game by getting doubled off first base on Juan Pierre's foul pop. Sweeney was not available after Tuesday night's game.
"It was a mistake I made, it was an embarrassing moment and there's nothing I can do about it now," Sweeney said. "Obviously, I thought -- I can't even tell you what I thought. It was one out. No excuse. I feel bad for everybody in the room."
The pre-game session with manager Grady Little was equally uncomfortable, with familiar answers to familiar questions about the team's downward spiral.
"We'll find that winning combination soon. Maybe today," said Little, who dropped slumping Gonzalez in the lineup to seventh. "It's a tough time when you're playing like we're playing. It's tough to ask these questions and tough to answer. We'll get through this.
"These guys won't quit. The effort is there, the will to win, the intensity is there. The results are just not there. They are working as hard as ever.
"Everybody is looking for any solution we can find, but when it comes down to it, the hitter in the box is facing the pitcher and they're on their own."
Draft pick wasted: The Dodgers and fifth-round Draft pick Kyle Blair broke off talks after failing to finalize an agreement Wednesday. At 9 p.m. PT the club loses all rights to Blair, who will attend the University of San Diego and won't be draft-eligible until 2010.
Blair, an 18-year-old right-handed pitcher from Los Gatos High School in Northern California, was believed seeking something in the neighborhood of the $1.35 million the Dodgers gave Chris Withrow, their first-round Draft pick. Blair was considered a first-round talent who fell because of signability questions. The Dodgers took a chance in hopes of landing a second talent of first-round quality.
"We didn't have a meeting of the minds," said assistant general manager Logan White. "We knew it might be tough. They were up front with where they were at and never changed. We just couldn't get to where they wanted to get."
Abreu returns: Second base prospect Tony Abreu, out almost a month with symptoms of a sports hernia, returned to action for Triple-A Las Vegas on Tuesday, going 2-for-4 with a double and three runs scored. Abreu figures to get a September callup and is generally considered the heir apparent to Jeff Kent.
Promising third baseman Andy LaRoche has been sidelined for 10 days with a back injury.
Friday's starter: Little said he would not announce his scheduled Friday night starting pitcher until after Thursday night's game. The presumption is Eric Stults, who would be promoted from Triple-A Las Vegas. Stults would have pitched one of the games of Wednesday night's double-header if he remained on his five-day rotation, but D.J. Houlton started the opener and Dwayne Polick was listed to start the nightcap.
Viva Los Dodgers: The Dodgers will celebrate the 10th annual Viva Los Dodgers festival prior to Saturday's game against the Colorado Rockies. This year's event will include top Latin acts Gloria Trevi, Fanny Lu, King Clave, The B-Side Players, Grupo Chido, Rayito Colombiano and Sonora Karnaval. Anais will sing the national anthem before the evening's game. The award-winning festival will include live music, entertainment and activities for the entire family.
Viva Los Dodgers will take place in Lot 1 at Dodger Stadium from 1-6 p.m. and parking gates will open at 12:30 p.m. Admission is free for fans holding a ticket to Saturday's game at 7:10 p.m.
Elvis has left the stadium: To commemorate Elvis Presley, a new feature at www.walteromalley.com, the historical Web site of Walter O'Malley, relates the narrative when Elvis Presley was filmed in scenes at Dodger Stadium for "Spinout", Presley's 22nd feature film.
Presley, in a role as a race car driver, is shown in "Spinout" driving through the Dodger Stadium parking lot as part of car racing scene. The filming took place in March, 1966. That was a big year for Dodger Stadium, as Presley shot a film there, the Beatles performed their second-to-last public concert, and the Dodgers would later win the National League pennant.
The feature will be available on www.walteromalley.com starting Thursday.
Coming up: Derek Lowe (8-11, 3.61) opposes Wandy Rodriguez (7-10, 4.34) Thursday night at 7:10 p.m. PT. Lowe is winless since June 22.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.