first_img Little said he has settled on the answers to two of the most burning questions of the spring: Who will take the mound in the season opener April 2 at Milwaukee and in what order the top twohitters, Rafael Furcal and Juan Pierre, will come to the plate. But he wasn’t telling. It is a safe bet Derek Lowe will get the ball against the Brewers. But there is a slight chance Little will go with newcomer Jason Schmidt instead, because that would push Lowe to the next day and would align Lowe to pitch the home opener April 9. The Furcal-Pierre issue still could go either way. “These two players have been leading off their whole lives,” Little said. “We don’t want either one of them to change a lot just because we’re suddenly putting one of them in a position to hit second.” LATE CALL Veteran catcher Kelly Stinnett spent Saturday coaching his kids’ flag football team in the Phoenix area while waiting for his agent to get him an invitation to spring training – any spring training. Sunday morning, he was walking into Dodgertown, fresh from a red-eye flight, having accepted a strangely-timed minor league contract from the Dodgers. Barring an injury to Russell Martin or Mike Lieberthal, Stinnett, 37, will spend the season at Triple-A Las Vegas – although the Dodgers likely would let him out of his deal if another team came calling with a major league offer. “We just wanted to add to our (catching) depth,” general manager Ned Colletti said. “We discussed it in a meeting and decided that was an area we needed to add to.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “That last starting spot is what I’m going after,” Tomko said. “I worked hard during the offseason and came to camp in as good a shape as I have ever been, and I have one goal.” Club officials would love to see Tomko reach that goal, especially since he is by far the most handsomely compensated ($4.1million this season) of the seven candidates. Tomko, who at the time was struggling as a starter, readily agreed to a request by manager Grady Little last July that he go to the bullpen for the rest of the season. VERO BEACH, Fla. – Brett Tomko staked a verbal claim to the vacant fifth spot in the Dodgers’ starting rotation Sunday. The veteran right-hander’s hope now is that his revamped pitching motion will help him stake that same claim on the field. center_img But after spending the entire winter changing his mechanics to keep the ball hidden from a batter’s view longer into his delivery, Tomko believes he can once again be an effective major league starter – especially since the glamor spots in the pen appear to be taken by closer Takashi Saito and setup man Jonathan Broxton. “I went to the bullpen with the intention of trying to help out and maybe work into being the closer,” Tomko said. “But we have a closer, and we have a setup guy.” He threw his first side session of spring training Saturday, after which he said this motion not only is more deceptive than his old one, but also less taxing. Tomko is scheduled to throw again today, but that became tentative when he turned his right ankle while walking in the yard of the home he is staying in. The ankle was slightly sprained. Little said he doesn’t expect it to affect Tomko’s throwing program. TIGHT LIPS last_img

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