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Dodgers' Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford won't play in exhibition opener

Dodgers FYI

Manager Don Mattingly says he doesn't expect the rehabilitating outfielders to play in Cactus League games until early March. The Dodgers open their exhibition season Saturday.

February 22, 2013|By Dylan Hernandez
  • Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford aren't expected to play in Cactus League games until early next month.
Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford aren't expected to play in Cactus League… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

PHOENIX — Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford won't be in the lineup Saturday when the Dodgers open their exhibition season against the Chicago White Sox.

And they won't be in the lineup Sunday, either.

Manager Don Mattingly said he doesn't expect the rehabilitating outfielders to play in Cactus League games until early next month.

Kemp is recovering from a major shoulder operation and Crawford from reconstructive elbow surgery. Kemp is working out with no restrictions, whereas Crawford is slowly strengthening his throwing arm.

Both players are expected to be in the Dodgers' opening-day lineup.

Though the Dodgers think Kemp and Crawford could return around March 1, Mattingly emphasized he wouldn't rush either player.

"I really want to play Matt when he's ready to play," Mattingly said. "I'd rather let this guy get ready to go. Same with Carl."

When Kemp and Crawford start playing, they will probably be designated hitters.

"Just to get their feet wet and back in the game," Mattingly said.

Kemp said he is fine with however Mattingly decides to use him.

"Spring training is to get ready for the season," Kemp said.

Mattingly said he also doesn't view the regular-season opener as a hard deadline. Of Crawford in particular, he said, "If he's not comfortable and it's April 1, then I'd rather it be April 5 or April 10. I don't want to force it opening day."

With Kemp and Crawford out of the lineup, Skip Schumaker is expected to be in center field with Jerry Hairston Jr. in left.

Hardworking Hanley

Hanley Ramirez is expected to be the Dodgers' starting shortstop Saturday.

But Ramirez will leave camp in the first week of March to participate in the World Baseball Classic. The tournament final is scheduled for March 19, meaning Ramirez could spend more than two weeks as a designated hitter for the Dominican Republic.

The situation isn't ideal for the Dodgers, who are moving Ramirez back to shortstop full time after he played third base for most of last season.

However, third base coach Tim Wallach's concerns about Ramirez's departure have been lessened by what he's seen from the four-time All-Star in their morning workouts. On most days, at 8:30 a.m., Wallach has conducted fielding practice for a group of infielders, including Ramirez.

"He's been working really hard," Wallach said. "I'm very happy with the way he handles his business, who he is, how he approaches things."

So much so that Wallach is certain Ramirez will continue working on his defense while he's at the WBC. Wallach said he plans to speak in the near future with former Dodgers infielder Alfredo Griffin, who will be a coach on the team.

Wallach also has no doubts that Ramirez can handle the position.

"He's a tremendous athlete," Wallach said. "It was a matter of resetting that clock. You just don't have as much time there. You have a lot more to do and not as much time to do it."

Ramirez said he felt compelled to play for his home country. The Dominican Republic has secured commitments from most of its top players, unlike the United States.

"Down in the Dominican, it's all about baseball," Ramirez said. "Everywhere you go, everybody knows everything you do. Everywhere you go, everybody's talking about baseball."

Garvey in recovery

Former Dodgers first baseman Steve Garvey says he is battling prostate cancer. Garvey, 64, said he had his prostate removed at the UCLA Medical Center on Oct. 22 and that his most recent blood test indicated he was cancer-free.

"You want to be very cautiously optimistic," Garvey said by phone Friday.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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