3/10/2013 8:14 P.M. ET
Improved Kershaw is far from satisfied
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw allowed one unearned run in five innings on Sunday. So he only beat himself up a little bit afterward.
"It was better," Kershaw said, comparing this start to the previous one, when he allowed four runs in three innings. "I'm still not throwing a lot of breaking balls for strikes. I'm getting behind in counts, and that's not great. I still walked three guys. But it was a little more encouraging."
Kershaw, who brought a 9.00 ERA into the game, was particularly critical of his previous performance.
"I'm just honest," he said. "I call it like I see it. Everybody wants to do well, Spring Training or not."
Manager Don Mattingly said he's got no complaints about his Opening Day starter.
"He's been fine," he said. "He had one outing that was rough, but it was like -- dink, dink, hit one hard. But he's been fine."
Kershaw, who struck out looking in his first at-bat, singled in a run in the fourth inning. This was the first game that pitchers batted for the Dodgers.
"It's always fun to hit," said Kershaw. "There's more of a game-like feel with at-bats."
Dodgers offense enjoys encouraging Sunday
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Matt Kemp had his first two hits and his first RBI, Carl Crawford returned to outdoor batting practice and even Juan Uribe got into the act with a homer as the Dodgers' offense had a good Sunday.
Kemp, 0-for-11 with five strikeouts coming into the 6-1 win over the Rockies, had a pair of hits, a walk, drove in a run and scored once.
No, he didn't ask to keep the ball after to mark the occasion of his first-inning single.
"I should have," joked Kemp, on the rebound from shoulder surgery. "I was better. Not all the way where I need to be, but it was better. My rhythm was better. I'm not panicking at all. This is how Spring Training is for everybody the first three or four games. Most guys feel weird."
Kemp also said his return to play the field has helped his rhythm, while the adrenaline fueled by a sellout crowd of 12,287 at Salt River Fields made Saturday's exhibition "more game-like."
Crawford isn't ready for games, but he's headed in the right direction. He advanced to taking batting practice outdoors Saturday instead of in the cage. He's still not ready to throw, as trainers are easing him back after a nerve flareup of his surgically repaired elbow.
"Everything went good today," Crawford said. "Pretty much every day it's been another step. I'll probably do this for the next couple days. They want me to get my hitting going before I start throwing, and so far, no problems."
Uribe, meanwhile, continues his spring of answering critics who can't understand why he's still on the club. He's been a quick study at first base, as a 3-6-3 double-play showed, and he's making progress in breaking two years of bad habits with his swing.
"I'm thinking up the middle and right field now," said Uribe, who got pull-happy last season after signing with the Dodgers. "That's what I did before with the Giants. When I think the middle, I let the pitch come in deeper to me. I pull the homer, but last year, I probably hit that ball foul."
Uribe now projects as the backup corner infielder behind Adrian Gonzalez at first base, Luis Cruz at third and a right-handed pinch-hitter.
Dodgers may delay Greinke's return
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke is questionable for his scheduled start Monday because of continued elbow discomfort, while Chad Billingsley is dealing with a sore groin muscle.
Greinke missed a bullpen session nine days ago because of elbow stiffness, missed a start four days ago because of the flu, then threw an impressive bullpen session on Friday.
But the discomfort in the back of his elbow has persisted and -- with seven other starters in the current rotation -- club officials are considering holding him out for precautionary reasons.
Doctors have ruled out serious injuries such as ligament damage. Greinke has told the club he's dealt with similar elbow issues in the past that never kept him from missing a start.
Greinke referred questions to club officials, and manager Don Mattingly was non-committal about Monday's starter.
"We'll see tomorrow," Mattingly said.
Hyun-Jin Ryu is already scheduled to pitch on Monday and will likely start if Greinke doesn't.
Greinke was signed to a $147 million contract in December (the richest for a right-hander at the time) after exceeding 200 innings in four of the last five seasons. He missed in 2011 because of a broken rib sustained in a pickup basketball game that left him on the disabled list throughout April.
He has made only two starts this spring for a total of five innings, while Opening Day starter Clayton Kershaw made his fourth start on Sunday and has pitched 13 innings.
Meanwhile, Billingsley is dealing with a sore right groin muscle, an injury he's had in previous springs. He is coming off an outing of 3 1/3 innings on Thursday and is scheduled to make his next start on Wednesday's off-day in a Minor League game.
Cruz, Gonzalez rejoining Dodgers after eventful Classic
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Adrian Gonzalez and Luis Cruz will rejoin the Dodgers on Monday after escaping without injury or suspension following Team Mexico's World Baseball Classic fracas with Team Canada on Saturday.
With a 9-3 lead in the ninth inning, Canada catcher Chris Robinson dropped a bunt for a base hit. Mexico took exception. Relief pitcher Arnold Leon appeared to throw at the next batter, Rene Tosoni, on three straight pitches, finally hitting him with the third, and both benches emptied.
Cruz appeared to be an instigator to the incident. He was playing deep at third base, where the bunt went for a single. Cruz fielded the bunt without throwing to first, then gestured with the ball into his ribs to Leon, then pointing at Tosoni, who was the next hitter.
Though the bunt would normally be a violation of baseball etiquette, in the World Baseball Classic, the primary tiebreaker in three-way ties is based on a run-differential formula. Thus, teams have a vested interest in scoring as much as they possibly can.
"I saw a little of it. You don't want anything to happen," said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. "Baseball etiquette, you don't play like that. I've been in Pony tournaments, round-robins with tiebreakers [based on runs scored]. I don't think you can ever say [fighting] is OK, but that's just not good baseball.
"Cruz texted me and something happened earlier in the game he didn't like with Ramiro Pena. I didn't see it, but the guys took exception to it."
Guerra pitching through 'minor' groin strain
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers reliever Javy Guerra was hampered by a strained right groin muscle on Saturday, when he allowed two runs in two-thirds of an inning in a Minor League game against the Reds.
Guerra, who had pitched one-third of an inning in Friday's rainout against the Giants, was halted at a 25-pitch limit on Saturday, having walked two and allowed two hits, including a triple.
Guerra downplayed the injury, calling it "something minor" that cropped up Sunday and led to a mechanical flaw. He said a "simple adjustment" made while throwing in the bullpen after his outing brought pitches that sailed high during the game back into the strike zone.
"When I'm a hair off, it changes everything," said Guerra, who had knee surgery last season and shoulder surgery after the season. "I know my arm is healthy. The biggest thing is that if my arm is 100 percent, I can pitch with anybody."
Guerra has had an eventful week, having been added to Team Mexico for the World Baseball Classic last weekend, only to be dropped before play began because of liability issues following the shoulder surgery.
Guerra, who a year ago was the Dodgers closer, is in a battle to make the Opening Day roster because of the club's bullpen depth and the surplus of starting pitchers that might be relegated to relief.
Also pitching for the Dodgers in the "B" game were Matt Magill (3 IP, 0 R), Stephen Fife (1 IP, 0 R) and Steve Ames (1 IP, 0 R).
Palmer to have left knee surgery
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Non-roster pitcher Matt Palmer will undergo arthroscopic left knee surgery, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said on Sunday.
Palmer sustained the injury while walking after playing catch on Saturday.
"He took a step, and the knee locked up," said Mattingly.
Palmer had a 3.60 ERA in three spring appearances, allowing nine runs (seven unearned) in five innings, his outings marred by several errant pickoff throws. He allowed nine hits.
"He felt like there had been a little swelling. [It] might have been a sign, but he didn't think it was a sign," said Mattingly. "To me, if it happened when he was walking, it was going to go anyway."
An MRI showed a medial meniscus tear. The surgery will be performed by Dr. Brian Shafer in Phoenix on Tuesday. Palmer is expected return to play in 6-8 weeks.
Palmer, a 33-year-old right-hander, has pitched parts of the past five seasons in the Major Leagues, including briefly for San Diego last year. He went 11-2 for the Angels in 2009 as a swingman.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.