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Notes: Pierre likely if Furcal can't go

Notes: Pierre likely for top if Furcal can't go

JUPITER, Fla. -- Grady Little on Tuesday might have given a sneak peak at what the top of the Dodgers' batting order will look like if Rafael Furcal can't answer the bell for Monday's opener because of a sprained ankle.

Little had Juan Pierre batting leadoff for only the second time this spring instead of batting second, as he has the rest of the spring. Even more telling, perhaps, is that Little had Tony Abreu batting second and playing shortstop.

Abreu was the Double-A second baseman last year and has emerged as the heir apparent to Jeff Kent, but he's also shown such versatility on the other side of second base that he could be the choice to replace Furcal at shortstop, even though utility infielder Wilson Valdez has done nothing wrong this spring and has the benefit of being out of options.

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Abreu had two of the Dodgers' four hits Tuesday off Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter, raising his spring average to .370. Valdez, who made the trip but did not play, is hitting .377.

Furcal played catch again Tuesday, but was walking pretty gingerly in the clubhouse. Because neither Abreu nor Valdez is expected to make the club, the Dodgers likely would need to disable Furcal if it appears that he will miss more than a game or two and add one of them.

The only other infielder with shortstop experience that's expected to make the club, Ramon Martinez, has started only one game at shortstop since Furcal was injured. Valdez and Abreu have started at shortstop twice each since the injury.

Roster moves: The Dodgers announced four anticipated roster moves after the game. Catchers Sandy Martinez and Kelly Stinnett and pitcher Joe Mays were reassigned and reliever Tim Hamulack was optioned. All are expected to open the season at Triple-A Las Vegas and are viewed as insurance in the event of injuries on the Major League level.

Mays, a former 17-game winner, takes the role of this year's Aaron Sele, who opened last season in Las Vegas but made 19 starts for the Dodgers.

"He'll stay sharp and ready for when we need him," Little said.

The Dodgers now have 31 players in play for 25 spots. The final pitching spot will probably go to Rudy Seanez over Chin-hui Tsao. Larry Bigbie is likely to win the final position spot over James Loney, Matt Kemp, Andy La Roche, Valdez and Abreu, but Furcal's health could change that.

Yhency Brazoban, Jason Repko and Hong-Chih Kuo will start the season on the disabled list.

Listen to the legend: Brett Tomko, named the fifth starter after his worst start of the spring, said Tuesday's was his best.

Amazing what a conversation with Sandy Koufax can do.

"He came over during my bullpen session and saw that I was talking with Derek [Lowe] about my delivery and he said, 'I hope you don't mind,' and he made a suggestion about my rhythm and how he used to do it," said Tomko. "When a Hall of Famer does that, you don't tell him no. If you don't listen to him and soak up everything he says like a sponge, you're a moron."

Where's Marlon? Marlon Anderson rescued the Dodgers last September, taking over left field for a slumping Andre Ethier and slugging seven homers in 64 at-bats. But he needed October surgery to clean out elbow bone chips and he suffered a setback at the start of Spring Training.

Anderson and the Dodgers say he'll be ready for action when the season starts Monday, even though he's played only two innings of outfield, only three innings at second base and is 0-for-8 batting in exhibition games.

"I'm fine," said Anderson. "I said from the beginning that I'll be ready for April. What we've done is make sure of that. We've definitely been cautious because of what happened earlier. I don't want to get shut down again."

Anderson's situation has some impact on upcoming roster decisions. Little said he would use Anderson in the outfield next week if needed, but would prefer to keep him exclusively for pinch-hitting duty. That bolsters the roster bid of Bigbie.

Anderson and catcher Mike Lieberthal played in a Minor League game Tuesday to get extra at-bats.

Kemp kool: Kemp wasn't thrilled when the Dodgers acquired Brady Clark, a right-handed hitter who can play center field, to replace Repko, because that's what Kemp can do. But he decided he has higher ambitions than being a fourth outfielder.

"After I thought about it, I realized they have to do what they have to do to win," said Kemp. "Besides, sitting isn't my game. I don't do well off the bench. I'll go down and work on what I have to work on. I hope I can be the right-handed power bat they've been talking about."

Coming up: Lowe opposes Detroit's Nate Robertson on Wednesday at Lakeland. After the game, most of the Dodgers roster will fly out of Tampa to California for the Freeway Series opener Thursday night. There also will be a split-squad game at Vero Beach against the Mets on Thursday with Mays starting. Players still in camp who will stay back for the game are Loney, Kemp, Anderson and Martinez. They will catch a flight that night to join the club in time for Friday night's Freeway Series game. Extra players coming west for the series (but ticketed to start the season in the Minor Leagues) are: Adam Godwin, Larry Barnes, Lucas May, Blake DeWitt, Ivan DeJesus Jr., Sergio Garcia, Matt White, Travis Smith and John Meloan.

Asked why the club would be scheduled to play games on opposite coasts on the same day, Little said: "I'm not sure. It probably has something to do with the U.S. dollar."

Pregame visitor: Former Dodgers general manager Kevin Malone spoke at length with Little during batting practice. Malone is a partner in a Mercedes dealership in Valencia.

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

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{"content":["spring_training" ] }
{"content":["spring_training" ] }