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Non-roster invitee Wright earns bullpen role

Non-roster invitee Wright earns bullpen role

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Non-roster invitee Wright earns bullpen role
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jamey Wright won the Dodgers' bullpen battle of non-roster invitees and will have his contract guaranteed, while fellow veteran John Grabow exercised the out clause in his contract and was granted his unconditional release Monday.

The Dodgers would only confirm that Grabow had been granted his release.

Wright -- who has allowed two earned runs in 8 1/3 innings -- said he was told by general manager Ned Colletti that the papers were being drawn up to secure his $900,000 salary, the seventh consecutive season the right-hander has earned a job as a non-roster invitee.

The Dodgers invited 11 non-roster pitchers to camp, but the final bullpen spot has always been Wright's to lose. Barring the unexpected, Wright will join relievers Javy Guerra, Kenley Jansen, Scott Elbert, Mike MacDougal, Matt Guerrier and Todd Coffey

"I'm very proud of myself," said Wright. "It's been a lot of hard work. But I finished last year strong [with Seattle], as good as I ever have. In my mind, I didn't feel like an NRI guy. I feel I'll be a big part of this team."

The 37-year-old Wright can serve a number of roles. Just in this camp he has started, closed, pitched multiple innings of middle relief and on Monday inherited a runner on third base from Chad Billingsley with two out and struck out Brent Morel.

"Now I've done that, too," Wright said of his latest role.

Wright, a 13-year-veteran, makes the team after nearly becoming a Dodger three years ago. He thought he had a deal worked out with the club for the 2009 season, but failed the physical, a curious result considering he's been a workhorse ever since.

"I've always wanted to be here," the Oklahoma native and Texas resident said earlier this spring. "I've always loved pitching in Dodger Stadium. I love the place. Pitching there, there's something about Southern California that makes you happy."

Wright pitched in relief for Seattle last year, appearing in 60 games with a career-best 3.16 ERA. A one-time innings-eating starter, Wright has pitched in relief exclusively since 2008. A first-round pick of the Rockies in '93, he will be pitching for his 10th organization.

"Coming off a good year last year, I'm smart enough to know how the business works," he said about not receiving a Major League contract. "I didn't come in here ticked off. I came here ready to earn a spot."

Grabow, meanwhile, pitched as well -- if not better -- than Wright this spring, not allowing an earned run in six innings with seven strikeouts and one walk.

"I've been pitching real good, but there's not a spot available and I take that for what it is," said Grabow. "I'll just stay optimistic that I'll find a team that needs me. At least this gives me a head start to get to another team while there's still time before the season starts.

"I knew it would be tough and I did all I could. All you can do is prepare yourself to compete and I did. I'm happy with that part. We'll see if something opens up and go from there."

Manager Don Mattingly predicts something will open up for Grabow.

"Those lefties, you can count on seeing him again," Mattingly said.

Grabow, a Southern California native, was 3-1 with a 4.76 ERA for the Cubs in 2011. His best year was '08, when he had a 2.84 ERA in 74 appearances for the Pirates, and he was traded to the Cubs during the '09 season with Tom Gorzelanny. A workhorse from '04-'08, he encountered knee and shoulder issues the past two years but was healthy this spring.

With Wright in and Grabow out, the Dodgers seem content to go with Elbert as the lone lefty in the bullpen, a decision that looked even better Monday when Elbert struck out the side against the White Sox.

Lefty Scott Rice, the 30-year-old who has been impressive and is still in big league camp, can be sent down to the Minor Leagues and stockpiled if a replacement for Elbert is needed during the season. He will rejoin the other non-roster lefties sent down earlier -- Alberto Castillo, Matt Chico and Wil Ledezma.

Mattingly said Grabow could have exercised his out clause on Sunday, but stayed an extra day. He was scheduled to pitch in Tuesday's game against the Padres.

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

{"content":["spring_training" ] }
{"content":["spring_training" ] }
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