Charged with telling his second baseman that he had earned a spot on the Dodgers' big league roster, Torre instead let DeWitt believe for a bit that he was destined for the Triple-A squad in Albuquerque.
When DeWitt met Torre and GM Ned Colletti in Torre's office at Dodger Stadium before Thursday night's exhibition game against the Cleveland Indians, "They told me they were going to send me to Albuquerque" again, DeWitt said.
"You're definitely not happy," he said. "Then all of a sudden they were like, ‘You know what's the date today?' " DeWitt replied he didn't know. "They said, ‘It's April 1.' Then Joe said, ‘April Fools'.'
"They played it off real good," said a smiling and much-relieved DeWitt. "I was not expecting that at all."
Colletti said that DeWitt "had the right look on his face" after being told of his "demotion" and that it "meant more to him to have it happen that way than to just say he was on the team."
I have no idea what positives Colletti thinks can be derived from those observations — there is no metric for handling temporary fake disappointment — but the Dodgers should somehow figure out a way to keep DeWitt believing that a ticket to New Mexico is just another meeting in Torre's office away.
After playing 117 games with the Dodgers in 2008, the 24-year-old spent most of 2009 in the minor leagues for further seasoning. DeWitt then worked his way past Ronnie Belliard(notes) and Jamey Carroll(notes) this spring with 19 starts and a .339/.439/.536 slash line.
Those are lofty numbers to live up to over the course of a 162-game season, but if DeWitt even comes close, he'll be earning the right to play jokes on other Dodgers next spring.
Instead of, you know, the other way around.
- Joe Torre
- the Dodgers