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04/09/09 3:35 PM ET

Here's a first: DeWitt leads off for LA

Dodgers infielder spells Furcal at shortstop, top of order

SAN DIEGO -- Blake DeWitt not only was in the starting lineup at shortstop Thursday for the Dodgers, but he also was given regular shortstop Rafael Furcal's leadoff spot in the batting order.

"Anything can happen in baseball," joked DeWitt, who's been pretty handy since he burst on the scene last spring but is hardly the prototypical leadoff hitter.

"I just didn't want to disrupt everyone else," said Dodgers manager Joe Torre, who left the remainder of his lineup from the previous three games intact. "I decided to just insert Blake. He has good at-bats. He just doesn't have basestealing speed. But there's no reason not to [have him bat first]."

DeWitt couldn't remember the last time he hit leadoff, but it wasn't last year in the Major Leagues, when he batted in every spot of the order except first. Statistically, he seemed most comfortable batting eighth, where he averaged .319 with a .410 on-base percentage and .417 slugging percentage in 72 at-bats. On the bases, DeWitt was successful on his only three attempted steals.

DeWitt was to make his professional debut at shortstop in the game, after playing there for 47 innings in 10 Spring Training games.

Furcal is expected back in the lineup Friday night in Arizona, when catcher Russell Martin will yield to backup Brad Ausmus.

Torre said he expected closer Jonathan Broxton and reliever Cory Wade to be available Thursday but not Hong-Chih Kuo. All three pitched Wednesday night, with Broxton notching his second save.

Injured outfielder Delwyn Young, on the 15-day disabled list with a sore right elbow, was to start an injury rehabilitation assignment at Triple-A Albuquerque.

Torre said he wasn't sure when Jason Schmidt would pitch next but expected to discuss it with the pitcher over the weekend in Arizona, where Schmidt is in extended spring training.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.