Torre downplaying expectations of Manny
Skipper happy with his slugger balancing production
MIAMI -- It's become something of a recurring theme this year, but manager Joe Torre again downplayed expectations of Manny Ramirez's power.
"There's expectations of home runs and all the bells and whistles that go with it, but right now he's a good hitter, a productive hitter," said Torre. "He's better balance-wise. Last year he came back [from a 50-game suspension] trying to hit home runs. It knocked him off his game."
Torre indicated that Ramirez and third baseman Casey Blake would not be in Sunday's starting lineup, as he holds to his intentions of resting both in day games following night games.
Kemp reflects on near collision with Johnson
MIAMI -- Matt Kemp and Reed Johnson had a near collision in left-center on Thursday chasing Bobby Crosby's long gapper that Kemp ultimately ran down. The two outfielders clipped feet and both went sprawling, but neither was injured.
"That was scary. Really scary," said Kemp, who has the right to any ball he can reach as the center fielder. "It can be tough with new outfielders, and yesterday I had new guys on each side, with Garret Anderson in right. I'm used to working with [Andre Ethier], and with Manny [Ramirez], I know what he can get, and he knows when I can get to the ball, he backs off.
"Yesterday, Reed got a good jump, and I got a good jump at the same time. We both called for it, but when you're running and calling, you can't hear anybody else calling. And the wind made it tougher. And when I'm looking at a ball that I can catch, I'm not looking at anything but the ball, so I won't see another outfielder coming. That can be good, because I'm focused on the ball, but it can be bad, because I won't see a collision coming."
Torre's bullpen a work in progress
MIAMI -- Manager Joe Torre said that he's still "trying to organize" his bullpen. What he didn't say was that as soon as he does, it figures to change.
Ronald Belisario threw an 18-pitch inning in his first extended spring training game in Arizona on Friday.
"His velocity was good and his arm was working fine, but he was a little rusty," said pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, who indicated that Belisario could need a half-dozen games before he is ready to be activated after missing five weeks of Spring Training because of visa problems.
Hong-Chih Kuo will test his elbow with a bullpen session on Sunday. Kuo is returning slowly, and there is no estimated timetable for his return.
Torre is sure about Jonathan Broxton as his closer, but not much else. In the past two games, he's asked Jeff Weaver to get the Dodgers out of jams with runners on base, which he's done successfully. Last year, Weaver was a long reliever swingman.
Russ Ortiz seems to have that long reliever role now. Torre still wants to use George Sherrill in the eighth inning, although he said that if left-handed hitters are due up in the seventh, Sherrill might appear then.
"We'll try to find the dangerous inning," he said.
Ramon Troncoso seems to have inherited Belisario's setup role. Ramon Ortiz's role is yet to be defined, and Rule 5 pick Carlos Monasterios hasn't earned the right to pitch with the game on the line yet, but Torre said he was impressed with the way Monasterios was not rattled when a popup dropped untouched with runners on base on Thursday. Monasterios retired the next two batters to put down the rally.
Ausmus makes a record-setting start
MIAMI -- Brad Ausmus, who started behind the plate on Thursday, passed Benito Santiago and tied former Dodgers catcher Al Lopez for seventh place all-time for Major League games caught, at 1,918. Next up is Jim Sundberg, at 1,927.
Ausmus also tied former Dodger Shawn Green for the all-time record for regular-season games by Jewish players, at 1,951, according to JewishMajorLeaguers.org.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.