03/16/08 12:49 AM ET
Torre keeps tabs on Dodgers
Manager uses coaches, Internet to monitor progress at home
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
He's relied on box scores via the Internet and briefings by Bowa -- that's Larry Bowa, his third-base coach, who was on the phone immediately after exhibition games to fill in Torre on every Andre Ethier home run, all six pitches of Takashi Saito's Spring debut and Brad Penny's five scoreless innings.
It's been a little strange for Torre to miss all of those, but that's the cost of planting the seeds of baseball in China during this weekend's goodwill series against the Padres.
"It's one of those things. You get as much information as you can and I put a great deal of responsibility on my coaches, Bowa and Bob Schaefer -- it's not lip service," Torre said. "They're an extension of me."
Torre said he will huddle with general manager Ned Colletti on the flight to Arizona to discuss cuts, as the Dodgers still have 55 players in "camp" (including Andy LaRoche, who will be disabled) with barely two weeks until Opening Day. He said reviews of outings by Saito (healed from a calf injury) and Penny (the likely Opening Day starter) were excellent and that Delwyn Young's infield experiment has been shelved because of a sore arm.
The Dodgers were scheduled to leave China after Sunday's game for a 15-hour flight to Arizona, where they will spend the next two weeks training at the complex vacated by the Oakland A's, who open the season in Japan. The Dodgers will be off Monday, and the rest of the squad flies in from Florida after its game on Tuesday.
The squad from China will work out on Tuesday and the Florida squad will have an optional workout on Wednesday. The first Arizona exhibition game is Thursday.
For Sunday's game, Torre gave a sore Lucas May the day off after catching nine innings on Saturday. Ramon Martinez was nursing a bruised left foot after fouling a pitch off of it on Saturday. John Lindsey escaped injury despite a tumble when caught in a rundown.
Meanwhile, Torre said he was "proud" of his involvement in this series.
"Maybe a player who is 7 years old today and taking part in MLB's Play Ball program here will reach the big leagues as a utility player or a cleanup hitter someday," he said.
Torre said among the impression he leaves Beijing with is the traffic in this city of 13 million.
"Sitting in the first row of the bus is dangerous," he said. "People dart in and out. I finally saw an accident this morning; somebody fell off a bicycle. You can read the drivers' body language and can tell they're coming over. And the buses don't beep horns except when the light changes. They must be used to this. It's worse than New York, although it's crazy there, too. Here, it's high-speed."
Torre also experienced the remnants of years of Chinese closed culture when a CNN report on violent protests in Tibet against the Chinese government suddenly went dark on the hotel television. Two minutes later, when the report was over, CNN returned to the air.
"When that happens here, you don't call the desk to complain," he half-joked. "At home, sometimes you get impatient with what you watch, that sometimes it seems freedom of speech and expression you think is overdone. But you see the other side, and it doesn't feel right.
"I'm glad I'm here to play and manage baseball. You like to believe that sports can circumvent that stuff."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.