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03/09/12 7:45 PM ET

Late brother inspires LA prospect Castellanos

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Alex Castellanos, who has slugged homers each of the last two Dodgers games, is playing out his dream while playing in the memory of his older brother, who died 4 1/2 years ago in a Miami boating accident.

Ozzie's Angel Foundation was established to teach children to swim, and Castellanos still volunteers in the tradition of his late brother, who was a 23-year-old lifeguard off duty when he fell out of the boat in which he was riding, then was run over by that boat.

"I do what I can to help teach the kids when I'm home," said Castellanos, ranked No. 13 among the Dodgers' top prospects. "The foundation was started by our family because teaching kids to swim was my brother's passion. We also want to educate people about safe boating practices."

The Dodgers acquired Castellanos in last summer's trade with the Cardinals for Rafael Furcal. He hit a combined .320 with 23 homers and 85 RBIs last year then went to the Arizona Fall League, but strained an oblique and was sent home.

Undrafted out of high school because he said scouts considered him too small, the 6-foot, 195-pound Castellanos was taken by the Cardinals in the 10th round out of little Belmont Abbey College as a second baseman before being moved to third, then the outfield. Now 25, he was having his best season last year when he was traded.

"I was kind of shocked," he said of the trade.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Castellanos will primarily play at second base this spring to determine if he should be groomed to follow Mark Ellis, who signed a two-year contract. Castellanos is ticketed for more seasoning at Triple-A but has the spring to make an impression on his new club.

"He'll see more time at second," Mattingly said. "We need to find out if he can play it."

Kershaw runs into little trouble in first start

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Facing pretty much the first-string offense of the defending American League champion Texas Rangers on Friday, Clayton Kershaw looked pretty much like a Cy Young winner anyway.

The Dodgers ace breezed through three scoreless innings on three hits with one two-out walk. Although the National League strikeout king failed to fan anybody, he did pick Nelson Cruz off first base and showed off his Gold Glove by snagging former Dodger Adrian Beltre's line drive near his right knee.

"I felt all right," Kershaw said. "Definitely could have been better. I'll take it."

This was Kershaw's first official exhibition game, although he pitched a two-inning simulated game Sunday. He also threw extra pitches in the bullpen afterward.

"My changeup was terrible," he said. "I went to the bullpen afterward and figured it out a little bit. Just tinkering and it felt better. I hope to take it into the game next time and be better."

That's Kershaw, tinkering with his fourth-best pitch and trying to get better after signing a two-year, $19 million contract.

Manager Don Mattingly said Kershaw was sharp but tried to keep a game in the first week of Spring Training in perspective.

"Spring Training, especially a club like theirs, they know they're in for the long haul," he said. "Hopefully, we can get to a point after going to the World Series a couple of times in a row and we're working to just get ready. They knew it was 'Kersh' and I guarantee a couple had their game on. That said, he'll be good against everybody. I don't care who they are, he's a handful."

Dodgers' bats spring to life in early action

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Dodgers' offense has opened Spring Training looking like the one that finished last year on fire.

With Dee Gordon suddenly a walk machine atop the order and Andre Ethier able to slug extra-base hits again, the Dodgers have that lengthened offense again, with Matt Kemp and Juan Rivera adding their first home runs of the spring in a 9-0 win over Texas on Friday.

"One down, 50 still to go," joked Kemp, having fun with his 50-50 prediction for homers and stolen bases.

For Rivera, it was also his first hit of the year.

"My swing is not there yet," he said. "Every day it's getting better. I'll be OK."

For what it's worth five games into the exhibition season, manager Don Mattingly's club has scored 29 runs compared with 18 through five games last year.

"Donnie wants us to get rolling right away and get off to a fast start," said Ethier.

Gordon's walk led off the game and led to the first run. He's now walked three times in his last four plate appearances after walking only seven times in 233 plate appearances last season. He hit a one-out single in a three-run fourth inning, stole second and scored on Jerry Hairston's single.

"Most exciting man in baseball -- Dee Gordon," said Kemp.

"I worked with my dad a lot over the winter on pitch recognition," said Gordon, son of former Major League pitcher Tom Gordon. "He'd throw pitches and I'd take the balls and dry-swing at the strikes. It's made a real difference."

Ethier singled and tripled, his surgically repaired right knee looking fully recovered with a .625 batting average. Catcher A.J. Ellis doubled and walked. Alex Castellanos represented the kids later in the game with a pinch-hit homer, his second long ball in as many days, this one on an 0-2 pitch.

New book to give visual history of Dodgers

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Dodgers, as part of the 50th anniversary of Dodger Stadium, will release an official illustrated coffee-table book this year called "Dodgers: From Coast to Coast -- The Official Visual History of the Dodgers."

The book, with an introduction by legendary broadcaster Vin Scully and a foreword by Hall of Fame former manager Tom Lasorda, will be released on April 10, the Dodgers' home opener, and will be available for purchase at Dodger Stadium merchandise locations and online at dodgers.com/book for $40.

The 256-page book includes original essays told by former Dodgers Ron Cey, Tommy Davis, Roy Gleason, Shawn Green, Eric Karros, Wally Moon, Wes Parker, Steve Sax, Mike Scioscia and Steve Yeager as well as Ann Meyers Drysdale, wife of the late Hall of Famer Don Drysdale.

From the team's Brooklyn roots in the late 1800s, through the 1947 arrival of Jackie Robinson and the team's pioneering move west in 1958, the book chronicles Dodgers history, including its six World Series championships and superstars from Duke Snider and Sandy Koufax to Fernando Valenzuela, Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp.

The book is published by Skybox Press/Abrams and was compiled by Dodgers team historian Mark Langill and Dodgers publications director Jorge Martin.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.