Notes: Dodgers shift Abreu to third

Notes: Dodgers shift Abreu to third

MIAMI -- The Dodgers promoted Andy LaRoche in hopes that he can help with the third-base crisis, but considering LaRoche was struggling at Triple-A, it will take more convincing than a double in his Sunday debut.

In the meantime, management apparently has decided to move talented middle infielder Tony Abreu to third base. Abreu had been playing second base, shortstop and third base (when LaRoche was playing left field), but he's been at third exclusively in the three games since LaRoche left. Veteran Minor League middle infielder Luis Maza was promoted from Double-A to take over second base.

Abreu went 2-for-5 Monday with a double, raising his average to .360 after hitting .340 in Spring Training, and he has some company in the Las Vegas clubhouse wondering what the secret formula is that gets a player to the Major Leagues. Outfielder Larry Bigbie, for example, is hitting .373 after hitting .357 in Spring Training. He has a June 1 escape clause and is expected to leave the organization for opportunities elsewhere.

James Loney, last year's Triple-A batting champ who couldn't make the club off a .414 spring average because Nomar Garciaparra is the first baseman, is batting only .258, which is still better than LaRoche, who was promoted while hitting .235 after hitting .175 in Spring Training.

"I got the call because of the need at the position," said LaRoche. "Obviously, a lot of guys down there are putting up better numbers. I didn't even think about it at the time, I was just excited. I'm sure some of them wish it had been them, but nobody said anything like that, they were all happy for me. I'm sure some were a little disappointed."

LaRoche was at third base again Monday night, dropped from sixth to eighth in the batting order because Russell Martin was back in the lineup hitting sixth.

Little said he would stick with LaRoche "for two or three days to see where it takes us." He had Andre Ethier batting seventh, but said they might flip-flop depending on matchups.

LaRoche was joined in Florida by his father, Dave, a former Major League pitcher and currently the pitching coach for Toronto's Double-A New Hampshire Fishcats in the Eastern League.

Schmidt progressing: That's the daily update from Jason Schmidt, disabled since April 15 with shoulder bursitis.

"Nothing is really important until I pitch off the mound, in a game, probably a rehab start," said Schmidt, who was throwing on flat ground in the outfield with a pitching motion at about half-speed before batting practice.

Early Wolf: Little said pitching coach Rick Honeycutt was mapping out a strategy to deal with Randy Wolf's early inning struggles, which also plagued him in Philadelphia earlier in his career.

Batters are hitting .444 against Wolf in the first 30 pitches of a game this year and .225 from pitches 31-90.

Kuo, Brazoban update: Hong-Chih Kuo pitched four innings in a no-decision Monday, allowing three runs and two homers while striking out five.

Yhency Brazoban pitched a scoreless inning Sunday, but needed 26 pitches to get through it, which is not what Little wants to see. Because his starting pitchers seem no more capable of pitching deep into games than a year ago, he wants relievers who can pitch more than one inning and do it frequently.

"It might be two days before we can use him again," Little said. "I'd like for every pitcher to be able to throw multiple innings. Coming off a surgery like that [Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery], it's hard to expect more than that."

Not Miller time: Greg Miller, whose longtime shoulder problems have been replaced by major control problems, had the kind of line Sunday that indicates all is not well. In 2 2/3 innings, he was charged with six earned runs on five hits and six walks, with five strikeouts. In his previous start, he allowed six walks in three innings. Miller has allowed 28 walks in 23 1/3 innings.

Lamurra time: In addition to Maza, the Dodgers promoted left-handed reliever B.J. Lamurra from Double-A Jacksonville, and he was the winning pitcher for Las Vegas on Sunday. Lamurra was acquired from the White Sox last year for Sandy Alomar Jr.

No Anderson update: Little said Marlon Anderson, disabled Sunday with a sore elbow, had an MRI on Monday, but results were not yet available.

Chat with Kent: Second baseman Jeff Kent will host a live web chat on dodgers.com on Tuesday at 1 p.m. PT.

Coming up: Mark Hendrickson (2-0, 1.30) opposes Wes Obermueller (1-1, 3.07) on Tuesday at 4:05 p.m. PT.

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