FORT MYERS, FLA. — Wilson Valdez has done the math and he knows great numbers in the spring don't always add up to a major league job come summer.
Consider last year, when he hit .517 and drove in 10 runs in 18 exhibition games with the Kansas City Royals. That should have been good enough to win a roster spot, but when camp broke not only wasn't Valdez in the big leagues, he wasn't even in the same organization, having been traded to the Dodgers.
So you'll pardon Valdez if he wasn't exactly celebrating after raising his average to .500 with a home run and a run-scoring double in the Dodgers' 7-4 Grapefruit League win over the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday.
"Last year I was in the same situation. I had a great spring but nothing happened," the reserve infielder said. "[The Dodgers] told me I've got a good chance to make the team. But I don't have that in my mind."
Good thinking, because the Dodgers may have been fudging a bit. Valdez is out of options, meaning he can't be sent to the minors without first clearing waivers. But he's also a longshot to stick on the big league roster, so his productive spring may wind up being little more than the prelude to another March trade. He wasn't even in the starting lineup Tuesday until second baseman Damian Jackson was scratched just before game time because of an upset stomach.
"Valdez, he's all over the place and he's done a good job," Manager Grady Little said. "He's done just about everything we've asked."
Rookie shortstop Chin-Lung Hu, the probable starter at triple-A Las Vegas this year, also had a big day with three hits, and Andre Ethier and Ramon Martinez each had two-run singles.
Left-hander Mark Hendrickson thrust himself into the middle of the competition for the final spot in the rotation with a solid effort against the Twins, striking out three in two innings. That followed a shaky performance in his first spring game last week when he gave up seven runs in 1 2/3 innings.
"Today it was nice. My command was a lot better," said Hendrickson, who did not walk a batter in a 33-pitch outing. "I was finishing pitches a lot better. I take a lot of positives out of this."
The Dodgers have at least six pitchers vying for the fifth spot in the rotation, including veterans Brett Tomko and Joe Mays, right-hander Chad Billingsley, left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo and rookie Eric Stults, who pitches tonight against the Florida Marlins.
"You're always looking for competition," pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said. "It just makes everybody better when you compete."
Jason Schmidt also looked good in his second spring start, giving up a run and two hits but striking out three in two innings. Both Schmidt and Hendrickson will be extended to three innings in their next outings.
Left-hander Joe Beimel went through his normal workout routine in Vero Beach on Tuesday, a day after experiencing elbow irritation following a one-inning stint against the Boston Red Sox. Beimel had his elbow checked out late Monday and again Tuesday morning, then went out and played catch without pain. ... Shortstop Rafael Furcal, sidelined by a sore right shoulder since last week's Grapefruit League opener, has started swinging a bat and could return to the lineup by the weekend, probably as a designated hitter.