Suddenly, the Dodgers are out of long relievers.

Matt Guerrier

Matt Guerrier allowed two home runs in relief of Matt Magill on Saturday night, further depleting a short-handed Dodgers bullpen. (Associated Press photo)

For all the money the Dodgers have spent building their 2013 roster — about $230 million when the regular season began — they didn’t have a single pitcher available if last night’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers had gone to the 12th inning.

That’s not exactly unusual. If taxed enough, any bullpen will run out of arms. The Dodgers didn’t even get to the 10th inning yesterday, but manager Don Mattingly had to line up his possibilities when the Dodgers had runners on second and third base with two outs in the ninth inning.

“I’ve got to bring Josh (Wall) back out” for the 10th inning, Mattingly said. “I’ve got one (inning) with Kenley (Jansen). Then it’s Schu.”

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Chad Billingsley to have Tommy John surgery tomorrow.

Chad BillingsleyChad Billingsley will undergo Tommy John surgery tomorrow, leaving the Dodgers without their fifth starter for the remainder of this season and likely part of 2014.

Team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache will perform the surgery at the Kerlan Jobe Orthopedic Clinic in Los Angeles.

Billingsley elected to undergo PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injections and rehabilitation after partially tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow last August. He pitched without pain throughout the winter and into spring training until he developed elbow pain during a bullpen session four days ago. An MRI confirmed an injury to the ligament.
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Dodgers will start Stephen Fife in place of Zack Greinke against Mexico.

The Dodgers scratched Zack Greinke from his scheduled start against Team Mexico on Wednesday with a cold. Stephen Fife, who was originally scheduled to throw in relief in Goodyear against the Cleveland Indians, will instead start the exhibition game at Camelback Ranch in Glendale.

Manager Don Mattingly said in his pregame discussion that he was hoping Greinke’s illness was only a cold, but a flu has been going around the room. Pitcher Ted Lilly just returned after missing two days with a flu. Pitcher Paco Rodriguez caught it and didn’t report today. Zack Greinke reported but was apparently deemed not healthy enough to start.

 

Chicago White Sox 9, Dodgers 0: Postgame thoughts.

The Dodgers’ first game of spring training served a valuable purpose for everyone who watched it unfold on a cold day at Camelback Ranch: It reminded us that in spring training, the whole is always less than the sum of its parts.

We hope you took the under on Dodgers runs scored; more than that, we hope you don’t bet on Cactus League games. The Dodgers had their chances to score, and their bats picked up after Juan Uribe ruined Chicago’s chance at a perfect game with a single in the third inning. That sentence may never be written again.

Here are a few takeaways:

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Dodgers spring training preview: Starting pitchers.

Hyun-Jin RyuForget having the best 1-2 starting combination in baseball. Ned Colletti clearly intended to put together the majors’ best 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 staff this winter.

Mission accomplished.

When the Dodgers pitchers and catchers report to camp Tuesday, they present a puzzling situation that only time can solve. Chad Billingsley hopes time can heal the torn ligament in his elbow, not season-ending Tommy John surgery. Ted Lilly hopes he can pitch like a legitimate fifth starter, having not pitched in the majors since last May because of injuries. He, Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang may have to hope that Colletti can find a desirable destination for their talents outside of L.A.

If healthy, it’s hard to imagine this group staying together. Otherwise, the Dodgers are left with the first eight-man rotation in major-league history, and wouldn’t that be an interesting outcome to what promises to be an interesting camp.

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When will Clayton Kershaw make his next start?

Clayton Kershaw is tentatively scheduled to start Wednesday on regular rest in the Dodgers’ regular-season finale against the Giants, but nobody truly knows when he’ll pitch next.

Will it be this season? Next season? In the regular season? In the playoffs?

Truth is, nobody knows, and Dodgers manager Don Mattingly wasn’t even in the mood for giving hints Saturday afternoon.

“We haven’t really crossed that bridge yet,” Mattingly said. “I hope it’s not a decision at all. I hope he’s needed to pitch.”

There’s only three scenarios under which it’s not a decision:

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Decision on Kershaw coming tonight.

Clayton Kershaw threw a normal bullpen session prior to Tuesday’s game in San Diego and cleared himself to pitch “as soon as possible — tomorrow.”

The Dodgers won’t let Kershaw start on two days’ rest, but Kershaw’s upbeat evaluation was certainly good news for a team in search of a late-September miracle in their playoff chase. Kershaw’s return to health from the pain in his right hip is becoming a minor miracle of its own.

“I have no medical reasoning for why it feels good now and didn’t feel good before,” he said.

Manager Don Mattingly said that he would meet with general manager Ned Colletti on Tuesday night for a final decision on Kershaw’s next start. They seem to be leaning toward letting Kershaw to start on regular rest Friday against the Colorado Rockies.

“Everybody’s OK with the decision, what we’re thinking,” Mattingly said, “but it’s just a matter of making sure Ned’s involved with it, everybody else is involved with it.”

Kershaw said that he stopped doing lower-body lifting in the gym, but that’s been the only change to his between-starts routine.

“Everything’s been totally normal,” Mattingly said. “He’s doing everything that he would do after any other start throughout the course of the whole season. I saw him in the lobby yesterday and he’s like, ‘when am I pitching again?’ ”

Mattingly did allow for the possibility that Kershaw wouldn’t pitch if the Dodgers are out of playoff contention by Friday. In the worst-case scenario, the Dodgers would be six games out of the final wild-card spot with six games to play if they are swept by the San Diego Padres, and the Cardinals beat the Houston Astros in their next two games.

Kershaw has pitched 211.2 innings this season and 649.1 in the past three seasons combined.

Emptying out the notebook, windy edition.

Winds were heavy Friday in Glendale – up to 40 mph, according to a website that I can give credence to after forgetting to bring a jacket this morning.

On a practical level, that meant no pre-scheduled pop-up drills. “That’s a waste of time,” manager Don Mattingly said. “You don’t mind guys being tested, but this is -you’re not going to get anything done there. We got into some forced balks, stuff like that. …AT&T (Park in San Francisco) is pretty windy, but it’s different circumstance. We weren’t going to get anything done with that drill today.”

Some more nuts-and-bolts items:

On Sunday, the Dodgers will play a four-inning intrasquad scrimmage. Clayton Kershaw, Chris Capuano, Stephen Fife and Will Savage are scheduled to throw.

Team pictures were taken today prior to workouts.

The first official game is Monday against the Chicago White Sox, who share the Camelback facility and will make the Dodgers the visiting team on a field adjacent to their own clubhouse. (Go figure.) One thing to look out for is the number of at-bats given to James Loney, Juan Rivera and Mark Ellis. Each has been notorious for starting slowly in the first half, then picking it up in the second. Why? Mattingly offered his theory.

“Most guys that are slow starters that kind of get rolling after that are usually timing guys,” Mattingly said. “It takes ‘em a little bit longer to get in. Once they click it in, they’re pretty solid.”

One possible solution: More at-bats.

“When James has gotten a lot of at-bats, he’s gotten off to a better start. We’re going to try to get him more (at-bats) than probably most. Ellis has been a slow starter, had some good springs, some bad springs. He’s had a year or so where he’s had decent starts but it doesn’t seem like the (number of) at-bats really makes a difference. Juan’s the same way.
… (Jerry) Hairston, we want to try to get him a lot of at-bats down here, especially late. We want to get him more late.”