03/22/2013 8:45 PM ET
Kershaw continuing to improve on mound
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Opening Day starter Clayton Kershaw battled wildness, but made it through six innings on 105 pitches Friday in the Dodgers' 6-5 loss against a potent Reds lineup.
Kershaw will make one more shorter start on Wednesday before opening the season against the Giants April 1, atop a rotation that won't really be a rotation.
Manager Don Mattingly hinted that Game 2 of the season most likely would be started by Hyun-Jin Ryu, who starts Saturday night. Chad Billingsley, who is on the same cycle as Ryu and pitches in a Minor League game Saturday, could be skipped and/or added to the disabled list because of his lingering bruised right index finger. But Billingsley could be inserted into the rotation as soon as he can throw curveballs, as he would be eligible to be activated from the disabled list April 6.
Josh Beckett is lined up to pitch Game 3 of the season with Zack Greinke and his pain-free elbow getting Game 4, followed by Kershaw. Mattingly said if Kershaw and Greinke are healthy, he would try to keep them on five-day rotations and juggle the others, with a particular preference for giving Beckett extra days off.
What happens to Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang and Ted Lilly is still to be determined.
As for Kershaw and this start, he was charged with three runs (two earned), three walks and a hit batter, but also eight strikeouts.
"I felt all right. A little wild at times, but overall OK," Kershaw said. "Overall, the past two or three starts are definitely better. The one against San Diego I didn't like a whole lot. Overall, OK. Now it's time to get going."
Catcher A.J. Ellis was more impressed than Kershaw.
"He was really sharp, considering he was facing one of the best-hitting lineups," said Ellis. "It was a good test. A couple of pitches we would have liked back, but we accomplished what we wanted to accomplish."
On the Minor League side, Lilly clicked off five scoreless innings in a Triple-A game against Milwaukee as he tries to catch up on starts missed because of illness and rainouts. Lilly said some balls were hit hard, but he allowed only two hits with a walk and three strikeouts.
"Lilly made 59 pitches in five innings," said Mattingly. "His velocity was up again. He's had zero problems with his arm, it's just been everything else."
Dodgers' lineup coming into place for Mattingly
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Already the favorite to replace the injured Hanley Ramirez at shortstop, Luis Cruz slugged a pair of home runs Friday as if he's trying to replace Ramirez as the No. 5 hitter in the batting order too.
But manager Don Mattingly said after Friday's game that he'll probably just move Andre Ethier up to fifth behind clean-up hitter Adrian Gonzalez, even though both are left-handed hitters, at least against right-handed pitching.
"I'll split them against lefties," he said. "But I'll probably hit 'Dre fifth without Hanley against right-handers."
The order figures to go: Carl Crawford, Mark Ellis, Matt Kemp, Gonzalez, Ethier, Cruz, (third baseman), and A.J. Ellis. Juan Uribe, Nick Punto and Jerry Hairston will be rotated at third base.
Mattingly said it was good to see Cruz break out against Reds starter Mike Leake because "he's been fighting a little bit."
Crawford to debut in left on Saturday
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Carl Crawford will play his first game in the field for the Dodgers Saturday night, manager Don Mattingly said Friday.
Crawford has been rehabbing his left (throwing) arm since undergoing Tommy John surgery last August. He had one setback earlier this spring and was shut down for a week, but responded to medication and has made steady progress since, while under closer observation by the club's medical team.
Crawford took part in relay and cutoff drills earlier this week for the first time and experienced no ill effects.
He was in the lineup Friday as a designated hitter.
The Dodgers now expect Crawford to be ready to play left field for Opening Day. So far this Spring, he has batted leadoff exclusively.
Feeling good, Greinke likely to pitch Monday
GLENDALE -- Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke said he felt fine after throwing an impressive bullpen session Friday and will likely pitch on Monday.
Greinke, who pitched four innings of a Minor League game on Tuesday, hasn't pitched in a Cactus League game since March 1 because of elbow tenderness and the flu. But with two more scheduled spring starts, he could be in line to make his first start as a Dodger April 5 against the Pirates.
Greinke appeared to be throwing hard and without pain in the bullpen session. He has thrown only five innings over two starts this spring and is on a crash course to rack up enough foundational innings to build the arm strength needed to start the season on the active roster.
In other starting pitcher news, manager Don Mattingly said Chad Billingsley will further test his bruised right index finger starting a Minor League game Saturday, with Hyun-Jin Ryu drawing the start in the night Cactus League game.
Park arrives to Dodgers camp to help Ryu
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chan Ho Park, who blazed the trail from Korea to the Major Leagues, has been brought into camp to watch, and work out with, fellow Korean Hyun-Jin Ryu.
Park was a Dodger twice for a total of nine seasons, and when he arrived in 1994, he was the first Korean to sign as an amateur and go to the Major Leagues.
"Chan Ho was very influential to me and very helpful and has given me insight into playing in the Major Leagues and giving me the dream to play in the Major Leagues," Ryu said late last year, after the Dodgers won the rights to negotiate with him. "As a baseball alumni, he's teaching me the ropes."
Puig OK after getting wind knocked out of him
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Cuban sensation Yasiel Puig gave his growing legion of fans a scare Friday when he had the wind knocked out of him trying to make a diving catch on a Brandon Phillips wind-blown fly ball.
Puig, however, said he was fine and expected to play Saturday night.
In an apparent miscommunication with left fielder Jerry Hairston, Puig raced over from his spot in center and made a desperate and late diving attempt. The ball dropped for what was ruled as an error and Puig remained on the ground face first.
Puig remained on the ground long enough for Hairston to wave for aid from the dugout. Trainer Sue Falsone and manager Don Mattingly responded. Puig arose and left the game under his own power, holding his lower left side below the ribcage.
A half inning earlier, Puig electrified the large crowd with a line hit down the left-field line, racing to second for a double and continuing to third when left fielder Ryan Ludwick bobbled the ball.
Hanley undergoes surgery on injured thumb
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez underwent surgery as planned Friday and the club reiterated he will be out eight weeks.
Ramirez tore a thumb ligament diving for a ground ball in the World Baseball Classic final Tuesday night.
Dr. Steven Shin from the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic performed the 45-minute operation on Ramirez, who will have his thumb in a splint for three weeks, then he can resume range of motion exercises before returning to baseball activity.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.