Dan Haren gets game in, Zack Greinke to back fields, Chad Billingsley throws curves

Eric Stephen | True Blue LA

News and notes from a rainy Saturday in Maryvale against the Brewers.

PHOENIX -- Unfettered by rain throughout the city before the game, the Dodgers were able to get their game in against the Brewers at Maryvale Park. They lost 6-5 to Milwaukee, but Dan Haren was able to get his regular outing in without interruption.

"I'm really happy he was able to get a game in, instead of having to throw a pen or a cage game or something," manager Don Mattingly said. "You rarely worry about your veterans as long as they're getting work. These guys know what they need to do."

Haren pitched two innings and gave up a run on three hits and a walk. He then threw a simulated inning in the bullpen for 50 total pitches, ahead of where he would normally be at this point in spring. Haren, like several of his rotation mates, is preparing to be ready to pitch in Sydney on March 22-23.

"I called Rick [Honeycutt, pitching coach] back around Christmas and asked him, ‘Do I need to be ready to pitch on March 22 or do I need to be ready to pitch on April 1 or 2?’" Haren said. "He said, ‘Be prepared to pitch on March 22 or 23.’ So I started my program earlier than normal."

The Dodgers briefly looked like they would be no-hit, but they scored two runs in the third without benefit of a single base hit. They were still leading 2-1 in the fifth when Dee Gordon bunted safely - with two strikes - for the Dodgers' first hjt of the game.

Carl Crawford returned to game action after missing two days with tightness in his right quad. He got two plate appearances as the designated hitter, going 0-for-1 with a walk. He could return to the field as soon as Sunday, pending evaluation from the training staff.

"I wanted to give him a couple at-bats and not push it," Mattingly said. "He had to run, too."

Greinke plan

Zack Greinke played catch off flat ground again on Saturday, and his right calf felt better than it did on Friday. The next step for Greinke will be a bullpen session, which he will need before making his next start. No date has yet been set for the bullpen session, and it will be a while before he sees Cactus League action.

"He and Rick have been talking about exactly which day would be best for the bullpen session and how to get him back on track," Mattingly said. "His next time out will be a back field situation, where they can control him not having to cover first, exactly how many pitches, things like that."

Mattingly added that Tuesday's game against the Mariners, which would have been started by Greinke before he was sidelined by the calf strain, will likely be a bullpen game, with several relievers pitching short stints.

Billingsley adds a wrinkle

Chad Billingsley in a bullpen session on Saturday threw curve balls for the first time since his Tommy John surgery last April.

"I had good spin on it. Just getting the feeling back and the release point. I definitely was rusty, but overall it was good," Billingsley said. "At this stage of the rehab, we're really testing it, stressing the ligament a little more, building strength into it."

In addition to his curve, Billingsley threw a fastball and changeup, and said he would mix in his cutter his next time out.

Up next

The Dodgers return home to Camelback Ranch on Sunday afternoon to battle the Padres. Josh Beckett makes his first Cactus League start, facing Robbie Erlin for San Diego. Paul Maholm and Stephen Fife are also expected to pitch for the Dodgers on Sunday.

Saturday particulars

Home runs: none

WP - Kevin Shackelford (1-0): 2 IP, 3 hits

LP - Chris Reed (0-1): 2 IP, 5 hits, 4 runs

Sv - Brent Leach (1): 1 IP, 4 hits, 1 run, 1 strikeout

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