3/1/2014 6:48 P.M. ET
Kemp to increase work after positive MRI results
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp jogged Saturday for the first time since his October ankle surgery.
"I never thought running would be so fun," said Kemp. "It's been a while since I've been able to do running without being 80 percent body weight [on an impact-reducing machine]. Today was pretty good."
Kemp was given the green light after favorable results from an MRI of his healing left ankle, but there still is no timetable for his return to game action.
"I can't really put a timetable on it because I don't know what my body's going to feel like," he said. "But everyone should know that I'm getting better."
Kemp is attempting to return from a career-threatening injury to the weight-bearing talus bone in his left ankle, which suffered a stress reaction and cartilage chip on a home-plate slide last year. The repair surgery by Dr. Robert Anderson included a microfracture procedure to produce additional cartilage-like substance for extra protection to the bone.
The tricky part of the comeback is that if Kemp returns too soon, the bone can be damaged permanently, and there is no way to accurately predict when the bone is fully healed.
Kemp said he is in Step 5 of a seven-step rehab program. At this point, the pace of his recovery will depend on how his ankle feels and the feedback he gives trainers. Kemp insists he won't come back until he's 100 percent. "I have to be right with myself and make sure I'm able to do a first-to-third or be able to score, on a base hit, from second base," he said. "I don't want to have any negative thoughts in my head. I want to be able to go out there and play aggressive and steal bases when I can, and do some of those athletic things that everybody is used to me doing.
The decision to step up Kemp's activity was made after Anderson viewed the MRI.
Kemp said he was pleased with the news and maintained his resolve not to rush back and risk re-injury, as he said he's done in the past.
Kemp originally suffered the injury sliding into home July 21. It was originally diagnosed as a sprain, and the damage to the talus bone showed up on an MRI during his rehab.
Kemp will open the season on the disabled list, his sixth visit there since May 2012. Prior to that, Kemp was an ironman and at one stretch played in 399 consecutive games. He's also returning from his second shoulder operation in as many seasons.
"I see good things for the Dodgers, and I hope and pray there is a healthy Matt out there in 2014," he said.
Greinke's strained right calf improving
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke reported further improvement in his mild right calf strain on Saturday.
Manager Don Mattingly said Greinke would play catch on flat ground for the second consecutive day and work toward a bullpen session. Once Greinke throws a bullpen session, he would likely pitch in a simulated game, with risky actions such as covering bases controlled.
All of that adds up to Greinke being scratched from the club's season-opening trip to Australia, although club officials have yet to make that official. But with the projected timetable, it is virtually impossible for Greinke to be at a 90-pitch count in three weeks.
The right-hander made only four pitches Thursday, when he injured the leg in his first spring start against Arizona.
Billingsley throws curveballs in bullpen session
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers pitcher Chad Billingsley threw breaking balls off a mound Saturday for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery last April 25.
"It had good spin, I've just got to get the feel back and the release point," said Billingsley. "I definitely was a little rusty."
Billingsley threw fastballs, changeups and curveballs in a bullpen session.
"I'll mix in cutters next time, I'm not sure when," Billingsley said. "We'll see how the arm reacts from this."
Billingsley said he was confident he wouldn't have a problem Saturday because he had "flipped" curves while playing catch on flat ground previously.
Billingsley hasn't had a setback since starting his rehab.
"I've been very lucky," he said. "At this stage of the rehab, we're really testing it, stressing the ligament a little more, building strength into it."
Haren happy to get work in vs. big leaguers
PHOENIX -- Dan Haren was thankful the skies cleared after a rainy morning, so he could make his Dodgers exhibition debut Saturday against the Brewers instead of Minor Leaguers in a camp game.
Zack Greinke's calf injury increases the chances that fourth starter Haren will be needed in Australia, something for which he has prepared since December, and he didn't want the weather to slow him down.
"I asked [pitching coach] Rick Honeycutt in December, and he told me to be prepared, because you never know what's going to happen," said Haren, who allowed Milwaukee one run in two innings. "I started preparing earlier than usual. I made 35 pitches today, with 15 more in the bullpen afterward. Getting 50 around March 1 is a little ahead of usual."
With Greinke doubtful to make the trip, the Dodgers will be choosing from Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Haren, although all three figure to be in Australia just in case.
"If I had to pitch in Australia for some reason, this allowed me to stay on track," Haren said. "With only three weeks, one day means a lot."
Haren said his first inning was "pretty bad," but the second was "much better. I bet you the next start will be more crisp."
On playing in Australia, Haren had the script down: "It would be the chance of a lifetime. Why don't you guys all tweet that?"
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.