Mattingley's Reign Starts With Two Losses

Ernie Bank's "It's a great day, let's play two" not withstanding, the Dodgers lost 3-1 (Angel's) and 8-3 (Giants) on the opening day of the 2011 Spring Training schedule. They pecked out 18 hits, 13 of them singles and two of the brightest young pitchers, Rubby De La Rosa and Carlos Monasterios took the losses.

The split squad contained a number of names that will never see the light of day in a Los Angeles uniform after the spring scrimmages are over.

The important thing for the casual Dodger fans to remember is that exhibition games are just that, exhibitions, and winning is well down the list of expectations. Oh, they would prefer to win all of the games, but the reality is that it is much more important to take a good, long look at the youngsters and that the regular ease into playing shape without mishap.

Last spring catcher Russell Martin made an ill-advised head-first slide into second base in one of the very early games and the resulting injury was the precursor of his final season in Dodger Blue and perhaps the key to the Los Angeles slide out of contention.

The Dodgers 18 hits (three against the Angeles), was a reminder of last season when they either got few hits or when they did collect a goodly number, they left most of them on base (14 left on base against the Giants).

Picking lightly amongst the rubble, Matt Kemp looked like the real Matt Kemp, at least in his first at-bat in the Angels game. He singled, stole second, moved to third on a ground ball and scored on Russell Mitchell's fly ball.

Mitchell is a dark horse in the search for a utility man. He can play the corners and the outfield, displayed a solid bat for the Isotopes last summer and is a hard-nosed, blue-collar type.

He will battle, among a host of others, Ivan De Jesus, who has demonstrated his talent to play the middle infield positions and has been working out at third base.

Kemp's temporary heroics started and ended the Dodgers offensive attack against Mike Scioscia's minions. The lineup collected only two more hits; singles by Hector Gimanez in the seventh and Orlando Mercado in the ninth ran the total to three hits.

Starter Hiroki Kuroda worked two scoreless innings, allowing no runs and a single hit. Rubby De La Rosa, he of the 103-mph heater, was tapped for two hits and two runs in two innings and took the loss.

Lance Cormier, Scott Elbert, Roman Colon and Luis Vasquez each added a hitless and scoreless inning. Elbert walked two and struck out two in his debut after leaving the game at the mid-point last season for an undisclosed "personal" reason.

Tim Redding drew the start against the Giants and allowed two hits and no runs in two innings. Again the Dodgers jumped into a 1-0 lead, this time in the first, on a James Loney single, Marcus Thames' double and Gabe Kapler's single.

Loney is revamping his swing this spring under the watchful eye of the club's batting coaches. The feeling is that he can develop more power and become a better hitter under the new system.

The game came apart quickly in the third inning when Carlos Monasterios was tagged for five hits and four runs, followed by Oscar Villarreal who served up four hits and four more runs.

Four more pitchers followed; Jon Huber, Wilkin De La Rosa (no relation to Rubby), Francisco Felix one of 11 minor leaguers invited for the day, and Luis Valdez who combined for four hitless and scoreless innings but the hay was in the barn by then.

The Dodgers banged out 15 hits by 15 different players, including doubles by Thames, Trayvon Robinson and Cory Smith, plus 13 other individuals, including Jamey Carroll, Dee Gordon, Rod Barajas, Tony Delmonico, Xavier Paul, Brian Cavazos-Galvez, Kyle Russell, De Jesus, and Aaron Miles.

The Dodgers have another go at the Angeles in Camelback today, with John Ely drawing the start for the guys in the White Hats. Blake Hawksworth, Mike MacConald, Ramon Troncoso, Kenley Jansen and Jon Link are scheduled to follow.