SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. — Unlike a certain someone who refused to admit a couple of years ago that hitting in front of Manny Ramirez made a difference, Matt Kemp had no problem saying that he would likely benefit from his new place in the lineup.
"You got 'Dre behind me, so they're probably going to pitch to me because they don't want to see him," Kemp said.
Standing in front of an adjacent locker stall, Andre Ethier leaned over to cut in.
"Yeah, now that I got a hit they don't want to see me," said Ethier, who collected his first hit of the spring that day.
Kemp, who batted seventh on opening day last year and in several other spots during the season, including No. 8, has hit second in each of the Dodgers' first three games.
Batting behind leadoff hitter Rafael Furcal and in front of Ethier and No. 4 hitter Manny Ramirez, Kemp belted the club's first home run of the exhibition season on Monday, sending a pitch from Barry Zito over the right-field fence at Scottsdale Stadium in a 3-2, 10-inning loss to the San Francisco Giants.
Told that he might have been the greatest No. 8 hitter of all time, Kemp laughed and said, "I was. But I definitely like hitting second better than I do hitting eighth or ninth."
Manager Joe Torre said he won't necessarily use the same lineup during the regular season, but acknowledged that Kemp could be a fit for the second spot.
"He should get pitches to hit," Torre said. "Plus, the speed he has can cause some commotion."
Billingsleymakes first start
Of his laborious 39-pitch spring debut, right-hander Chad Billingsley joked, "I just wanted to get all my pitches in so I wouldn't have to go to the bullpen for extra work."
The first three hitters Billingsley faced reached base and he ended the day having given up one run, three hits and two walks in two innings.
Billingsley said it was too early to tell whether he is making progress toward fixing the issues that hindered him in the second half of last season.
"Spring training, you're just working on things," he said. " Aaron Rowand, the first at-bat, I threw a 3-2 changeup. I don't think I've ever thrown a 3-2 changeup, especially to a right-handed hitter."
Blake exits early
Casey Blake played only two innings, as he was taken out of the game because of discomfort in his right side. Blake said he felt a twinge when he had to sidearm a ball to third base after fielding a bunt down the third-base line in the second inning.
"I don't think it's real serious but being March. 8, I didn't want to take any chances," Blake said. "Plus, I'm an old man." Blake turns 37 in August.
Cory Wade received a cortisone injection in his throwing shoulder on Saturday and is expected to be out for two weeks.
San Francisco 3,
AT THE PLATE: Matt Kemp hit the Dodgers' first home run of the spring, taking Barry Zito deep in the first inning. Blake DeWitt went two for two with a double. Angel Berroa, who is auditioning for a utility role, went two for four.
ON THE MOUND: Chad Billingsley gave up a run in two innings, as did Clayton Kershaw, whose start on Sunday was rained out. Fifth starter candidates Josh Towers and Carlos Monasterios each pitched two scoreless innings.
EXTRA BASES: In a "B" game at Camelback Ranch against the Chicago White Sox earlier in the day, pitching prospect Josh Lindblom gave up one hit in two scoreless innings.
UP NEXT: Right-hander Hiroki Kuroda will start Tuesday's noon game (PST) against the Rockies at Camelback Ranch.
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