Dodgers 2, Texas Rangers 1: Zach Lee and Tom Windle offer a glimpse of the future.

Zach Lee

Zach Lee didn’t allow a run against the Texas Rangers in his Cactus League debut Friday. (Associated Press photo)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Zach Lee came into camp hoping to make the Dodgers’ 25-man roster. Seriously.

The 22-year-old pitcher only reached Double-A last year, three years after the Dodgers selected him with the 28th overall pick in the 2010 amateur draft. Only a strained right latissimus dorsi muscle suffered early in camp forced Lee to temper his expectations.

By waiting until Friday to make his Cactus League debut, Lee knows he’s ticketed to the minors to start the season.

“Anytime you set a goal you want to set it high,” he said. “If you set it too low, you’ll probably meet it and get content with it.”

Lee pitched two scoreless innings in the Dodgers’ 2-1 victory over the Texas Rangers on Friday at Camelback Ranch. He allowed only two hits, walked none and had something to be proud of at the end of his long-awaited debut.

The right-hander from McKinney, Texas survived a loud leadoff double to Shin-Soo Choo — “a 2-1 fastball right down the middle that you don’t want to throw,” he said — to survive a 21-pitch first inning on consecutive ground-ball outs by Elvin Andrus, Mitch Moreland and Adrian Beltre.

After a smooth second inning in which he allowed a single to Jurickson Profar, Lee’s day was over. He faced eight hitters, almost all major leaguers, and did not look out of place on the mound.

“He just looks like he belongs around the clubhouse, around the fields. He does everything well,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “He’s got a clean delivery. We feel like he’s going to be able to throw the ball where he wants. Just like in his composure — pretty much everything about him.”

Lee has a preternatural calm in the presence of almost anyone — reporter, major leaguer, minor leaguer. He said he’s tried to stay in the background like most rookies, while also trying to pick the veterans’ brains.

“I’ve talked a lot with (Josh) Beckett and (Zack) Greinke,” he said. “Probably Greinke a little more than Beckett from a baseball standpoint just because me and his game are kind of similar as far as our repertoire goes, how we pitch. It’s always good to get an outside perspective, especially with a guy who’s had the success he’s had and kind of the similar stuff we have and how we approach the game.”

Both pitchers share an analytical approach to baseball, something that impressed Dodgers management about Lee since his first days in the organization. Lee’s numbers in his second season at Double-A Chattanooga were better in almost every category in 2013, when he was named the organization’s pitcher of the year.

Lee took part in the Dodgers’ prospect camp at Dodger Stadium in January. Finally on Friday, he had a chance to show everyone what he’s gained since last season.

“Growing up, the way I looked at pitching, I was more of a cerebral, analytical person,” he said. “I really thought more kind of gameplanning and what (Greg) Maddux did back in the day, where he was able to pinpoint location rather than overpowering people. I kind of took after them and that’s where my game’s developed.”

Young power pitchers are often the first to reach the majors. The St. Louis Cardinals’ Shelby Miller, a 2012 draft pick who beat the Dodgers twice in last year’s National League Championship Series, is a protypical example.

Pitchers like Lee, who mix and match an assortment of pitches and rely more on location and guile, often take longer. This season marks his fourth in the organization and only his first major-league camp.

Lee said he threw all his pitches Friday and “some worked better than others.” For Mattingly, the first impression was a good one.

“I think that’s what you like about him: You see him around the clubhouse, the way he handles himself, gets after his work, does everything pretty well, takes fielding his position seriously, holding runners — all the things you don’t get a lot of attention for — but we like everything about him.”

Some more notes and observations:
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Zach Lee, Dodgers square off against Texas Rangers.

The Dodgers have a chance to achieve a rare feat by hitting a grand slam in their third straight game today when the Texas Rangers visit Camelback Ranch.

Alex Guerrero hit one against the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday night. Scott Van Slyke hit a grand slam in Thursday’s 4-4 tie against the Angels.

Starter Zach Lee will be limited to about 30 pitches, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. Hopefully that gets him through at least one inning. If not, at least the Dodgers have plenty of reinforcements lined up in the bullpen.

Brian Wilson, Kenley Jansen, J.P. Howell, Chris Perez and Brandon League are all scheduled to throw. Tom Windle, the Dodgers’ second-round pick in the 2013 draft, is also in uniform along with fellow minor-league call-up Fu-Te Ni.

Windle (like 2013 first-round pick Chris Anderson yesterday) will be facing live opponents for the first time. The Dodgers minor-leaguers had an exhibition game against France. Otherwise, they have only seen live batters in batting practice and intrasquad contests.

Before the game, Mattingly said that Zack Greinke is scheduled to face live hitters tomorrow, likely on a minor-league field.

Chone Figgins will play right field, his seventh position of the Cactus League season.

We’ll be keeping an eye out for highly touted Rangers prospect Rougned Odor. He’s in uniform for the game (#73).

Here are the lineups for both teams:
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Dodgers 4, Angels 4: A Scott Van Slyke grand slam, instant replay, perfect relay all go for naught.

Scott Van Slyke

Scott Van Slyke hit a grand slam in the Dodgers’ 4-1 victory over the Angels. (Associated Press photo)

TEMPE, Ariz. — Scott Van Slyke’s grand slam in the sixth inning and an exciting play at home plate in the first highlighted the Dodgers’ 4-4 tie with the Angels before 6,457 at Tempe Diablo Stadium. The 10-inning game is the second tie this week for the Dodgers (3-4-2).

The umpiring crew used instant replay to determine that Mike Trout was indeed thrown out at home plate attempting to complete an inside-the-park home run. Angels manager Mike Scioscia had a lengthy discussion with the umpires on the field before initiating the challenge. A 72-second review confirmed the call.

With one out in the first, Trout hit a long, sinking line drive just left of center field. Yasiel Puig dove at the last second but missed. The ball rolled past Puig and all the way to the warning track, where Puig got to the ball ahead of left fielder Scott Van Slyke. His relay throw to shortstop Hanley Ramirez on the short outfield grass was perfect, and Ramirez made an accurate throw to Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis just in time to retire the speedy Trout.

The only question seemed to be whether Ellis got his glove on Trout or not, but that wasn’t the only question circulating through the Dodgers’ dugout.
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Baseball’s new instant replay system in play for Dodgers, Angels in Tempe.

TEMPE, Ariz. — The Dodgers and the Angels will have instant replay at their disposal for their first head-to-head Cactus League game of 2014. Managers Don Mattingly and Mike Scioscia are able to challenge one umpire’s call during the first six innings. In innings 7, 8 and 9 the umpires can initiate a challenge.

The camera angles at Tempe Diablo Stadium aren’t what they will be during the Freeway Series, when replay will be in use for the first time. But Prime Ticket is televising the game, so at least the teams won’t be at the mercy of an in-house video feed.

It’s the first replay game for the Dodgers and the fourth for the Angels. Scioscia has already thrown one challenge and lost; I asked him this morning if he’ll challenge for the sake of challenging — practice for the manager, practice for the umpire, practice for Nick Francona.

“You have to practice the logistics that’s for sure, but I don’t want to make a mockery of it,” he said. “If there’s a play that makes sense — I know the umpires are looking forward to the challenge, just so they can get their end of it worked out too.”

Here are the lineups for both teams:
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Dodgers 10, Cincinnati Reds 3: Alex Guerrero homers, Yasiel Puig leaves, Hyun-Jin Ryu goes 4. Update.

Alex Guerrero

Dodgers second baseman Alex Guerrero hit a grand slam, his first extra-base hit of spring training, on Wednesday.

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Alex Guerrero’s fifth-inning grand slam gave the Dodgers the lead for good in their 10-3 win Wednesday night over the Cincinnati Reds.

Guerrero, who was 4 for 15 with four singles to begin his first major-league spring training, hit the first pitch he saw from Jeff Francis high over the left-field fence to give the Dodgers their first runs of the game.

Adrian Gonzalez also homered as the Dodgers improved to 3-4-1.

Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched four innings and allowed single runs in the first and second innings, both earned. He allowed four hits, all singles, walked two and struck out three. The left-hander said after the game that he did not throw a slider until the third inning — then used it effectively. He struck out the side in the third, including Reds slugger Joey Votto on a slider.

Ryu was originally scheduled to pitch three innings, but Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt gave him the option of pitching the fourth and coming out after 10 pitches. He got three outs — a walk, a double-play ground ball, and another groundout — before reaching his 10-pitch limit.

Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig left the game after four innings after experiencing symptoms of inflammation in his upper left back/shoulder area. He was seen grimacing at home plate during his second at-bat of the game, in the top of the fourth inning, against Francis. Puig played the bottom of the fourth inning without making a play in the field, did not bat in the top of the fifth inning, and was replaced by Mike Baxter in the bottom of the fifth. He was the first Dodgers position player to leave the game.

Puig told reporters after the game that he would be able to play tomorrow.

9:25 p.m. update: Here’s what Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said about Puig after the game:

Puig said this via the club’s official Twitter feed:

Reds starter Homer Bailey no-hit the Dodgers through three innings. Francis pitched a 1-2-3 fourth inning before allowing singles to Gonzalez and Juan Uribe — a blooper that fell between three fielders in right-center — and walking Joc Pederson. Guerrero then cleared the bases with his home run.

Tim Federowicz padded the Dodgers’ lead with a two-run double in the sixth inning and scored on an RBI single by Miguel Rojas. Minor-league call-up Aaron Bates hit an RBI double in the seventh inning. Uribe’s sacrifice fly allowed Baxter to tag up and score the Dodgers’ final run.

Jose Dominguez and Paco Rodriguez pitched scoreless relief innings. Matt Magill pitched a scoreless seventh inning and allowed a solo home run to Neftali Soto in the eighth.

The box score is here. Some more notes and observations:
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Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds reveal lineups for rare night game.

The Dodgers will play their first Cactus League night game — one of three on the schedule — at 6 p.m. Pacific Time against the Cincinnati Reds at Goodyear Stadium. Hyun-Jin Ryu will make his second spring start against right-hander Homer Bailey.

As manager Don Mattingly indicated yesterday, Dee Gordon is in center field for the first time all spring. Carl Crawford is the designated hitter one day after playing left field for the first time since he strained his right quadriceps muscle on Feb. 26. Alex Guerrero is back at second base, and Matt Magill, Paco Rodriguez, Javy Guerra and Jose Dominguez are scheduled to pitch in relief.

Here are the starting lineups for both teams:
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Ross Stripling will have Tommy John surgery tomorrow.

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Dodgers manager Don Mattingly confirmed that pitcher Ross Stripling will have Tommy John surgery tomorrow morning in Los Angeles to replace a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. The surgery will be performed by team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

The 24-year-old right hander initially injured his elbow pitching live batting practice Feb. 21. Stripling said he first felt pain while throwing a cut fastball to Joc Pederson, but did not report the injury at the time and even pitched a second inning of live BP.

On Feb. 26, Stripling pitched two innings in the Dodgers’ first Cactus League game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Stripling’s fastball registered in the low-90 mph range, and he did not appear to be throwing abnormally.

However, Mattingly was told that Stripling tore his ligament Feb. 21 throwing batting practice.

“That sucks,” Mattingly said. “The kid was on a good roll. It just changes the timetable more than anything else.”

Stripling is listed as the number-10 prospect in the organization on the Dodgers’ website. He was attending his first major-league spring training on a minor league contract. Stripling went 6-4 with a 2.78 earned-run average in 21 games (16 starts) at Double-A Chatanooga. He posted a 2.94 ERA in six starts with Single-A Rancho Cucamonga before earning a midseason promotion.

More details in tomorrow’s editions.

Daily Distractions: Dodgers won’t say when Matt Kemp will play in a game.


GLENDALE, Ariz. — Somewhere, the AlterG treadmill that served as Matt Kemp‘s exercise lifeline for weeks is collecting dust. Kemp is out in the open, where he should be, taking batting practice and running on a baseball field.

Tuesday, he was cleared to run a curved path with Dodgers first-base coach Davey Lopes watching. Since he was first cleared to run on Saturday, he had only been running straight lines.

His swing (above) looks normal. His body, chiseled from an off-season spent doing upper body work in the gym, looks better than normal. The only question is, when will Kemp be able to start playing games?

“Part of the plan is not to have a timetable,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Tuesday, “as far as throwing a date out there, so you guys can say ‘April 1,’ then we get to April 1 and he’s not quite ready so now he’s off schedule. If something happened he had ‘a setback.’

“The more he does, the more he steps forward, continues to do more without having setbacks, the more he continues to do and that tells us where we’re at.”

Kemp has said repeatedly that he won’t rush himself back. Playing in the Dodgers’ season-opening series against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Sydney, Australia is out. The first game on North American soil, March 30 against the Padres in San Diego, hasn’t been ruled out.

That’s the good news. It’s also all the news.

“Stan (Conte, the Dodgers’ head athletic trainer) has characterized it as kind of like the fifth stage of a seven-stage rehab,” Mattingly said. “So (Kemp) is getting there. We’re confident that he’s going in the right direction. I don’t think anyone wants to put pressure on Matt to say ‘this is the date’ because then it’s an artificial timetable. Then if he’s not ready he starts to feel like he’s behind schedule.”

Some bullet points for a Holy Experiment Day:
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Dodgers cut 10 players from spring training roster.

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Dodgers announced their first round of cuts from their major-league camp roster Tuesday.

Pitcher Pedro Baez, outfielder Nick Buss, pitcher Stephen Fife, pitcher Yimi Garcia and pitcher Jarret Martin were optioned to the Dodgers’ minor league camp. Pitchers Sam Demel, Chris Reed and Daniel Moskos, and catchers Griff Erickson and Chris O’Brien were optioned to the minor-league camp.

“Some of our decisions are just based on the length of this camp, and us having to try to get down to a working number, and to prioritize the number of innings and at-bats we have left,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “That’s the biggest reason. It seems early, but for us it’s getting there, toward the 22nd.”

The Dodgers have 46 players on their camp roster, plus Scott Elbert (on the 60-day disabled list) and Erisbel Arruebarrena (who is in the Dominican Republic awaiting a work visa).

Dodgers 5, Chicago White Sox 0.

Hyun-Jin Ryu

Hyun-Jin Ryu threw two scoreless innings in his first Cactus League start Friday. (Associated Press photo)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — A 0-0 pitchers’ duel through six innings turned in the Dodgers’ favor on a two-run home run in the seventh inning by Joc Pederson. Pederson ripped into a 2-2 pitch from Jake Petricka, showing some impressive opposite-field power in lifting the ball high over the left-field fence.

The Dodgers tacked on three more runs in the eighth inning. Dee Gordon walked and stole second base, then scored on an RBI double by Mike Baxter. Clint Robinson followed with a two-run home run that provided the final score.

Hyun-Jin Ryu, making his first Cactus League start of 2014, did not allow a run in two innings. Brian Wilson, Kenley Jansen, Chris Perez, J.P. Howell, Jamey Wright and Matt Magill finished the game with seven shutout innings. The White Sox were limited to three hits and three walks.

The box score is here. Some more notes:
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