LAD@KC: Matt Kemp lifts a sacrifice fly to right

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp is batting .171 with Opening Day one week away, but after Monday's 8-2 loss to the Royals, manager Don Mattingly said, "I'm OK with Matt."

"He's got bat speed," Mattingly said of Kemp, who is coming off shoulder surgery. "He's frustrated because he wants to get hits all the time. What I like is that he wants his hits, he's feeling good enough, that intensity is there. Mentally he's ready, and physically he looks ready."

Kemp has one home run and six RBIs after going 0-for-3 with a sacrifice fly Monday night.

 

Mattingly earns first spring ejection

LAD@KC: Mattingly's first Spring Training ejection

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was ejected from Monday night's 8-2 loss to the Royals by plate umpire A.J. Johnson.

Johnson ruled strike three on a Matt Kemp check swing to end the top of the seventh inning and Mattingly came out to question why Johnson didn't check with first-base umpire Alan Porter.

"Really, I wasn't even mad," said Mattingly. "You think he might want to check. It wasn't so obvious that he didn't need to check. He told me I was arguing balls and strikes. I said, 'What are you going to do? Throw me out of a bleeping Spring Training game?' And he did."

Johnson is a Minor League umpire.

Greinke plans to start season on time

Dodgers thrilled to have Greinke on their team

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Dodgers starting pitcher Zack Greinke Monday night said his right elbow felt fine after pitching in his first Major League exhibition game since March 1 and he should be ready to start the season on time.

"I should be. I think so," he said. "I'll definitely be there, if I can build up endurance. I need some improvement."

Manager Don Mattingly agreed that Greinke has enough time to be ready to start the season active, with the Monday night start "a good outing for Zack to see Major League hitters, to see where he's at and where he needs to go."

Greinke wasn't happy with a 64-pitch outing against his former club, the Kansas City Royals, that opened with the first two batters he faced singling and scoring and the last three batters he faced walking and scoring after he was lifted with the bases loaded and no outs in the fourth inning.

"I felt strong, but obviously not if I'm walking three in a row. That's not normal if I'm feeling good," said Greinke, whose first Dodgers Spring Training was interrupted by the flu, then inflammation in the back of his right elbow that required an injection and cost him much of the month. "I thought I felt good, but the results didn't imply that."

Now Greinke is in catch-up mode to build sufficient stamina to be ready for the regular season. He allowed nine baserunners and five runs. His next start is Saturday's Freeway Series finale, which puts him in line to start the fourth game of the season on April 5 if he's ready.

"My offspeed was bad today," he said. "My fastball was OK [90-94 mph]. There's a lot that needs to be improved. My fastball wasn't great, the offspeed was below OK. The changeup was good. That's one positive. The main thing was the offspeed was so bad, they didn't have to worry about it. I can't get a real judge on the fastball because there was nothing else to worry about.

"This tells me I've got some work to do to build up arm strength and fine-tune the offspeed stuff. If my arm strength is there, I can make it work."

Greinke pitched in a Minor League game five days earlier and said he could tell the difference in the opposition.

"Everything is different," he said. "Even the Minor guys that had been in the big leagues had a presence about them."

Scouts evaluate Capuano as LA dangles starters

Outlook: Capuano's role as starter in question in 201

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Scouts from Seattle, Pittsburgh, Texas and Cleveland trekked to a back field on Monday to watch Chris Capuano pitch seven scoreless innings in a Minor League game as the Dodgers step up efforts to move a surplus pitcher.

Barring a late injury or a setback to Zack Greinke or Chad Billingsley, the Dodgers can move any combination of veterans Capuano, Ted Lilly, Aaron Harang and Matt Guerrier. Many of those same scouts will be watching Harang when he starts Tuesday night.

A trade would make it possible for the Dodgers to keep non-roster reliever Kevin Gregg, who has allowed one run in nine innings and has more career saves (144) than the rest of the relievers in camp combined.

Lilly would be the hardest to trade of the three starters. He is 37, coming off shoulder surgery and has a $12 million salary.

Harang is 34, earns $5 million this year with a mutual option for 2014 for $8 million or a $2 million buyout. He went 10-10 with a 3.61 ERA last year. Capuano is 34, left-handed and earns $6 million in 2013 with a mutual option for 2014 for $8 million or a $1 million buyout. He went 12-12 with a 3.72 ERA last year.

Capuano allowed only three hits and struck out 11 while making 85 pitches in the Minor League game. He said he hasn't been told when or where he would pitch next, but he's happy that his last two outings have been "really good" mechanically and by results.

He said he's "curious" about how the Dodgers' pitching surplus will work out, but he hasn't worried about it.

"All my career, I've just worried about myself and let things play out," Capuano said.

Billingsley is optimistic he will start April 2

TEX@LAD: Billingsley retires nine straight batters

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chad Billingsley said he was optimistic about starting the second game of the year for the Dodgers after throwing what he called a "normal" bullpen session on Monday, including seven curveballs.

Billingsley said his bruised right index finger passed that test and he was pleased with the quality of his pitches.

"I'm good. Everything felt fine," Billingsley said. "The fingernail held up, no issues. It's not really tender. I was a little surprised. It's been a week and a half."

Manager Don Mattingly indicated Billingsley would get the ball April 2 against the Giants, and not Hyun-Jin Ryu, but only if Billingsley has all of his weapons, including a curveball he hadn't thrown since his last exhibition start on March 13. Two days later while bunting in batting practice, a pitch pinned Billingsley's index finger against the bat, just below the fingernail.

Billingsley has maintained his throwing regimen, even pitching 4 2/3 innings of a Minor League game on Saturday without curveballs because of the discomfort and chance that his fingernail would dislodge and put him on the disabled list.

Billingsley is in line to pitch somewhere on Thursday, when the Dodgers have split-squad games against the Angels in Anaheim and against their Class A team at Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. But if Billingsley pitches in either, it would prevent the Dodgers from back-dating his placement on the disabled list if necessary.

So he might just pitch a simulated game, at which time Mattingly said he would need to show he can throw curveballs to Major League hitters.

"It's not only throwing them pain-free," said Mattingly. "It's also how they look. There's a little concern. It could go either way."

If Billingsley can't start April 2, Ryu would. If Billingsley does start that game, Mattingly has indicated Ryu would be inserted into the rotation by April 13.