Sloppy play vexes Dodgers coaches

Sloppy play vexes Dodgers coaches

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- After flashing some pretty strong glovework this spring, Los Angeles booted the ball around in grand fashion on Thursday afternoon at Osceola County Stadium.

The Dodgers committed four errors in the first five innings and could have been charged with three more in Los Angeles' 7-6 loss to the Houston Astros, leaving interim manager Tommy Lasorda and third-base coach Larry Bowa peeved.

"We weren't able to makes some plays that really counted. That gave them some runs," said Lasorda, who is 0-3 while filling in for Joe Torre, managing part of the club in China. "Errors are part of the game, but it's the way you make errors, like throwing the ball away.

Two of the four errors were committed behind starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, making his fourth Grapefruit League start. Lasorda said the poor defensive play behind Kuroda, a pitcher who induces ground balls, prevented the right-hander from having a solid start.

"Kuroda threw the ball well, but if they'd have played defense, he would've come out of there having pitched really good. You cannot give the opposition outs," Lasorda said.

Bowa, a former Major League shortstop, was particularly upset about the giveaways.

"We made errors today, we just made errors," Bowa said. "You can't give teams 30 or 32 outs. You can't do it. But that's not our [starting] lineup. [Delwyn] Young's not an everyday player."

Bowa cited the 25-year-old Young as a Dodger who would have to step up and play better. An outfielder by trade who last played second base in 2005, Young committed two of Los Angeles' four miscues.

"He's got to do better than he's doing, I know that. He's not swinging the bat and he's not making plays. You've got to do one or the other. The guy has an opportunity," Bowa stated.

"Nobody here can complain about not getting a chance, with players hurt and part of the team in China."

Catcher Russell Martin had a throwing error on Michael Bourn's steal of second base. Second baseman Luis Maza also mishandled a ball.

One bright spot was third baseman Blake DeWitt, who has played most of his career at the Class A level. He turned an unassisted double play in the fifth inning with the bases loaded and young pitcher Clayton Kershaw in trouble.

"Anytime you can get out of a bases-loaded situation like that, especially with less than two outs, it's always a good thing," said DeWitt, who caught a line drive and tagged out Mark Loretta coming toward third.

The defense may get better, though. Infielder Tony Abreu returned from his examination in Philadelphia and resumed practicing on Thursday morning. Abreu hit and took ground balls at Dodgertown, but while there are no restrictions on his practice activities, trainer Stan Conte said there is no timetable for his return to games.

Abreu, 23, had surgery on Oct. 3 to repair a sports hernia. Last year he was rated as the best defensive second baseman in the Pacific Coast League by Baseball America.

Bill Whitehead is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.