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Dioner Navarro has side muscle strain; Tim Redding removed from start with back pain

Status of Redding, a candidate to be the fifth starter in the rotation, is unclear. Backup catcher Navarro appears unlikely to be ready for start of season.

March 25, 2011|By Dylan Hernandez and Bill Shaikin
  • Dodgers catcher Dioner Navarro will miss opening day after an MRI exam revealed he has a muscle strain.
Dodgers catcher Dioner Navarro will miss opening day after an MRI exam revealed… (Kyle Terada / U.S. Presswire )

Reporting from Tucson — The final days of spring training have been the most dangerous for the Dodgers.

Relatively healthy for most of camp, the Dodgers received news Friday that the MRI exam backup catcher Dioner Navarro underwent the previous day showed his side muscle was strained. Later, fifth starter candidate Tim Redding had to be removed from an exhibition game because of lower back pain.

Navarro's injury is similar to what put down the Dodgers' original fifth starter, Jon Garland, on March 9.

Garland has started throwing but is expected to start the season on the disabled list.

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Asked when Navarro could return, Manager Don Mattingly replied, "I'm assuming the Garland thing."

Replacing Navarro on the opening-day roster will be either Hector Gimenez or A.J. Ellis. If Garland and Redding aren't back when the fifth spot in the rotation comes up on April 12, the Dodgers would likely turn to second-year right-hander John Ely.

Of the two catchers, Gimenez is considered the superior hitter — so much so that the Dodgers played him at first base and left field this spring to find ways to get him on the roster. But Ellis has an edge on defense, as he has experience catching most of the Dodgers' staff.

Gimenez, who is hitting .300 with three home runs, is 28 and has appeared in only two major league games, both in 2006.

"It's been tough," Gimenez said. "But I've never stopped working hard; I never put my head down. I always stayed positive. I know that if I stay positive, something good will happen."

Gimenez said he is used to the grind of baseball because he moved out of his parents' house when he was 14 to enroll in a baseball academy in his native Venezuela.

"I learned how to live," he said.

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Ellis, who spent most of last season in the majors, acknowledged he was frustrated when the Dodgers signed Navarro to back up Rod Barajas.

He said the negative thoughts hurt him early in camp.

"I have to focus on what I can do," Ellis said.

The deciding factor could be that Ellis has minor league options remaining and Gimenez doesn't. That means that if the Dodgers send him to the minors, he could be claimed off waivers by another team.

McCourt mum on ownership situation

Frank McCourt met with reporters for the first time since spring training opened, but declined to comment on the Dodgers' uncertain ownership situation.

McCourt had not seen the Dodgers play this spring until Friday's charity game to benefit victims of the Jan. 8 shootings in Tucson. He specifically declined to explain how he could be so confident he would retain sole ownership of the team amid significant legal and financial hurdles.

"I'm not going to get into any details at all," he said. "To me, it would be hugely disrespectful for us to shift gears today when we're here . . . to play a baseball game and raise funds in the memory of the victims and for the families and the community. To start talking about my personal situation would be very much the wrong thing to do today."

McCourt said he would address the ownership situation at a later date.

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