Notes: Gagne, Kent enjoy spring debuts

Notes: Gagne, Kent enjoy post-surgery debuts

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- Eric Gagne and Jeff Kent made their first post-surgery game appearances on Wednesday.

Gagne, on the recovery from June elbow surgery, retired the three eager Orioles batters he faced on five pitches -- a fly ball to deep left field by Eli Whiteside, a grounder to second base by David Newhan and a sharp bouncer to first baseman Nomar Garciaparra by Corey Patterson.

"I felt great," said Gagne, who was clocked at a high of 92 mph. "I'm pain free. I feel comfortable with my mechanics. I'll add a couple more miles per hour. I was focusing on strikes, keeping the ball down and controlling my emotions. I was excited. It's good to go out there and see how hitters react."

Gagne threw only fastballs and expects to pitch again Saturday.

"I'm mainly trying to get my rhythm back," he said. "I missed a couple spots and that's why they hit the ball pretty hard. I can tell when I miss, because they hit the ball pretty hard. If I throw 91 or 92 [mph] and I bounce back, I'm fine with that. The ball was coming out of my hand crisp."

Kent, recovering steadily from surgery to repair a ligament tear in his wrist, singled twice in three at-bats with a called third strike. He served as designated hitter Wednesday, but, barring a setback, is scheduled to play second base on Thursday.

"Everything went OK," he said. "I don't push much in Spring Training ever -- healthy or not," he said. "I retool my rhythm, see pitches, just get a feel for what's going on out there. The wrist felt OK and it worked out."

Kent has said that throwing will be the last part of his game that reaches 100 percent.

What about me?: With all of the fuss being made over top outfield prospects Joel Guzman and Matt Kemp, Cody Ross has dropped off the radar.

"That's sort of how I feel, like they forgot about me," said Ross, who added a three-run homer Wednesday to the homer he hit Monday. "I'm trying to take every opportunity I get and punctuate it -- even if I come in in the eighth, and Guzman or [Jason] Repko or Kemp get four at-bats and I get one. It's tough with those guys banging. When I get I there, I feel like I have to do something."

Ross entered the game in the sixth inning at center field, although he's usually a corner outfielder. At age 25, Ross is out of options, meaning if he does not make the 25-man Opening Day roster, the Dodgers would risk losing him on waivers if they try to send him back for a fourth season of Triple-A.

"There's a lot of kids, a lot of talent and very few positions," said manager Grady Little.

In addition to Ross and Guzman (a monster shot to center), Sandy Alomar Jr. and Bill Mueller homered for the Dodgers on Wednesday.

No Little matter: Little is anticipating a flood of Boston media on Thursday, when the team he formerly managed comes to town. But if they want to dwell on Little's fateful postseason decision that contributed to his dismissal, he'll have none of it.

"There's not much to talk about 2003," he said. "If they want to talk about the Dodgers of 2006, we'll talk. I think 2003 is past. [The Boston media] have their own way of making it worse -- unique ways of constant reminders for the folks."

Injury update: Andre Ethier was scheduled for an MRI exam on his right shoulder, which he injured when he jammed his elbow into the ground making a catch in Tuesday's game. Ethier said treatment has loosened up the stiffness and that the test was considered precautionary.

Pitcher Jose Diaz, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2004, will miss a week with tenderness on the other side of his elbow. Diaz, who pitched Saturday, said he hopes to be back in action by next Wednesday.

Yhency Brazoban, who has not pitched to hitters since Feb. 22, will make his spring debut Thursday with an inning in the game against the Red Sox.

Jason Werth still has not swung a bat or caught a ball. His starting the season on the disabled list is a virtual certainty.

Little agrees that Cesar Izturis is well ahead of schedule in his recovery from Tommy John surgery.

"At first they thought it would be the All-Star break," Little said of Izturis' return. "Now I don't see any way it will be that long. How much shorter, I don't know."

Roster moves: The Dodgers assigned catchers Eric Langill and Edwin Bellorin, left-handed pitcher Eric Stults and outfielder Jon Weber to their Minor League camp on Wednesday.

Familiar faces: Former Dodgers Ken Landreaux and Charlie Hough will visit Dodgertown and serve as guest outfield and pitching instructors.

Coming up: Derek Lowe starts for the Dodgers against his former team, the Boston Red Sox. Among the pitchers scheduled to follow is Japanese veteran import Takashi Saito, gaining support in his bid to win a middle relief job.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.