Thursday, February 14, 2008

Schmidt is out, Loaiza is in as the 5th starter

The first day of Spring Training brought some confirmation of what people have long suspected: Jason Schmidt's shoulder will prevent him from starting the year in the rotation. So, it's now Plan B as Esteban Loaiza is the man.

I can't say I'm surprised about this. Anybody who follows the Dodgers closely knows that Schmidt was never given a green light to be a starter once April hits. Whenever his health was questioned, the response would be along the lines of "we'll see where he's at" or "it'll be taken day-by-day." In other words, he won't be ready like we hope. But, maybe it's a good thing that they're letting people know from the start not to expect miracles here and that he's going to be eased back into things. In the long-run, it's smart.

So now it's up to Loaiza to step up and be reliable. He seems to have confidence in himself when he said:

"I'm ready mentally and physically," said Loaiza, who was claimed last August from Oakland while still recovering from neck and knee operations. "That wasn't the real me last year. I've worked harder than I've ever worked over the winter. I've lost weight. I'm ready to go."

I guess that's a good thing. He was horrible with the Dodgers last year, so it's good to see him go back to the drawing board and rededicate himself. Of course, anyone can say they're "working harder than ever" whether they really are or not. He's won 125 games in his career, so let's hope he can regain his form.

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