Hector Gimenez and Gabe Kapler slugged back-to-back home runs, leading the Dodgers to a come-from-behind 6-4 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Camelback Ranch. Gimenez, who played the final two innings today at first base, his seventh game at first base this spring, hit a two-seam fastball from Rafael Rodriguez to the opposite field down the line in left for a go-ahead three-run home run in the eighth inning.
Gimenez by trade is a catcher, but he hasn't caught in a game since March 10. That hasn't stopped Gimenez from getting in his work behind the plate during workouts, though. "They know I can play first and I can be behind the plate too," he said. "The last couple of days I haven't been behind the plate a lot, but I'm still work on catching every day, trying to work wherever they give me an opportunity to play."
The Dodgers want to see what the 28-year old Venezuelan can do at other positions, to strengthen his chances of making the club. Gimenez is out of options, and would have to be exposed to waivers if he doesn't make the 25-man roster out of spring training. He also played 29 games at third base in Pittsburgh's minor league system in 2009, but the club hasn't asked Gimenez to play the hot corner. Still, he is ready for anything.
"I don't even think about [being out of options]. I just come here, do my job, all I'm thinking is to do my best to help the Dodgers," Gimenez said. "If they decide not to keep me on the team when they go to LA, that's not something I can control. All I can do is do my best and be ready and see what happens."
With possibly not needing a fifth starter until April 12, the Dodgers could play the first 10 games of the season with an extra bench player if they so choose, not bringing up John Ely or possibly Tim Redding until the day of their start. That sixth bench spot could go to Gimenez, or Xavier Paul, who is also out of options, or even an eighth reliever.
Billingsley Doing Work
Chad Billingsley threw 83 pitches in his five innings of work today. He gave up three runs, two on a hard-hit golf double by Miguel Montero in the fourth inning, but Billingsley was happy with his outing. He spent his day working on his curveball and changeup, the curveball which has especially given him trouble this spring. "Since the first day [of spring training], the curveball has been coming out of my hand wrong, and I didn't have a good feel for it. I was really working on it today."
Billingsley has made constant progress throught the spring on his changeup, which became a go-to pitch for him in the second half of last season. "In previous starts I've been getting a good feel for it. It's just a matter of finding situations," Billingsley said, "finding the release point to be able to throw it for strikes, or to induce contact, to throw it in the zone, out of the zone for a swing and miss."
- After the game, the Dodgers reassigned Jerry Sands and Justin Sellers to minor league camp, bringing the total number of players in major league camp to 42: 21 pitchers and 21 position players.
- Jay Gibbons, on his improved vision, thanks to new contacts: "When I first felt it was playing catch in the morning. It was almost a sigh of relief."
- Jonathan Broxton allowed a double to Justin Upton in his inning of work, then inadvertently beaned Upton on a pickoff attempt at second base. Upton was later thrown out trying to steal third base by Rod Barajas, who has thrown out three of eight would-be base thieves this spring. Broxton struck out the other two batters he faced.
- Hong-Chih Kuo wasn't on the pregame list of scheduled pitchers today, so his entrance in the eighth inning was a bit of a surprise. Kuo struck out one and allowed two fly balls in his third outing of the spring.
- Matt Kemp hit a towering home run, a two-run shot in the fourth inning off Aaron Heilman. It was the third home run this spring for Kemp, who broke his tie with Aaron Miles, Rod Barajas, and Sands for the team lead.
- The Dodgers wore green jerseys and green caps today for St. Patrick's Day. After the game, the players autographed their jerseys and caps, which will be auctioned off later this year by the Dodgers Dream Foundation.
- Speaking of St. Patrick's Day, before the game there was a little person named Donny Davis who was dressed as a leprechaun and sang perhaps the worst national anthem I have ever heard in person (and I've heard David Hasselhoff!).
The Dodgers travel to Scottsdale tomorrow to face the Giants. Regulars scheduled to make the trip are James Loney, Juan Uribe, Rafael Furcal, , and Andre Ethier. Rubby De La Rosa will get the start for the Dodgers, and is scheduled to be followed by Blake Hawksworth, Kenley Jansen, Ron Mahay, Ramon Troncoso, and Oscar Villarreal.
David Young contributed greatly to this report.