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03/16/12 7:38 PM ET

Caught stealing, Gordon to do an about-face

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- After singling leading off the bottom of the first inning on Friday against the Rangers, the Dodgers' Dee Gordon attempted to steal second base with a feet-first slide and was called out by umpire Mike Muchlinski.

"I'm not doing that again," said Gordon. "I've been working on not sliding headfirst, so I thought I was going to be safe and figured I would try it. And I was safe. I was like, 'Really?' That's what I get for thinking.

"Feet first? I'm over that. I gotta do what feels natural."

Still too soon to talk about Guerrier to DL

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The back injury that has sidelined reliever Matt Guerrier could prevent the right-hander from making the Opening Day roster, although manager Don Mattingly said it is premature to assume that now.

Guerrier has missed four days of workouts with a lower back strain suffered while doing leg exercises. He has had two one-inning appearances this spring, the most recent being Sunday. He has started playing catch, but is probably more than a week away from returning to game action.

That would leave him with about two weeks of exhibition games to be ready for Opening Day on April 5.

"He's better, but he's still not off the mound," said Mattingly. "It'll be a few more days. It could be something that we don't want to linger, but we're not there [disabled list] yet. It could go there. We're not going to force him."

If Guerrier is disabled, it would allow the Dodgers to keep an extra reliever such as Ramon Troncoso (out of options) or one of the 10 non-roster pitchers currently in camp.

Blake Hawksworth will begin the season on the disabled list after elbow surgery and Ronald Belisario (also out of options) must serve a 25-game suspension for violating MLB's drug policy before the Dodgers make a move with him. Belisario hasn't pitched since Saturday because of strep throat.

Lilly not too old to learn new tricks

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- There is more to being a Major League pitcher than just throwing the ball 60 feet 6 inches.

At 36, Ted Lilly has 125 Major League wins, but hasn't stopped trying to get better. Late last year, at the urging of the club, he tinkered with his delivery to make it harder for runners to steal bases.

And this spring, according to manager Don Mattingly, Lilly will do some extra work to improve his bunting.

Lilly's pitching looked pretty good Friday. He threw four scoreless innings against the Rangers, allowing one hit and striking out two.

"His stuff was crisper than it was last year, for sure," said Mattingly. "I feel really comfortable with where Ted's at."

But Lilly accepts there is room for improvement in other parts of his game.

"I'm paying more attention to runners," he said. "I'm still slow and it seems like when I try to be quick, I waste the pitch. It's still a work in progress. I have to find the right tempo to where it makes a difference for the runner and I can still execute my pitch. It just shows the kind of pressure someone like Dee [Gordon] can put on a pitcher with Matt Kemp coming up."

As for the bunting, Mattingly said some new drills will be devised to get Lilly bunting practice off live pitching instead of a machine.

"We're going to take a deeper look into it," said Mattingly. "Part of being a pitcher, you want to help yourself with the bat, stay in the game. A National League pitcher, you've got to be a little better bunter."

Despite absence, Loney looks locked in

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- After missing two days with a tight calf, James Loney returned to the lineup Friday with a three-run home run and single in the Dodgers' 5-2 win over Texas.

The Dodgers hope a .357 spring average is a sign that Loney will pick up in 2012 the way he finished 2011. Loney has often explained that he shook free from a year-long slump after the All-Star break by going back to his basics and doing what was comfortable.

"I just have an understanding of what I was doing and what works for me," said Loney, whose second-half surge last year coincided with the promotion of Dave Hansen to hitting coach. "The confidence factor is there for me."

"That's what I like," said manager Don Mattingly. "Spring Training is tough. You're always searching for the feel. James was out a couple days and came right back looking exactly the same. He looks confident. This could be an interesting year for him."

A free agent year, too. While he lacks the power normally associated with first basemen, Loney has driven in 90 runs twice and the Dodgers would take that.

"What I see is good timing," Mattingly said. "In the past, you would see James with different triggers for his swing. His hands would be up, they'd be down. The bat would be up, it would be on his shoulder. It looks like he's found his rhythm. One thing I'm seeing with James now is consistency. He just looks good."

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