02/25/11 2:20 PM EST
Mattingly eager to get things rolling on Saturday
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
He'll reach that milestone on Saturday, when the Dodgers begin the 2011 exhibition season with simultaneous split-squad games in Scottsdale, Ariz., against the World Series champion Giants, and in Tempe, Ariz., against the Angels.
There's only one of Mattingly -- and he will be in Scottsdale, taking a first look at the division favorite, and he'll bring along bench coach Trey Hillman and third-base coach Tim Wallach. Triple-A Albuquerque manager Lorenzo Bundy will be at the helm of the squad in Tempe, joined by pitching coach Rick Honeycutt and first-base coach Davey Lopes.
In Scottsdale, non-roster invitee Tim Redding is scheduled to be the starting pitcher, although he was sent home from practice on Friday with the flu. Redding, who has bounced around despite a pair of 10-win seasons in the Major Leagues, finished last season pitching in Korea.
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"He was under the weather this morning. They said he felt funky," said Mattingly. "He felt he'd be able to pitch. We'll see."
Redding would be followed on the mound by Carlos Monasterios, a Rule 5 Draft pick who made the club last year, but will have a tougher time earning a job this year. Monasterios likely would start if Redding can't. First baseman James Loney, catcher Rod Barajas and left fielder Marcus Thames are the regulars on the travel list to play the Giants.
At Tempe, No. 4 starter Hiroki Kuroda will get the start, and close followers of the Dodgers' Minor League system will be just as interested in the pitchers that follow him.
Second on the list is Rubby De La Rosa, the top pitching prospect in the organization; then Scott Elbert, back on track after missing the second half of last year with personal problems; then Lance Cormier, a non-roster invitee who could claim one of the spots that Vicente Padilla (arm surgery) or Ronald Belisario (visa problems) could have had.
Kuroda will be accompanied to Tempe by first-string outfielders Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp, platoon outfielder Jay Gibbons and platoon catcher Dioner Navarro.
Infielders Casey Blake, Rafael Furcal and Juan Uribe were accorded the veteran perk of skipping the first bus trip, and will make their game debuts on Sunday at home against the Angels.
General manager Ned Colletti, a stickler for the "presentation" of a team on the field, is pleased with the early work in this camp.
"I think they picked up Donnie's attitude and his expectations," Colletti said. "I see it in the crispness of the drills, the conversations they're having and the extra work they're doing."
Mattingly, meanwhile, said he's settling in to his first Spring Training as a Major League manager. He's overcome the nervousness he expressed before holding the first full-squad meeting, and he's excited about Saturday's openers.
"I'm really excited to start seeing what the club looks like," he said. "We're still a little bit [uncertain] here and there, but there are no tricks to Spring Training. We want to play good ball, but mostly get the guys ready."
Mostly, though, he seems to be genuinely enjoying the role as mentor Joe Torre's successor.
"Obviously, it's work, but if you don't enjoy it, well, I love what I'm doing," he said. "Really, I've never worked a day in my life. I've always loved playing, practicing, everything you go through. I don't consider it work. I'm having fun with it."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.