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AP source: Dodgers close to getting Blake, Loretta

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[December 10, 2008]  LAS VEGAS (AP) -- The Los Angeles Dodgers reached agreements with free-agent infielders Casey Blake and Mark Loretta on Tuesday and awaited physicals to complete the deals.

HardwareBlake got a three-year contract to stay put in Los Angeles and Loretta received a one-year deal, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the Dodgers had yet to make a formal announcement.

The additions will fill two of general manager Ned Colletti's top offseason priorities as he waits to hear whether Manny Ramirez will accept an offer from Los Angeles and to determine how seriously CC Sabathia might be interested in joining the Dodgers.

Settling the infield with two veterans will only help a young Los Angeles roster. Blake, acquired from Cleveland on July 16, plays third base and Loretta is a solid backup.

"Obviously they're great players," manager Joe Torre said at the winter meetings. "We had Casey last year. In Loretta's case, I'm used to him beating my brains in with the Red Sox. Every time you thought you'd get him out, he'd get a base hit to right field."


The 35-year-old Blake, a 10-year big leaguer, batted .251 with 10 home runs and 23 RBIs in 58 games for Los Angeles. Torre considers him a key reason the Dodgers made a strong run late to win the NL West and reached the second round of the playoffs.

The 37-year-old Loretta spent the past two seasons with the Houston Astros after playing for the Red Sox in 2006. He batted .280 with four homers and 38 RBIs in 101 games in 2008, his 14th major league season.

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Torre said he's been a fan of Loretta for years.

"I like the type of player he is," Torre said. "He looked like a guy who handled the heat of the game really well."

Even with Loretta, the Dodgers will likely make a push to bring back shortstop Rafael Furcal, who is seeking a four-year deal.

The 31-year-old Furcal was sidelined for all but 36 games last season with Los Angeles because of back problems that required surgery. He was activated from the 60-day disabled list during the final week after being sidelined since May 6.

Furcal batted .357 with five home runs and 16 RBIs. He turned down such an offer from the Oakland Athletics on Friday.

[Associated Press; By JANIE McCAULEY]

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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