Hus hot in return from eye injury

The Dodgers gave Chin-lung Hu what ended up amounting to a one-month trial to beHuLV.jpg their starting shortstop after Rafael Furcal went down on May 5 with a back injury that ended up requiring surgery.

Hu played Major League defense but was a liability at the plate, hitting 10-for-76 (.132) with one double, two triples, four RBIs and eight runs scored as Los Angeles’ starting shortstop, at one point going 22 straight at-bats without a hit.

The Dodgers optioned Hu to Triple-A Las Vegas on June 9 to call up third baseman Andy LaRoche. After playing in three games, Hu missed over a month with an eye ailment.

Now Hu is back with the 51s, and he’s hit .389 (7-for-18) with four runs scored and a RBI in five games since his return entering July 25.

Before Hu left, Dodgers manager Joe Torre said the organization still thinks highly of him, but it’s doubtful Los Angeles would be comfortable handing Hu the starting shortstop job next season if the free agent Furcal does not re-sign based on his lack of offensive production in the Majors this season.

Hu earned MVP honors of the Futures Game last year and hit .325 with 14 homers, 40 doubles, six triples, 62 RBIs, 89 runs scored and 15 steals to earn the organization’s Minor League Player of the Year honors last season while splitting time between Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A.

Before the season, Baseball America ranked Hu as the Dodgers’ No. 3 prospect behind lefty Clayton Kershaw and LaRoche and the No. 55 prospect overall.

In other Minors news around the Dodgers organization, Triple-A infielder Ramon Martinez and Double-A infielder Mark Bellhorn, both former big leaguers, have been released.

Martinez, 35, played parts of 10 seasons in the Majors, including the past two with the Dodgers, and owned a .265 career batting average to go with 29 homers and 235 RBIs. He hit .287 with two homers and 13 RBIs in 28 games for the 51s.

Bellhorn, 33, also played parts of 10 seasons in the big leagues, compiling a .230 career batting average to go with 69 homers and 246 RBIs. He hit just .190 in 2006 for the Padres and .071 in 13 games for the Reds last year but is best known for his 17-homer, 82-RBI season for the Red Sox during their 2004 championship season.

The infielder batted just .242 with seven homers and 29 RBIs in 59 games at Double-A this year.

Vegas has been busy, activating pitcher Eric Stults and infielder Luis Maza, both of whom were sent down by the Dodgers in the last week. The 51s also activated infielder Rex Rundgren from the disabled list and placed pitcher Greg Miller (lower back tightness) and outfielder John-Ford Griffin (groin strain) on the DL.

Before the injury, Griffin had batted .457 (21-for-46) with five homers and 18 RBIs during a 14-game hitting streak that raised his batting average to .310 from .286.

— Michael Schwartz

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