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Dodgers making use of back fields, minor league games

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Dodgers play the Diamondbacks on Monday afternoon at Camelback Ranch, the day before the one off day of camp and before the club begins the home stretch in getting ready for the regular season.

"We will start playing lineup a little more regularly, with three in a row instead of two," manager Don Mattingly said. "At-bats are getting a little bit thinner, so we'll take specific guys, let them go back there and get anything they want."

There in this case is the minor league side of camp, which will be used more liberally by the Dodgers in the coming days.

On Monday, Brandon McCarthy will start on the back fields in a minor league game against the Reds instead of the big league game against Arizona.

"If he wants to throw 10 straight cutters, he can. If he wants to throw all sinkers, he can do that. He wanted to specifically work on anything that he wanted to, knowing he didn't have to get three outs, or getting up to 30 pitches and coming out of the game," Mattingly said. "This way we can control the up and downs, get his pitch count to where we wanted to get it, and him being able to do what he wants."

In addition to McCarthy, relief pitchers Joel Peralta and Chris Hatcher will both pitch in one of the minor league games against the Reds, both relievers working on back-to-back days for the first time all spring.

Brett Anderson will start in a minor league game against Brewers Class-A players on Tuesday's off day in order to stay on rotation.

The minor league games provide a more controlled environment, with the game itself changed on a whim if major league players are involved. Position players will often play in minor league games in an effort to get more at-bats, and they might be able to get seven to nine plate appearances by simply batting every inning, regardless of batting order.

Carl Crawford, who is not in the lineup Monday and is not in Wednesday's lineup, will play in a minor league game on Wednesday in an effort to get more plate appearances. A.J. Ellis will do the same later in the week.

"We're going to start talking with guys and see where they're at," Mattingly said.

Notes

Chris Anderson starts for the Dodgers against Arizona on Monday, with Daniel Hudson pitching for the Diamondbacks.

Also scheduled to pitch for the Dodgers on Monday include Adam Liberatore, Daniel Coulombe, Sergio Santos and Pedro Baez.

After playing in seven games in a row, Joc Pederson gets a day off on Monday. Pederson leads the Dodgers this spring in plate appearances (42), total bases (30), home runs (three, tied), runs scored (10) and RBI (eight, tied). He has played 16 games in 19 days, and is hitting .436/.476/.769 in Cactus League play.

Wednesday will be a bullpen game for the Dodgers, with relief pitchers Paco Rodriguez, J.P. Howell, Juan Nicasio, Yimi Garcia, Joel Peralta and Dustin McGowan all scheduled to pitch against the Padres. One of those pitchers will start, but that hasn't been decided yet.

Mattingly said the Dodgers would also have a bullpen game on Saturday against the Angels in Tempe.

Chad Gaudin threw a bullpen session on Monday morning, two days after tweaking his right biceps in a game against the Diamondbacks.

Brandon League came out of his Sunday bullpen session feeling no ill-effects in his right shoulder, and will throw another bullpen session on Tuesday's off day.

Mattingly talked Monday morning about how the team only needs a fifth starter once in roughly the first three weeks of the season, something I wrote about on Friday. It will depend on the structure of rest of the roster, and the possibility of a bullpen game for April 13 or 14 isn't out of the question. "We've been talking back and forth about how we structure that," Mattingly said.

Hyun-Jin Ryu is meeting with Dr. Neal ElAttrache today in Los Angeles, and will fly back to Phoenix on Tuesday morning.

Officially there is no word on the Dodgers' regular season lineup other than Jimmy Rollins batting leadoff. Mattingly said he still hasn't yet had discussions with the front office about the lineup. "They must like the one we're putting up there," Mattingly quipped. "We really haven't gotten into that yet. At some point before opening day I'm sure we will."