Cruz increases chance of making roster
Two-run triple, game-winning run Saturday makes statement
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Don't rule out Luis Cruz for the Dodgers' final roster spot.
Cruz tripled in a pair of runs and scored the winning run in Saturday's 5-4 win over the Indians. He's in the mix for the final position player spot, along with Justin Sellers, Jerry Sands, Josh Fields, Cory Sullivan, Trent Oeltjen and Matt Angle.
Coming into Spring Training, Sands was the favorite, but he's hitting .167. Sellers is having a big Spring, batting .357 with seven RBIs and can play second, short and third. More importantly, Sellers is already on the 40-man roster.
Cruz can play all of Sellers' positions, and catch. He's also hitting .350 with six RBIs. The native of Mexico has played parts of three Major League seasons with Pittsburgh and Milwaukee. He split last year between Houston's Triple-A team at Round Rock and the Mexican League.
"He's been interesting," said manager Don Mattingly. "He's flexible and durable. He would flip things if he's part of that mix. I think he still is. Josh Fields had another really good at-bat (11-pitch walk). Jerry (Sands) is still part of that."
So is Cory Sullivan, who gives the Dodgers outfield depth. He drove in Cruz for the winning run. The former Rockie is hitting .290 with seven RBIs.
Race for final bullpen spot down to four
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Dodgers narrowed the competition for the final bullpen spot to four Saturday by reassigning Fernando Nieve, Angel Guzman and Wil Ledezma to Minor League camp.
Wright and Grabow, who pitched Saturday, have out clauses they can exercise Sunday, which gives the Dodgers five days to guarantee their Major League salaries for the year, or release them.
Wright came into camp considered the favorite because he was coming off a solid season with Seattle (3.16 ERA in 60 appearances) and is versatile enough to pitch multiple innings plus short relief.
Lindblom handled the role nicely as a rookie and is having a strong spring, but he's handicapped because the Dodgers have options on him and can keep Wright and Grabow while sending him to the Minor Leagues. If the club opens the season with Lindblom, Wright and Grabow likely will take their release and look for work elsewhere.
The Dodgers also must decide if they want that last spot for long relief (Wright or Lindblom) or for a second lefty (Grabow or Rice). Scott Elbert is the other lefty expected on the Opening Day roster.
Neck stiffness forces Lilly to skip session
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers starting pitcher Ted Lilly missed a scheduled bullpen session Saturday because of recurring neck stiffness.
Lilly, who pitched six innings in a Minor League game Wednesday, left a start early last August because of neck stiffness and underwent acupuncture therapy, which appeared to resolve the problem.
Manager Don Mattingly said infielder Jerry Hairston passed a series of tests to rule out an arm injury and took part in morning workouts. Mattingly conceded he's concerned about Hairston's five throwing errors this spring.
Infielder Justin Sellers is down for possibly several days because of a skin irritation and non-roster reliever Scott Rice, making a longshot bid for a bullpen spot, took part in early workouts then was sent home because of strep throat.
Mattingly gets pitchers work in Minor League games
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Manager Don Mattingly said a handful of his pitchers will throw in Minor League games Saturday and Sunday.
Ronald Belisario, Angel Guzman and Wil Ledezma were to pitch Saturday. Belisario must start the season with a 25-game suspension for violating MLB's drug policy, while Guzman and Ledezma are longshot non-roster candidates for the final bullpen spot.
Those three will come back and pitch in Sunday's exhibition game to give them outings on back-to-back days.
Mike MacDougal, Todd Coffey and Kenley Jansen, already scheduled to pitch in Saturday's exhibition game, are also slated to throw Sunday in Minor League games so they will have back-to-back outings.
Additionally, reliever Matt Guerrier, rehabbing from a lower back strain, threw a bullpen session Saturday and is scheduled to pitch in Monday's exhibition game, which would be his first game action since Mar. 11.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.