Mattingly sees positives as Cactus season ends

Mattingly sees positives as Cactus season ends

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Don Mattingly and his players evacuated the desert Wednesday, the manager declaring Cactus League 2012 a qualified success.

"We answered questions with Matt [Kemp] and Carl [Crawford]," Mattingly said of his two outfielders coming off surgery. "Carl made it, he's ready. Matt is playing confidently. You don't hear about the shoulder anymore.

"Hanley [Ramirez, out two months with thumb surgery] was a little punch in the gut, but something we can sustain. Zack [Greinke's elbow] scared us, but that can happen with any pitcher. Chad [Billingsley] had the index finger, but we crossed the hurdle with his elbow that it would hold up every five days with no issue all spring. So, a lot of those questions got answered. It was good."

Mattingly even allowed that the emergence of Cuban sensation Yasiel Puig was "a nice little thing we saw." Puig will be on display Thursday in a split-squad game at Rancho Cucamonga, then in Friday and Saturday's home-and-away Freeway Series games with the Angels, before he reports to Double-A Chattanooga after being optioned on Tuesday.

"He's a true real talent and has a chance to be something special if he keeps getting better," Mattingly said.

Among the big leaguers joining Puig at Rancho Cucamonga will be Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Luis Cruz and Jerry Hairston. Hall of Fame manager Tom Lasorda will skipper the club and Stephen Fife will be the starting pitcher.

The rest of the Major League team will be in Anaheim, with Mattingly managing and Hyun-Jin Ryu the starting pitcher.

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