GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers injured pitcher Jon Garland took a big step in his recovery Saturday when he threw off a mound for the first time since straining an oblique muscle March 9.
Garland, slotted as the fifth starter this year, threw 15 pitches and told club officials he felt "nothing" from the injury, which occurred as he made a pitch.
Because of days off, the fifth starter spot does not come up for the Dodgers until April 12. Garland will open the season on the disabled list and it's unlikely he'll be ready to make that outing, but on the current pace of his recovery, he could miss only one or two starts.
The battle to fill in for Garland has come down to non-roster right-hander Tim Redding and right-hander John Ely, who is on the 40-man roster. Redding said his back felt much better Saturday after leaving a game Friday with soreness. He was able to take part in some of the club's workouts. Ely was optioned to the Minor Leagues Saturday, so he can get the innings necessary to start in the big leagues.
Ely is the most likely to get that call, as much because the club has options on him and he can be moved up and down without risk of losing him to another club. For Redding to get the call, the Dodgers would need to guarantee his $750,000 salary, clear a 40-man roster spot and risk losing him to send him back to the Minor Leagues.
Kershaw completes spring season in style
PEORIA, Ariz. -- In a flash, Clayton Kershaw on Saturday went from Spring Training mode (leaving a start after 3 1/3 no-hit innings) to regular-season Opening Day mode (cramming on the Giants lineup he will be facing on Thursday at Dodger Stadium)."Instead of working on things, I'll be more focused on the team I'm facing. I'll go based on what I'm [going to] see from the Giants," Kershaw said after having set up the Dodgers' 5-4 win over the Padres. That attitude for Kershaw extends to his mound opponent -- Tim Lincecum -- when the Dodgers for the first time in their history open the season against a reigning World Series champion. "All I know is, he bats left-handed," said Kershaw, downplaying the duel aspects. Saturday's final tuneup completed Kershaw's preseason on an upbeat note after he had allowed five runs in his prior six exhibition innings. With the fastball at his command, he needed 39 pitches -- 26 of them strikes -- to elicit 10 outs, three of them by strikes. The 23-year-old's final spring line shows seven earned runs allowed in 25 1/3 innings, an ERA of 2.49. He issued six walks with 20 strikeouts. "I was able to throw a strike when I wanted to. I commanded the fastball like I wanted. Everything else works off that," Kershaw said. "It was good to finish off like that, for sure. "That's as good as it's going to get, and I'm just ready for it to start. I'm prepared, now it's time for the real thing, ready or not. From here, it's just a matter of doing it."
The day after leaving his start against Arizona after feeling a twinge in his back, Tim Redding did some long toss and, according to Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, "seemed optimistic about being able to go on." Redding's status will be further evaluated after a bullpen session on Monday. ... Jonathan Broxton pitched a hitless fifth inning, his seventh scoreless appearance out of eight this spring.