CLOSE

Now Commenting On:

Colletti says Dodgers in 'good spot' as spring nears

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Ned Colletti and Don Mattingly are checking out the dozen prospects in town for the annual Winter Development Camp, but the big league club remains job No. 1.

The general manager said the Dodgers who are recovering from injuries -- including Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford and Chad Billingsley -- are on schedule to participate in Spring Training, although that comes with a disclaimer: Baseball activities just started and the injured haven't really been tested.

Kemp stopped by Camelback Ranch-Glendale on Wednesday to take some swings off the tee with hitting coach Mark McGwire.

More

Colletti said he's happy with the roster as it stands and gave no indication of an imminent trade or free-agent signing.

"We're fine right now if we come into camp, we're in a good spot," Colletti said.

That spot includes eight starting pitchers, with the signings of Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu. It includes Hanley Ramirez and Luis Cruz still tentatively at shortstop and third base, respectively, even though in winter ball Ramirez hasn't played much shortstop (even though the club wanted him to) and Cruz didn't hit well (apparently feeling the effects of the flu).

Speaking of spots, Mattingly addressed the leadoff spot in the batting order one day after visiting with Crawford. Mattingly said Crawford expects to be healed from Tommy John surgery to be the starting left fielder.

As for batting leadoff, Mattingly said Crawford is willing to bat in the No. 1 spot, even though there is a generally accepted belief in the game that Crawford prefers the No. 2 hole.

"He said he didn't know where that came from," the manager said. "He said he heard that on ESPN. He said he would do whatever we want him to do. That said, he's had his most success in the two-hole."

But Mattingly said leadoff is the one spot in the order he will need to sort out during Spring Training.

"Not having a true leadoff guy," he said, "we'll have to work on that in the spring. Mark Ellis was really good against lefties. Skip [Schumaker], Nick [Punto]. There are different combinations we could hit on top."

Dee Gordon would be a "true" leadoff guy, but he is likely headed to Triple-A if Ramirez starts at short. Colletti said the club has discussed internally moving Gordon to the outfield, but Colletti and Mattingly are against it.

"Everybody I talk to [meaning mostly other managers] talks about him at shortstop," Mattingly said. "My personal opinion is I hate to give up on him at shortstop. If we get solid defense and with his speed offensively, we've got a great player."

"We asked a lot of him last year," Colletti said. "You've got to be patient. You won't find that skill set in the middle of the infield."

The surplus of starting pitchers puts Colletti and Mattingly in an unusual position. If everybody is healthy, there won't be room in the rotation for Ted Lilly, Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano, all established starters, each up for free agency after the season.

At least one of them could assume the long reliever role handled by Jamey Wright last year, but what about the other two? Mattingly said all eight would be treated like starters in Spring Training. Billingsley is coming off a partially torn elbow ligament and Lilly shoulder surgery, so there are health questions that need answering.

"It starts with conversations and Rick [Honeycutt, pitching coach] has talked to them," Mattingly said of potentially reduced innings and bruised egos. "They are veteran guys, they've been around. It's not going to be like young guys that don't understand. You're dealing with pros."

"The sense I've gotten," said Colletti, "is they'd rather not be traded. I've not had one agent say they don't want to be a part of it. They want to compete and see how it turns out. For me, it's always fluid. One day you have too many, the next day too little."

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

Less