Mattingly Figures to Increase Camp Intensity

The Dodgers were busy this offseason, revamping their rotation and bullpen, but their ability to return to the playoffs will largely depend on bounce-back seasons from their core of no longer young players. Along those lines, attitude will be the buzzword around rookie manager Don Mattingly's first training camp as the team leader.

Mattingly was actually the acting manager a year ago as Joe Torre handed over the lineup card to his hand-picked successor. Now he gets to set up the camp and run it exactly how he sees fit.

Torre's laid-back approach, an asset with veteran Yankees teams that routinely made the playoffs, was in retrospect too laid back for a Dodgers team that lacked a win-now urgency and intensity -- or so say some fans and even members of management.

Since emotions and motivations are subjective and can't be proved, expect that sentiment to almost become accepted as fact.

Keep in mind that the Dodgers' 2009 training camp was just as laid back as 2010, and they reached the National League Championship Series. The 2008 camp was divided between saying goodbye to Vero Beach, Fla., taking a trip to China, a week in Arizona, and even an exhibition game at the Los Angeles Coliseum -- and they reached the NLCS that year, too.

Nonetheless, the presence of Mattingly will change things. His youth and energy will be different than Torre. He won't come close to spending a good 30-45 minutes a day sipping coffee and entertaining reporters in a golf cart. He won't watch workouts from that golf cart, like a CEO overseeing a company. Mattingly will be much more hands-on. It's doubtful he'll run training camp like a drill sergeant or NFL coach. The pace of workouts and drills will be interesting to see, but the nature of baseball (and the sheer volume of players) still dictates lots of standing around.

As for actual roster decisions, there are three areas to watch.

1. The bullpen has 10 options for seven spots. Jonathan Broxton, Hong-Chih Kuo, Matt Guerrier and Vicente Padilla are locks. Kenley Jansen and Blake Hawksworth should be locks. The leaves Ronald Belisario, Ramon Troncoso, Ron Mahay and Scott Elbert for the final spot.

2. The sixth and final infield spot is a five-way competition among Aaron Miles, Ivan DeJesus, Jr., Russ Mitchell, John Lindsay and Juan Castro. In theory, the Dodgers could keep five infielders because outfielder Jay Gibbons can play first base.

3. Left field will be a platoon between Jay Gibbons and Marcus Thames unless Tony Gwynn hits enough to force his way into more playing time as a starter. Gwynn will enter games frequently in the late innings for defense. Xavier Paul and Jamie Hoffmann need an injury to crack the lineup or must overwhelm team officials to beat out Gwynn.

NOTES, QUOTES
--RHP Ronald Belisario applied for a visa on time this year and doesn't have any pending trials that would affect him arriving to spring training on time. However, after arriving late two straight years, including more than a month tardy last year, team officials still don't know if Belisario will arrive with his teammates on time. Indications are that he will be a no=show, at least earlier in the year, and that cuts down his chances of making the team decrease dramatically.

--1B James Loney avoided arbitration by agreeing with the Dodgers on a one-year contract for $4.875 million. The amount is much closer to the $4.7 million the club offered than the $5.25 figure that Loney's representatives filed. His hearing was scheduled for Feb. 18 in Phoenix. Loney made $3.1 million a year ago. All the Dodgers players eligible for salary arbitration are now signed. Since assistant general manager Kim Ng arrived from the Yankees in 2002, she has gone to arbitration only twice, beating Cy Young winner Eric Gagne in 2004 and reliever Joe Beimel in 2007.

--INF Aaron Miles was signed to a minor league deal after Eric Chavez chose to sign a minor league deal with the Yankees instead of the Dodgers. Miles finished fourth in Rookie of the Year voting as a Rockie in 2004 and won a World Series with the Cardinals in 2006. His slash line was .281/.311/.317 last year with St. Louis, playing mostly second base and a little at shortstop and third base.

--OF Marcus Thames doesn't have a uniform number assigned to him yet. Among the new players, here are their numbers: Tony Gwynn (10), Dioner Navarro (30), Jon Garland (21), Matt Guerrier (55) and Blake Hawksworth (36).

--RHP Jon Link, who was acquired in the Juan Pierre trade the previous offseason and rode the Los Angeles-to-Albuquerque shuttle all year, will be stretched out as a starting pitcher in training camp. He could still end up in the bullpen, but the team is intrigued to see if his stuff will translate to get hitters out 3-4 times through the lineup.

--Fernando Valenzuela, the beloved former Dodgers pitcher turned Spanish Radio analyst, will be inducted into the 2011 class of the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame in the Dominican Republic.

--The Dodgers made a last-minute addition to their spring-training roster -- and to the competition for what probably will be only one open bullpen spot -- by signing veteran right-hander Lance Cormier to a minor league contract on Wednesday and inviting him to big league camp. Cormier, 30, has spent seven seasons in the majors, the past two with Tampa Bay, for whom he posted a 3.92 ERA in 60 appearances last season. He allowed 68 hits in 62 innings and walked more batters (34) than he struck out (30).

BY THE NUMBERS: 18 -- Non-roster players invited to training camp. Many of those have major league experience: pitchers Dana Eveland, Tim Redding, and Oscar Villarreal; catcher JD Closser; infielders Juan Castro and Aaron Miles; and outfielders Gabe Kapler, Trent Oeltjen and Eugenio Velez.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "His playing time at this point will be dictated by how well he hits. If he can get on base enough and hit enough, he could give us added flexibility because he can play all three spots, including center field." -- General manager Ned Colletti, on outfielder Tony Gwynn, who hit .204/.304/.287 in 289 at-bats last year. That's not enough. Gwynn hit .270/.350/.344 in 2009, and that could be (just barely) enough if his defense remains at an elite level.

ROSTER REPORT
The Dodgers' days of throwing money at the best free agents appear to be over, and there's very little help at the upper levels of the minor leagues ready to contribute.

ARRIVALS: RHP Matt Guerrier (free agent from Twins), INF Juan Uribe (free agent from Giants), RHP Blake Hawksworth (trade with Cardinals), RHP Jon Garland (free agent from Padres), C Dioner Navarro (free agent from Rays), OF Tony Gwynn (free agent from Padres), OF Marcus Thames (free agent from Yankees), OF Gabe Kapler (free agent from Rays), RHP Mike MacDougal (minor league free agent from Cardinals), LHP Ron Mahay (minor league free agent from Twins), INF Aaron Miles (minor league free agent from Cardinals).

DEPARTURES: C Russell Martin (free agent, signed with Yankees), LHP George Sherrill (free agent, signed with Braves), INF Ryan Theriot (traded to Cardinals), INF Chin-Lung Hu (traded to Mets), C Brad Ausmus (retired), OF Reed Johnson (free agent, signed minor league deal with Cubs), INF Ronnie Belliard (free agent, signed minor league deal with Yankees).

   PROJECTED ROTATION:
   1. LHP Clayton Kershaw
   2. RHP Chad Billingsley
   3. LHP Ted Lilly
   4. RHP Hiroki Kuroda
   5. RHP Jon Garland
This will be the first time the Dodgers have five set starters entering the season since general manager Ned Colletti took over. If anybody gets hurt, RHP Vicente Padilla can slide back to the rotation from the bullpen. While the rotation doesn't have the star power of the Phillies or Giants, having six proven starters gives the Dodgers more depth than any other rotation in the division.

Kershaw is poised to join the upper echelon of elite starters and compete for Cy Young awards. He will also will get the ball for the season opener on March 31 against the Giants. manager Don Mattingly announced. This will be Kershaw's first career Opening Day assignment. Last year's Opening Day starter, Vicente Padilla, is expected to begin the season in the bullpen. Kuroda drew the assignment two years ago.

   PROJECTED BULLPEN:
   RHP Jonathan Broxton (closer)
   LHP Hong-Chih Kuo
   RHP Matt Guerrier
   RHP Kenley Jansen
   RHP Vicente Padilla
   RHP Blake Hawksworth
   RHP Ronald Belisario
Three more relievers will be in competition for jobs: RHP Ramon Troncoso, LHP Scott Elbert and LHP Ron Mahay (signed to a minor league deal). Like the rotation, Colletti has assembled lots of depth to force a competition for jobs and insurance against injuries. Belisario and Troncoso were both excellent in 2009 yet struggled in 2010, forcing them to earn their way back onto the team.

Of course, a bullpen is only as good as its closer. Broxton will be on a short leash to retain the job after a disastrous second half. If he falters, Kuo gets first crack at the job, and he excelled last year. Considering his injury history, there's never a guarantee Kuo is even available. Padilla's stuff could make him a potential closer. The long-term closer is Jansen, entering his first full year in the majors.

   PROJECTED LINEUP:
   1. SS Rafael Furcal
   2. 1B James Loney
   3. CF Matt Kemp
   4. RF Andre Ethier
   5. 2B Juan Uribe
   6. LF Jay Gibbons/Marcus Thames
   7. 3B Casey Blake
   8. C Rod Barajas
Since rookie manager Don Mattingly is new on the job, it's not clear how he will stack his lineup. There's no traditional No. 2 hitter available, although those "traditional" No. 2 hitters have been obsolete since the 1980s. Kemp and Ethier have always hit their best from the No. 2 spot, but that's probably based on a small sample size. Mattingly has mentioned that Blake could hit second.

Loney rarely has hit second, but he's a good candidate because he doesn't strike out a lot, draws a good number of walks and isn't the power hitter usually sought for the 3-5 spots in the lineup When Jamey Carroll spells Blake at third base, he's a logical No. 2 hitter. Regardless of where they hit, the success of this lineup (and this year's team) will be based on how much Loney, Kemp and Ethier hit.

TOP ROOKIES: INF Ivan DeJesus Jr. has an opportunity to win a job as a backup infielder. He has played mostly shortstop in the minors but profiles as more of a second baseman in the majors. OF Jerry Sands is the left fielder in the future, and the reason Colletti didn't sign a more proven left fielder is because he didn't want to block Sands' path -- or that of fellow outfielder Trayvon Robinson. Both will begin the season at Triple-A Albuquerque and have a projected arrival time of mid-2011 or early 2012.

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