2/13/2013 6:25 P.M. ET
Reliever Elbert not expected back until May
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers left-handed reliever Scott Elbert, recovering from his second elbow operation in four months, said on Wednesday that he won't resume throwing until next month and doesn't expect to return until May.
"They didn't give me a time frame, but it looks like May," said Elbert, whose second surgery led to the signing of free-agent reliever J.P. Howell for $2.85 million.
On Sept. 19, Elbert underwent a first procedure to remove scar tissue in the back of the elbow. But after beginning a throwing program, he developed pain in a different area that led to a Jan. 23 arthroscopic procedure involving "a new area of cartilage damage [that] was discovered and debrided" by Dr. Neal ElAttrache, according to Elbert.
"It feels a lot better now," Elbert said of the elbow. "After the first surgery, I tried throwing for two weeks but had to shut it down. It never calmed down; it just hurt."
Elbert went 1-1 with a 2.20 ERA over 43 appearances last year before being injured a second time at the end of August. His injury could provide an opening for lefty Paco Rodriguez, who was the first player from last year's Draft to reach the Major Leagues; he posted a 1.35 ERA in 11 appearances.
Elbert said he won't allow himself to push too hard, too soon.
"I know I'm already behind, so there's no reason to force the issue now," Elbert said. "What's the difference if I miss four weeks or six? I just want to be sure that when I come back, I come back with a brand new arm."
Conditioning a work in progress for Ryu
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Korean sensation Hyun-Jin Ryu was not sensational during the first conditioning run of Spring Training, huffing and puffing and cutting corners at the back of the pack that included pitchers and catchers.
Ryu then joked to the Korean media that in America, they run too fast in Spring Training.
Having given up cheeseburgers on a diet that has seen him shed eight pounds, Ryu might soon need to consider leaving cigarettes behind, too.
"He made it," said manager Don Mattingly, only to be told by a reporter that Ryu actually didn't finish. "No shortcuts in baseball. Well, we told him, 'If you feel something, don't go too far.' He didn't."
Ryu is schedule to make his first bullpen session on Thursday. It will be the first time general manager Ned Colletti or Mattingly will see Ryu pitch, other than on video.
Throwing their first official bullpen sessions of the spring on Wednesday were Josh Beckett, Chris Capuano, Chad Billingsley, Stephen Fife, Matt Magill, Matt Guerrier, Javy Guerra, Shawn Tolleson, Paco Rodriguez, Kelvin De La Cruz, Chris Withrow, Gregory Infante and Mark Lowe.
Mattingly's focus on team, not contract status
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he won't let his contract status become a distraction.
"It can be part of the noise, but I'm not going to be a distraction to this club," Mattingly said before his pitchers and catchers held their first workout of Spring Training on Wednesday. "I've always considered myself part of the solution, not part of the problem. I'm not going to be an issue."
Mattingly is entering the third and final season of his contract. His request at the end of last season that a 2014 option be guaranteed was declined.
"If it happens, it happens, and if it doesn't, it doesn't," Mattingly said about a new deal. "I'm concerned about doing my job."
In 2011 and '12 -- Mattingly's two seasons in charge -- the Dodgers finished in third place and second, respectively, in the National League West. Both seasons were hampered by ownership turmoil and, as a result, a limited payroll.
This year, new owners have given Mattingly an expensive and talented roster, and they apparently want to see what he can do with it before committing to him for the long term.
"I'm always challenged to get the most out of my club," Mattingly said. "I want to put them in the right position to succeed, to flourish. That's my job. Then you open the gates, let them run and you're at their mercy. If they don't do the job, then it's my fault."
Mattingly acknowledged that the Dodgers -- through what many consider their ostentatious spending -- put a target on their backs.
"Yeah, you feel like that," Mattingly said. "Why deny it? Why run away from it? Be realistic, and hopefully, you kind of spell out what to expect and not to be surprised by the expectations and lay it out. It's something we have a pretty good sense for, and we can address it before it becomes an issue."
Dodgers' 'bold' approach helped sway Greinke
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Dodgers' Zack Greinke was gracious a day after losing the title of richest right-hander in baseball to Felix Hernandez.
"He's worth it," said Greinke, whose six-year, $147 million deal was eclipsed by Hernandez's seven-year, $175 million contract with Seattle.
Greinke, however, declined to publicly offer any negotiating advice to the left-hander two lockers over, Clayton Kershaw, who could become the richest pitcher in history if a contract extension is worked out this spring.
The fact that the Dodgers are willing to discuss an extension with Kershaw after committing hundreds of millions to Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu and others helped sway Greinke to pick the Dodgers over other pursuers like the Angels, Rangers and Brewers.
Greinke said he wanted a team that had the least chance of needing to rebuild during his tenure, which is why he studied the farm systems of some of the interested clubs.
"It wasn't just for the farm system," Greinke said. "Some of it was the organization's ability to sustain a good team. The Dodgers need a farm system less than if I signed with, say, the Rays. Every team may be able to sustain for a period of time with the current roster, but if something doesn't go right, do they have enough to go out and keep the team competitive? My preference is to be in the playoffs every year, and only a couple teams have a good chance at that."
Greinke said the Dodgers were on his radar throughout his contract year and that he spoke with former teammates Jerry Hairston Jr. and Jamey Wright during the season for a feel of the organization.
Greinke said that when the Dodgers made their blockbuster trade with the Red Sox last summer -- acquiring Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto for James Loney and a package of prospects, picking up $280 million in salary commitment -- he thought it was "crazy."
"It was definitely bold," Greinke said. "It was a lot of money. But then you think about the talented guys; you can't get them without paying. But there was so much money involved, it sounded crazy. Then I heard how much money they'll make with the TV deal, [roughly $7 billion]."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.