Updates on Zack Greinke, Matt Kemp, and lineups for the Dodgers’ two real games today.


GLENDALE, Ariz. — With Dodgers chairman Mark Walter, president Stan Kasten, chief marketing officer Lon Rosen, manager Don Mattingly, pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, and other coaches and team officials in attendance, a simulated game took place on a back field at Camelback Ranch this morning.

Unlike the two other games featuring uniformed Dodgers players today, this one didn’t count for anything. It did, however, feature Zack Greinke pitching to Matt Kemp. Kemp is in the late stages of his ankle rehabilitation — stage 6 of 7, specifically — and Greinke was facing live hitters for the first time since straining his right calf Feb. 27.

Greinke said he threw 35 pitches in the simulated game, about half to Kemp and the other half to Scott Schebler. He threw another 50 in the bullpen.

“I’m feeling healthy,” Greinke said. “I wanted to see some hitters, try to throw several different pitches. They all kind of came out pretty good. Not midseason form or anything but pretty good.”

Despite repeated prodding, Greinke wouldn’t say when or where his next outing will come. Based on his own assessment, another simulated game or a minor-league game might be in order, since Greinke’s health and repertoire are still works in progress.

Greinke got Kemp to swing and miss at a big curveball, “but he was hitting the fastball good.” The final pitch of both of Kemp’s at-bats Greinke are above.

In a couple days, Greinke thinks his calf will be healed; for now fielding ground balls off the mound remains an issue.

“I can field,” he said. “If Dee Gordon hit a ground ball to first, I wouldn’t be able to beat him to first. Right now I wouldn’t be able to get there in time. But if A.J. Ellis did I still might not, but I’d probably be able to get there in time.”

As for Kemp, he ran the bases under the watch of Dodgers head athletic trainer Stan Conte. Later, he practiced tracking fly balls in center field at less than full speed.

Paul Maholm is starting the Dodgers’ noon (PST) game against the Texas Rangers at Surprise Stadium, and Josh Beckett is starting the 6 p.m. home game against the Seattle Mariners. The latter will be televised on MLB Network for all you non-Time Warner subscribers.

Mattingly clarified one thing about Yasiel Puig‘s excused absence today: The Dodgers have known that Puig would be gone today, and returning Sunday, since the beginning of camp. Whatever his “personal issue” is — Mattingly wouldn’t say — it is not a last-minute emergency. It’s believed that Puig is not in the Phoenix area.

The Dodgers’ next two games at Camelback Ranch — tonight and tomorrow — are sold out.

Here are the lineups for both teams, both games:

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Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig to be held out of workouts after fouling a ball off his leg.


Yasiel Puig will be held out of workouts Thursday at Camelback Ranch after the Dodgers’ outfielder fouled ball off his right leg Wednesday, manager Don Mattingly said.

“He seemed to be pretty good yesterday,” Mattingly said. “He had a little bit of swelling.”

The ball caromed off Puig’s right leg in the “upper leg, knee area,” Mattingly said.

Puig faced closer Kenley Jansen in batting practice yesterday (above).

Three more injury updates from Thursday morning:

Zach Lee said he’ll throw 10 to 15 pitches off a mound at “60 to 70 percent” intensity. Lee has been bothered by a strained lat muscle since the beginning of camp. The 22-year-old right-hander said he sustained the injury on the final day of the Dodgers’ prospect camp doing wide-armed pull-ups.

• Pitcher Brandon League, who’s also dealing with a lat strain, “came out pretty good with the mound work” yesterday, Mattingly said. “He’ll probably have a day and be out there again.”

Paul Maholm is the only healthy Dodgers starter who hasn’t thrown a live batting practice session yet. The Dodgers are proceeding with caution after Maholm reported tenderness in his left elbow. Maholm missed a start last September because of elbow soreness and was left off the Atlanta Braves’ postseason roster.

Daily Distractions: Putting Josh Beckett’s optimism in its proper context.

Josh Beckett

Josh Beckett had a rib removed from the right side of his rib cage in July. (Associated Press)

In his first interview of the spring, Dodgers pitcher Josh Beckett declared himself healthy and ready to pitch when the 2014 season begins.

Beckett’s optimism is nothing new. He was so upbeat about his recovery from thoracic outlet surgery last August that one reporter was compelled to ask if Beckett intended to pitch at some point in the postseason.

But Beckett’s optimism is like the cushioned cork at the center of a baseball. It’s surrounded by layers of yarn and cowhide and leather stitching that need to be unwound. By itself, Beckett’s healthy optimism and optimal health are great developments, but they need to put in context.

For one thing, Beckett is 33 years old. His record the past two seasons is 7-19. His early-career track record is stellar: a World Series MVP award at age 23; 80 wins and a 116 ERA+ in the span of his 25-to-29-year-old prime; an all-star appearance with Boston as recently as three years ago. But then you point to Beckett’s age, and his last two seasons, and you wonder what he’s doing in the starting rotation of a team with a $240 million-plus payroll.

Then there’s the nature of thoracic outlet surgery. It hasn’t been in baseball as long as Tommy John surgery, for example. Chris Carpenter had the procedure recently — Beckett told reporters yesterday that Carpenter’s thoracic outlet syndrome was worse than his own — as did Daniel Bard, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Shaun Marcum. That’s a short list. It doesn’t offer nearly large enough a sample size to conclude, with the same degree of certainty, how long Beckett will need to make a full recovery.

So we have Beckett’s word, his medical reports (you and I don’t, but the Dodgers do), and his track record, and not much else. Then we have a locker in the Camelback Ranch clubhouse with Paul Maholm‘s nameplate overhead, and should it really come as a surprise that the Dodgers took out a $1.5 million insurance policy in the form of a sixth starter?

Not really. And that’s not a reflection on Beckett or his health, so much as the Dodgers’ financial wherewithal. As the Dodgers learn what Beckett can do post-surgery, there’s less at stake in the final outcome of the process. Management can sit back, watch, and be happy for Beckett if he makes a full recovery. And hey, maybe you get a fifth starter at the end of camp.

How’s that for some annual start-of-spring-training optimism?

Some bullet points for a Tuesday morning:
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Daily Distractions: How a quirky, schedule-induced disabled list rule could affect the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster.

Dan Haren

New Dodgers pitcher Dan Haren might need to be wary of his SCL as Opening Day approaches. (Associated Press)

How can a player go on the 15-day disabled list and miss only five regular-season games?

If he plays for the Dodgers or Arizona Diamondbacks, of course.

Thanks to a quirky schedule that has the Dodgers and Diamondbacks starting their season in Sydney, Australia on March 22 — a week before any other club — both teams will be allowed to place players on the disabled list retroactive to March 19. For every other team, the earliest a retroactive DL stint can begin is March 21.

What does that mean?

For Matt Kemp, who has pledged not to rush back from an off-season ankle surgery that’s still healing, it means he can start the season on the disabled list and be eligible to play in the Dodgers’ home opener April 4. The Dodgers play five regular-season games before April 4: The two games in Sydney, and a three-game series in San Diego.

That’s good news for fans. The best news for the Dodgers might concern their starting rotation.

In theory, only three starting pitchers are needed for the Dodgers’ first five games of the season. The two pitchers who start in Sydney (say, Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke) would have more than one week’s rest before the first two games of the San Diego series, March 30 and April 1. The third starter could pitch April 2 against the Padres. Then the rotation can reset on regular rest — if manager Don Mattingly chooses — with Kershaw and Greinke starting the first two games of the opening homestand April 4 and 5.

If every pitcher stays on regular rest, the Dodgers won’t need a fourth starter until April 6 at the earliest. By then, the 15-day DL window will have expired. Let’s say the fourth starter is Dan Haren. Maybe Haren comes down with a nasty hangnail, a twinge in his pitching triceps, a strained SCL (something collateral ligament). He can start the season on the 15-day disabled list and the Dodgers can give that roster spot to an extra bench player or an extra reliever — maybe a swingman like Paul Maholm who could start in case of an unexpected injury (brawl?) involving one of the top three starters. Haren can come off the 15-day and start on schedule April 6.

It’s something to keep in mind when the Dodgers decide who’s playing in Sydney. More than a typical year, the disabled list could go a long way toward determining the Opening Day roster.

Some bullet points for an Inventors’ Day:
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