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DODGERS NOTEBOOK: COLLETTI SORTS OUT ROSTER.

Byline: TONY JACKSON Staff Writer

PITTSBURGH - New Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti attended his revamped club's first week worth of games before returning to Los Angeles from Philadelphia on Sunday evening. On Tuesday, Colletti offered a succinct summation of what he had witnessed.

"I see some good things, and I see a couple of areas that I still think need to get sorted out," he said. "But I think the people are there to sort them out."

Colletti is talking to other clubs about possible trades, but that is nothing out of the ordinary, and it doesn't appear that any deal is imminent. While he wouldn't say it, it is clear two areas he would like to shore up are left field and the starting rotation.

Jose Cruz Jr., who was a late scratch from Tuesday night's game with Pittsburgh with a head cold, is hitting .300, but that is due mainly to a sizzling start in which he went 7 for 13 in the Dodgers' season-opening series against Atlanta. After that, Cruz immediately went into an 0-for-16 slide from which he didn't emerge until scratching out two hits late in Monday's game.

Cruz is in some danger of losing his spot to current center fielder Jason Repko, who is hitting .370 but otherwise will be pushed out of the lineup when Kenny Lofton returns from the disabled list, probably on Friday.

The starters combined to win four of their first five decisions, but posted a 5.34 ERA in the process. And while each of the four pitchers who had started a game for the Dodgers before Tuesday had been at least adequate at least once, there still isn't a bonafide No. 1 starter.

"I am always going to try to improve this club," Colletti said. "That piece of it will always be consistent."

"I like how we have played, and the way we have battled every game. We have been in every game, and I think that bodes well. I liked the way we came back in those two (losses) against Atlanta, and I liked how we played in all three games in Philadelphia."

--Roster crunch: Lofton (strained left calf) remains on track for a Friday return, at which point outfielder Cody Ross, who is out of minor-league options, probably will be designated for assignment. Ross played well enough in spring training and in his first three games of the season - he is 2 for 6, including an RBI triple in Monday's win over the Pirates - that he likely will be claimed off waivers by another club.

"It's a gamble," manager Grady Little said. "It would be a shame with what we have seen so far, but that's life."
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 12, 2006
Words:451
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