04/03/2013 9:54 PM ET
Dodgers release veteran reliever Gregg
By Ken Gurnick and Austin Laymance / MLB.com
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers ended the suspense with non-roster reliever Kevin Gregg, releasing him a week after reassigning him to the Minor Leagues and one day before the Triple-A season started.
A former closer who couldn't find a big league job as a free agent over the winter, Gregg signed a Minor League contract with the Dodgers that did not have an opt-out clause. Earlier last week, Gregg said he felt there was a mutual "understanding" that the club would release him to find another job if there wasn't room on the Major League roster.
Gregg pitched better this spring than most of the relievers in the Dodgers' bullpen (one earned run in 11 innings), and his 144 career saves are more than the entire Dodgers bullpen combined.
With three extra starters (Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano and Ted Lilly) still candidates for trade, the Dodgers were hoping to have Gregg pitch regularly at Triple-A Albuquerque to be ready when they needed him.
Billingsley, Lilly set for Class A rehab starts
LOS ANGELES -- Class A Lake Elsinore might not like the pitching matchups for their first two games of the season against Rancho Cucamonga.
Starting for the Quakes on Thursday night will be Chad Billingsley and on Friday night Ted Lilly, the pair of Major League veterans making injury rehab starts for the Dodgers. Combined, they have 210 Major League victories.
For Billingsley, on the disabled list with a bruised right index finger, this should be the final test before he is activated for his scheduled regular-season debut on April 10. Billingsley will be looking to get his pitch count up near 100 and to make sure curveballs don't make his fingernail fall off.
For Lilly, on the disabled list to rebuild arm strength following last year's shoulder surgery, this likely will be the first of several starts.
"Until he gets himself built up," manager Don Mattingly said. "Teddy got behind early coming off surgery and never got caught up. He's had only [nine] innings against Major League hitting."
Mattingly said Lilly's target Friday night is four innings with an eventual goal of 105 pitches to be ready to start in the Major Leagues. Lilly made 58 pitches in his most recent spring appearance on March 27, lasting 2 1/3 innings.
Where Billingsley will become the fifth starter for the Dodgers, Lilly has no apparent role with the five-man rotation full and two extra starters -- Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang -- in the bullpen. All three could be eligible for free agency after this season.
Gifts from Magic another perk of job for Dodgers
LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers ownership partner Magic Johnson surprised players and coaches with signed memorabilia before Wednesday's series finale against the Giants.
A Hall of Fame point guard with the Los Angeles Lakers, Johnson gave autographed basketballs, baseballs and Lakers jerseys to each player and coach.
"It's pretty cool," said outfielder Jerry Hairston Jr., who listed Johnson as his second favorite basketball player behind Michael Jordan. "I'm going to put it in my theater room at home."
Wednesday was not the first time Johnson provided the club with autographed keepsakes.
"I think last year he gave us two jerseys," manager Don Mattingly said. "One was for us and one was to give to charity. I think with Magic and the whole [ownership] group, part of their message was to be involved in the community and help out. I think the Dodgers have always been great in that way."
Johnson has been visibly involved with the Dodgers ever since Guggenheim Partners purchased the club for $2.15 billion nearly a year ago.
"He has an infectious personality," Hairston said. "You can see why he's been successful in everything he's done."
Sellers sits as Dodgers work Uribe into infield mix
LOS ANGELES -- Shortstop Justin Sellers, who made a pair of costly throwing errors in Tuesday's 3-0 loss to the Giants, was not in the Dodgers' lineup for Wednesday's series finale.
Luis Cruz started at short, moving over from third base. Juan Uribe got the start at third.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said the lineup change was not a direct result of Sellers' poor defensive showing Tuesday.
"It's all the same. It was a part of what we're doing already," Mattingly said of the shortstop situation.
In the seventh inning of Tuesday's loss, Sellers made two errors that helped the Giants break a scoreless tie. His errant throw to first base allowed Joaquin Arias to reach safely. Arias later scored.
Sellers was off on a throw home later in the frame, an error that provided another run for San Francisco. Mattingly said after the game Sellers should have taken the out at first base rather than throwing home to try to get an out at the plate.
"When I came in Donnie told me I wasn't starting because he wanted to keep Uribe in the mix," Sellers said Wednesday. "He told me it wasn't about yesterday and not to worry about yesterday. I got yesterday out of the way."
Sellers started the first two games of the season with Hanley Ramirez sidelined by a torn ligament in his right thumb. The club likes Sellers for his defense, but he's struggled at the plate and is 0-for-6 with two strikeouts.
Sellers said he spent 35 minutes on Wednesday working on his swing with hitting coaches Mark McGwire and John Valentin.
"I've got to try and get right at the plate," Sellers said. "But I haven't lost confidence."
Mattingly hasn't lost confidence in Sellers either.
"He'll be back out there," the manager said.