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LA veterans get competition in Anderson

LA veterans get competition in Anderson

PHOENIX -- Listening to Brian Giles talk about his damaged knee and watching Doug Mientkiewicz throw with his damaged shoulder, it's understandable why the Dodgers added Garret Anderson to the competition for left-handed pinch-hitter.

Giles, the 39-year-old two-time All-Star, was asked Thursday if he was confident his chronic right knee can take the punishment of playing.

"Not as much as I'd like at this point," Giles said. "It's just OK. Obviously, I'll give it a few more days. It's not where I want it to be. I'll see if it gets better with more conditioning and how that changes it."

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By comparison, the 34-year-old Mientkiewicz sounded more confident that his shoulder -- reconstructed last April -- would be adequate, not only for the primary duties of pinch-hitting, but occasionally spelling James Loney at first base. He said the shoulder doesn't impact his swing, only his throws.

"I'm not worried about playing the games, it's the volume of Spring Training," said Mientkiewicz, who conceded he overworked the arm Wednesday and whose throws were generally lobs before that.

"My arm is good enough to play the game right now. Until yesterday, it's been the exact same as if I didn't have surgery. I'm totally fine. Put it this way: by April 8, I have no concern that if something happened to James, I could fill in as long as need be."

Nonetheless, manager Joe Torre welcomed the addition of the 37-year-old Anderson, a three-time All-Star who has made $76 million in his career, but signed a Minor League contract for a $550,000 base salary, plus incentives. Anderson is expected to report Friday.

"He was a pretty good player and he still is. He's dangerous," Torre said of Anderson, who has a .320 career average against the Yankees, most of that accumulated when Torre was the opposing manager.

"He can come off the bench, he knows how to hit. He's played regularly just about his whole career. He's a very smart hitter. He approaches every at-bat differently depending on the pitcher. I've always respected the kind of player he is."

Torre deflected questions about whether two of the three left-handed hitters could make the club, although that would seem very unlikely with the surplus of infielders in camp and Torre's preference for carrying 12 pitchers, especially early in the season.

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"Is 11 [pitchers] an option?" Torre said. "I guess it is. There are a lot of decisions to make, but not until we get deep into games. It depends on our infielders; we're a little top-heavy there. We've got to find out who can play an acceptable shortstop. It's important to have coverage there."

It's assumed that Jamey Carroll and Ronnie Belliard -- veteran infielders with guaranteed contracts -- will make the club, with Blake DeWitt the unknown. DeWitt is getting the first look at second base to see if he's capable of the subtleties needed there. If so, he could be the primary starter or in a platoon with Carroll/Belliard, the odd man out serving as Casey Blake's backup.

But none of those is a true shortstop, which is why the club is closely monitoring Nick Green's recovery from back surgery. So far, Green is without limitations, and he could back up Rafael Furcal, as could Angel Berroa or Chin-lung Hu.

"I think the bench is going to be fine," said Torre.

Giles -- who is bone on bone in the knee that underwent microfracture surgery in 2007 -- said the knee hurts mostly when cutting while running, but said it can "light up" on almost any step.

He said he would "probably go home" if he felt he couldn't hold up physically, but would exercise an escape from his contract rather than accept a Minor League assignment if he felt healthy and didn't make the Opening Day roster.

"I'm confident, if healthy, I can make the team, but I've got to be healthy," Giles said. "If I don't have the confidence, it doesn't help a lot. That's why I'm here. I'll know enough to make the decision."

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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