Dodgers spring training 2013: Starting rotation to become clearer soon

USA TODAY Sports

Eight starters for five spots? With fewer and fewer innings to go around, the starting rotation will become clearer in the coming days.

The Dodgers send Clayton Kershaw to the mound on Sunday as they battle the Rockies at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale. The left-hander is expected to be stretched to five innings or roughly 75 pitches on Sunday, and as the starters continue to build up their innings and pitch counts the numbers crunch will become even greater.

The Dodgers have relief pitchers Mark Lowe, Peter Moylan, and Josh Wall scheduled to follow Kershaw on Sunday, but those might be the only innings thrown by Dodgers relievers in Cactus League play until Thursday.

Zack Greinke starts against the Brewers on Monday, expected to throw roughly four innings or 60 pitches, and will be followed by Hyun-jin Ryu, who is up to limits of five innings and 75 pitches. on Tuesday against the Reds, Josh Beckett will start and will be followed by Ted Lilly. On Wednesday the Dodgers are off, but Chad Billingsley will throw five innings or 75 pitches in a simulated game against minor leaguers on the back fields at Camelback Ranch.

After this time through the order, the starters will begin to pitch even more innings and won't be able to pitch in the same games. For instance, manager Don Mattingly said he would break up Greinke and Ryu after Monday.

For a team with eight starters under contract fighting for five spots, the three on the outside of the rotation looking in will likely have to pitch in minor league or simulated games to get their innings. The plan for the rotation will also likely become more clear depending on how the starters are deployed the next time through.

"We'll still be trying to build up eight guys, but it's harder to do in games here," Mattingly said. "If everybody is healthy, then there are some tough decisions to make."

Lilly has pitched the least of the eight starters in camp, but Mattingly is still high on him.

"The only guy that's kind of fallen off track a little bit, though he's throwing the ball well, is Teddy, who has had bad luck. He got sick and missed a start, then he got a start and it got rained out," Mattingly said. "He hasn't been able to log the innings that the other guys have, on the field at least. But the ball's coming out good. When you see Teddy at 88-89, he's going good."

Whether it's good enough for Lilly to secure one of five rotation spots (okay, really two or more likely one open spot) remains to be seen, but should be more clear within the next week or so.

Notes

  • Carl Crawford hit in the batting cages for a fourth straight day on Sunday morning, but also expanded his work to include taking batting practice on the field for the first time since getting shut down for a week. Crawford was estimated to have taken between 75-100 swings in total, with no pain. There is still no timetable for his return to game action, however.
  • Scott Elbert threw off flat ground on Sunday for the third time since getting cleared to throw earlier in the week. Elbert will continue to throw every other day in the early stages of his rehab from a pair of offseason elbow surgeries.
  • Larry Walker, the first base coach for Team Canada, during Sunday's brawl with Mexico pulled first baseman Adrian Gonzalez back from the fracas, reportedly telling him, "You're too important to this game." Mattingly smiled when he heard that - "I liked that," he said - and relayed a similar story from his playing days for the Yankees against the Angels.

    "We played the Angels and had one of those back-and-forths, and Rod Carew grabbed me and said, 'You're not getting into this'," Mattingly said.
  • Javy Guerra allowed two runs on two hits and two walks while recording two outs, one via strikeout, in Sunday morning's 'B' game against the Reds. He threw 25 pitches.
  • Matt Magill threw 39 pitches in his three scoreless innings in said 'B' game, and allowed two hits and a walk, with three strikeouts.
  • Stephen Fife (one hit allowed, 11 pitches) and Steven Ames (one strikeout, 12 pitches) each pitched a scoreless inning in the 'B' game.
  • Also scheduled to pitch for the Rockies on Sunday are Danny Rosenbaum, Matt Belisle, Edgmer Escalona, and Joe Gardner.
  • Dodgers general counsel Sam Fernandez won the Outstanding Corporate Counsel Award from the Los Angeles County Bar Association, and will be presented the award in a dinner on Monday night in Los Angeles. Vin Scully is the keynote speaker at the event, and Fred Claire will present Fernandez with the award.

Game info

Time: 1:10 p.m. PT

TV: ROOT Sports & MLB.tv (Rockies broadcast)

Radio: KLAC 570 (English) / KTNQ 1020 (Spanish)

MLB Gameday

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