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Weaver is back yet again, and could easily be staying

February 28, 2010 |  7:45 am
Weaver Jeff Weaver is not only back in the Dodgers’ spring training camp, there is an excellent chance he will be back with the team when it returns to Los Angeles.

Professionally, it’s been a tumultuous past few years for Weaver. If not for his entire nine-year career.

But now he sits at his locker at Camelback Ranch as a non-roster invitee, without guarantee of a major league job, and seemingly at peace.

Weaver said he is done with the Triple-A uniform, which is the only one he wore in 2008. At age 33, and as of Wednesday a new father, he appears ready to seize his current opportunity or live with the results if he does not.

"That’s why I came back," Weaver said. "It was more of a situation where I really don’t want to do the Triple-A thing again. I’ll be content with whatever happens with me now."

He came to the Dodgers' spring training camp last year too, but when camp broke was headed to Triple-A Albuquerque. Called up on April 30, he stuck for the rest of the season.
He proved a valuable swing man for the Dodgers, finishing the season 6-4 with a 3.65 ERA in 28 games. In seven starts, he went 2-1 with a 3.13 ERA.

It’s his proven ability to both relieve and start that makes him a strong candidate to again make the Dodgers this season. Even though they were unwilling to sign him except as a non-roster invitee.

Weaver said he did have opportunities to sign a major league contract, but the Manhattan Beach resident and Northridge native wanted to remain in Los Angeles.

"There was a couple, but not a situation I wanted to encounter," he said. "Especially with the baby coming. I’m just really comfortable with the chance to be at home in a stable situation."

Unlike last season, Weaver received an opt-out clause with this year’s contract. If the Dodgers did choose to send him back down, it’s his option whether to go, become a free agent or retire.

"There was other things, but this situation is just better for me here," he said. "That’s just the way it is in this day. I mean, I’m not the only one. (Guillermo) Mota had a pretty solid year last year (3-3, 3.44 ERA) and has to do the same thing (with San Francisco).

"I think it’s just kind of the way teams are building their rosters going into spring, and then seeing what happens."

Manager Joe Torre said he expects the Dodgers to start the season with 11 or 12 pitchers. Most, however, are either strictly relievers or starters.

"We know what he did last year. He was very valuable," Torre said. "He really helped the young bullpen do the job they did. He's highly thought of, and not just an add-on as far as I’m concerned."

If right-hander James McDonald fails to capture the fifth spot in the rotation, he is likely to still make the team. He could be the one swing pitcher who threatens to knock Weaver off the roster.

-- Steve Dilbeck, in Phoenix

Photo: Jeff Weaver throws to second base during a team drill on Feb. 22. Mark Duncan / Associated Press

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