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Baez looks sharp in first live action on mound

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The general manager, two of his special assistants, three club vice presidents and other assorted club officials turned out to watch a seven-year Dodgers Minor Leaguer pitch his first career inning of a game against another team.

That's the kind of commotion that transformed third baseman Pedro Baez has created this spring.

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Baez retired Team Italy in order in his one inning of work, his first since wowing Sandy Koufax in a bullpen session earlier in the week. Team Italy's hitting coach is former Dodgers catcher Mike Piazza.

Baez, who turns 25 next month, signed for $200,000 out of the Dominican Republic and was considered the organization's best third-base prospect. But with a .247 average in six Minor League seasons, Baez was given the Kenley Jansen treatment and sent to the mound, as Jansen was after failing to hit as a catcher.

Baez showed Koufax a natural delivery, a fastball in the mid-90s and a curveball more advanced than many of his fellow Minor Leaguers who have been at this pitching thing for years. Koufax told other staff members he'd like to see Baez in a Major League exhibition game this spring.

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