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Jurrjens impressive in spring debut with Braves

POSTED: March 11, 2008 5:00 a.m.
The Associated Press/

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Jair Jurrjens throws in the second inning of a spring training game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

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KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Hiroki Kuroda made his Los Angeles Dodgers debut, minus the Elvis Presley costume.

Jair Jurrjens took the mound for the Atlanta Braves, hoping to show his favorite team that he’s worth star shortstop Edgar Renteria.

Kuroda, another Japanese star jumping over to the big leagues, pitched two scoreless innings for the Dodgers in a 10-3 spring training loss to the Braves on Friday.

The Braves have their own international contender for a spot in the rotation. Jurrjens, a native of Curacao, was acquired in the offseason along with another prospect for Renteria, a five-time All-Star who finished fourth in the National League in hitting last season.

Jurrjens gave up one hard-hit ball in two innings of work, a ground-rule double by Andy LaRoche that put the Dodgers ahead 1-0 in the first.

But the only other hit off Jurrjens was an infield single. The 22-year-old right-hander had one walk and a strikeout.

"I was excited to be out there in my first game for the Braves," said Jurrjens, whose father back in Curacao has been a Braves fan since the team was in Milwaukee. "I was trying to impress them from the get-go."

Javy Lopez, trying to win a spot as Atlanta’s backup catcher after sitting out last season, had a big day at the plate though he did have some problems defensively with two errant throws. He hit a two-run homer off Esteban Loaiza in the third, then batted twice in a seven-run fifth that broke the game open.

Lopez led off with a walk and came around to score, then drove in the final run of the inning with a sacrifice fly. The Braves sent 12 players to the plate against three Los Angeles pitchers. Greg Miller didn’t retire anyone, Matt Riley allowed two runs in two-thirds of an inning and Greg Jones came on to get the final out.

Buddy Carlyle picked up the win for Atlanta with two perfect innings.

The 33-year-old Kuroda is hardly just another rookie after signing a three-year, $35.3 million contract with Los Angeles. But he just wants to be treated like one of the guys, which he demonstrated by taking part in "Dodger Idol" the previous day.

A mock contest for players attending their first big league camp, most of the contestants were in their early 20s. But Kuroda, who had 103 wins in Japan and was an All-Star each of the past three years, jumped right in with his new teammates.

He donned an Elvis costume, complete with fake chest hair and sideburns, to whip off a rendition of "Love Me Tender."

"I just did what all rookies do," Kuroda said through a translator. "My teammates have taken me in great. I’m just trying to be part of the team. I just want to be one of the guys."

Loaiza, claimed off waivers from Oakland late last season and set to make $6.5 million this year, allowed four hits and three runs in two innings. The one-time 20-game winner is trying to earn a spot in the Dodgers’ rotation.



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