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This double play was a good thing for Manny Ramirez

DODGERS

He gets a chance to test his hamstring after hitting into a double play during 10-4 exhibition loss to Angels.

March 24, 2009|Dylan Hernandez

TEMPE, ARIZ. — Manny Ramirez struck out twice Monday in his first game in a week, but he found a reason to be optimistic about his 0-for-3 day as the Dodgers' designated hitter:

He grounded into a double play.

His first-pitch grounder to Chone Figgins in the third inning of the Dodgers' 10-4 loss to the Angels gave him a chance to test the left hamstring that had him sidelined.

"I ran only one time, but it felt fine," Ramirez said, laughing.

While Ramirez's run down the first base line might have eased some of Manager Joe Torre's concerns, Chad Billingsley might have raised some new ones with his early exit.

Billingsley pitched only two innings before he was removed from the game for precautionary reasons because of tightness in his groin.

He said he could have continued to pitch but also indicated he would be careful about when he would come back.

"I have to get ready for April, not my next start," said Billingsley, who was pounded for four hits and four runs.

Billingsley had a similar problem early in camp last year that Torre said might have disrupted his rhythm.

"Groins are the most frightening, for me, with a pitcher because you don't really know until you go out there and compete," Torre said.

"It's a scary time of the year -- so close to the end [of spring training], that's the problem."

Mark Loretta also felt tightness in his groin and exited the game in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Ramirez saw only eight pitches. He struck out looking on three pitches by Dustin Moseley in the first, and Moseley got him again in the fifth on four pitches.

"He was just taking pitches, it looked like, to take pitches," Torre said.

Ramirez said he expected to play again tonight when the Dodgers play host to Seattle at Camelback Ranch.

He said he wanted at least one more game as a designated hitter before playing left field.

"I want to take it step by step," he said. "We don't want to rush it."

Making a pitch

Torre said he may fill a spot on the opening-day roster with right-hander Josh Lindblom, a late addition to the Dodgers' major league camp.

Lindblom, 21, who was selected in the second round of the draft last year, noted that Blake DeWitt made the 2008 opening-day roster even though he started the spring in minor league camp.

"That's definitely in the back of your mind," said Lindblom, who has four shutout innings in two spring appearances and is expected to pitch again tonight.

Lindblom's bid to make the team could be compromised by the Dodgers' plans for him. A closer at Purdue, he is being evaluated this spring as a reliever. But he was moved into a starting role upon being drafted and the Dodgers see him as a future member of their rotation.

Short hops

Jonathan Broxton, who was part of the U.S. team that was eliminated from the World Baseball Classic on Sunday, is expected back in camp today. Because Broxton made only four appearances in the tournament, Torre said it would be important for him to get some game action. . . . Shawn Estes accepted a reassignment to minor league camp instead of requesting his release. The former All-Star will attempt to become a left-handed relief specialist. . . . Former longtime pitcher Don Newcombe was promoted from community relations to special advisor to owner Frank McCourt.

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dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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