Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp says he wants to make sure he doesn't… (Jake Roth / U.S. Presswire )
Reporting from Phoenix — On the day players report to spring training, almost everyone says he's in the best shape of his life.
With 10 days remaining in the Dodgers' Arizona camp, Matt Kemp is part of shrinking group of players who can still make that claim.
"I'm getting skinny, man," he said, grinning.
A target of scrutiny last year because of his clashes with coaches and frequent appearances in the tabloids, Kemp drew praise from Manager Don Mattingly on Thursday for what appears to be a sharpened focus.
"He seems great," Mattingly said. "I shouldn't say 'seems,' because he's been great."
Dodgers' Jamey Carroll prepares for a variety of roles
Mattingly said he's particularly pleased with the extra work Kemp has put in with first base coach Davey Lopes and hitting coach Jeff Pentland.
"It's spring training," Kemp said. "You have to do extra work."
Kemp hit his team-leading third home run of the spring in the Dodgers' 6-4 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Camelback Ranch and increased his spring average to .316. He's driven in nine runs and stolen three bases.
Kemp said he's trying to make amends for last season, when he regressed in virtually every facet of the game.
"Last year was a very disappointing season, personally and team-wise," he said. "I felt like I failed in some way. This year, I'm going to try to make sure that doesn't happen again, that we get back to the playoffs and get to where we should be."
Gibbons' vision problems fixed
Jay Gibbons returned to the lineup wearing new contact lenses and said he noticed the difference immediately.
"Night and day," he said. "Night and day."
Gibbons, who was 2 for 22 heading into Thursday, singled to center in his first at-bat.
"It was the first pitch I was able to lock in on this spring," he said.
Projected to be part of platoon in left field, Gibbons left camp this week to get his eyes checked.
He went to San Francisco knowing that his contacts were the wrong size because of how frequently they popped out. He said he was told by the doctor that there was another problem with his lenses: The prescription was wrong.
Mattingly acknowledged that he can't consider Gibbons a lock to make the opening-day roster until he is certain that his vision problems are behind him. Because only $400,000 of Gibbons' $650,000 salary is guaranteed, the Dodgers can cut him without making a significant financial sacrifice.
Gibbons said he feels that he has to make a positive impression in the last couple of weeks of spring training.
"For myself and for the team," he said. "I have to show I have some baseball ability in the next 10 days."
The Dodgers are teaming with TravelZoo.com to significantly discount tickets for their exhibition games on March 28 against the Angels and March 30 against the Seattle Mariners.
Through the use of the promotional code TZOO at Dodgers.com, $100 infield box seats can be purchased for $29; $70 preferred field box, $60 infield loge box and $50 preferred field box seats for $19; and $30 preferred loge box, $30 infield reserve and $22 lower reserve seats for $9.
For more information, visit http://www.travelzoo.com/local-deals/deal/1146.
Jamey Carroll (finger) will be given a couple of days off. He doesn't have any trouble hitting but feel something when throwing. … Casey Blake received an anti-inflammatory injection Wednesday. … Jerry Sands, the Dodgers' reigning minor league player of the year, was reassigned to minor league camp. Sands hit .364 with two home runs and five runs batted in 22 Cactus League at-bats. Infielder Justin Sellers was also reassigned.