3/9/2014 1:12 A.M. ET
Maholm staying focused despite uncertainty
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Paul Maholm's role remains as uncertain as when he signed with the Dodgers at the start of Spring Training.
Even when normalcy returns to the schedule in April, he's the projected sixth starter for a club with a five-man rotation. In other words, he could be in the bullpen, even though he's been a career-long starter.
The Australian adventure adds another layer of unknown. After throwing three innings in a 5-5 tie with the Rangers on Saturday, Maholm said he still doesn't know if he's even going to Australia, never mind pitching there.
"I'm just preparing to pitch wherever they tell me to," Maholm said. "If I pitch well, everything will work out. I'm not concerned with roles."
Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu are expected to start the two games of the Opening Series against Arizona. Even in that case, Maholm is a candidate to pitch the exhibition game against Team Australia two days prior.
For that to happen, Maholm would be one of the three "exempt" players on the trip,meaning he wouldn't be eligible for the games against the D-backs. The Dodgers need those innings eaten while preserving the active roster for the two games that count. Zach Lee and Matt Magill are among other candidates for that start against Team Australia.
Texas scored a run off Maholm on three hits in the second inning, two hits not leaving the infield. Maholm said he got "rushed" and fell behind in counts, but was pleased at the adjustment he made for a perfect third inning that included two of his four strikeouts. Maholm made 12 additional pitches in the bullpen after his outing, bringing his total to 50.
Mattingly: 'Won't be long' before Kemp plays
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Saturday that outfielder Matt Kemp is close to returning to game action.
"I think that's fair to say," Mattingly said when asked if Kemp's intensifying workouts were a sign that game action could soon follow.
Kemp, recovering from serious ankle surgery, has begun to run and make turns, although not yet on the bases. He also has resumed tracking fly balls in the outfield. He has been taking batting practice and throwing throughout Spring Training. He will start the season on the disabled list.
"We're seeing him take fly balls, getting jumps," said Mattingly. "He's swinging the bat good. It won't be long before he's in a game."
Mattingly, however, wouldn't say if the club will see Kemp in a game before the team flight to Australia on March 16.
"I don't put that kind of timetable on it," he said. "As long as he's moving forward."
Gordon gaining traction for second-base job
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly hasn't announced a decision on second base for the regular season, but his recent lineups seem to be doing that for him.
Cuban rookie Alex Guerrero has started only two of the last seven games at the position, so he is essentially ruled out.
Dee Gordon has started four of the last eight, so he seems to be in, at least in some form of a platoon with Justin Turner and/or Chone Figgins. Gordon and Figgins started there in Saturday's two split-squad games.
Gordon went 2-for-4 with two stolen bases (he has seven this spring). He's batting .227, compared to .286 for Guerrero.
"It's just a matter of Dee getting on base and he'll steal bases," Mattingly said. "He has to hit the ball on the ground. Hit it in the air in the big leagues, you're out. It's not Little League, they're going to catch it.
"He has to know who he is. It's what we're asking him to do. Keep the ball out of the air. If he gets on, he'll be dynamic."
Guerrero was signed in October for four years and $28 million with the presumption that he would be the everyday second baseman in 2014. That led the club to let free agents Mark Ellis, Nick Punto and Skip Schumaker leave.
But it proved to be a miscalculation, as Guerrero has shown the rust from sitting out the 2013 season before defecting from Cuba. He also struggled early with the defensive transition to second base from his natural position at shortstop.
Greinke closer to return after BP session
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke successfully tested his healing right calf on Saturday by throwing a two-inning, 34-pitch batting-practice session at Camelback Ranch.
"It went pretty good," said Greinke, who threw to Matt Kemp, among others. "It's not 100 percent, but pretty solid. There's something in there, but it was pretty good."
Greinke injured the leg on the fourth pitch of his first exhibition start on Feb. 27. The injury will keep him from making the club's season-opening trip to Australia.
Greinke was able to sit down for a half-inning on Saturday after throwing the first 17 pitches, then warm up again and throw the second inning with no problem. He said fielding practice could be a few days away.
"I could field now," he said. "If I had to beat Dee [Gordon[ to first base from the mound, Dee would beat me. If it was A.J. Ellis, I still might not, but I'd probably beat him."
Puig excused to tend to personal matter
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was excused Saturday to leave camp and attend to a personal matter, according to manager Don Mattingly.
Puig is expected to return and be in the lineup on Sunday.
Puig, who hit .517 with three homers and 11 RBIs in 27 Cactus League games last Spring, is batting .176 with no homers and three RBIs in seven games this spring.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.