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Erik Bedard, Joc Pederson and the lessons of spring training

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Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The first spring training game for the Dodgers provided a nice contrast in the approach toward exhibition competitions. From non-roster veteran pitcher Erik Bedard to rookie outfielder Joc Pederson, both put in work in Wednesday's opening 6-4 loss to the White Sox at Camelback Ranch.

Both players are trying to make the opening day roster, with varying degrees of stakes and expectations. Bedard, 36 on Thursday, knows his role.

"You're here to help. If somebody gets hurt, I can fill in," Bedard said. "Just trying to do the best I can."

On Wednesday, that including allowing one run on two hits in two innings against the White Sox. Bedard got three ground outs in his first four batters faced before a double - off the outstretched glove of a diving Andre Ethier in center field - and a single gave Chicago its first run.

Bedard's performance falls under the old veteran's refrain of using the spring to prepare for the season, something manager Don Mattingly also expressed.

"We're not looking for a whole lot out of them [results wise]. Rick [Honeycutt] has plans for them," Mattingly said of his veteran pitchers in camp. "The ball was coming out good. He got a couple ground balls."

Bedard, who has pitched in 11 big league seasons, said results don't mean much to him in spring, especially early.

"It's basically executing pitches," Bedard said. "Even when I was at the top of my game, Arizona got me a lot. My first spring training here was very bad, so I don't put a lot on results."

Bedard is a different pitcher than the one who struck out 221 in 182 innings with Baltimore in 2007.

"I used to throw hard. Now," Bedard said before a slight pause, "not so hard."

The most likely scenario for Bedard is to start the season in Triple-A Oklahoma City, with five starting pitchers under contract and some pitching depth on the 40-man roster. Unless someone gets hurt this spring.

"You never know what will happen here. You take care of the things you can control. Number one is getting yourself out here, getting in shape and getting ready to pitch," Mattingly said. "You just get ready day by day."

Bedard can opt out of his minor league contract if the Dodgers don't add him to the active roster by May 1. For now though, he sounds well aware of the pecking order of the Dodgers rotation.

"I know where I stand," Bedard said. "The game is still fun, and I like playing baseball."

Pederson was 2-for-2 as the designated hitter on Wednesday, including a double. He is fighting for the starting job in center field, where he will start on Thursday.

"Obviously for him, it probably helps him if he gets a couple hits early to relax, instead of starting 0-for-15 or something," Mattingly said. "So when he puts a couple of hits on the board, I'm sure that just helps him relax."

While the two hits probably helped, the impact was roughly as small as Pederson's struggles in September, when he was 4-for-32 with 11 strikeouts and nine walks.

"September and spring are two tough times to read. September is sporadic at-bats, with a pinch hit here, a couple of at-bats there," Mattingly said. "It's just not the way guys who play everyday, especially a young guy, gets ready to go."

Notes

Alex Guerrero, fighting for a bench spot, played third base and also had two hits.

Adam Liberatore pitched a scoreless inning with two strikeouts in his Dodgers spring debut. "He's got weapons for everybody. He's a command guy who throws the ball on both sides of the plate," Mattingly explained. "Any time you can do that, you have a chance to get both sides out."

Carlos Frias allowed two runs on three hits in two innings, but also struck out five.

Corey Seager, who came into the game for Pederson at designated hitter in the seventh, walked and had an RBI single in his two trips to the plate.

Up next

The Dodgers and White Sox go at it again on Thursday, this time a home game for Chicago, with Clayton Kershaw on the mound, against John Danks.