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03/26/12 8:58 PM ET

Dodgers agree to deal with Dominican teen

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Dodgers, missing in action on the international bonus scene in recent years, have agreed to sign 16-year-old right-handed pitcher Bryan Munoz from the Dominican Republic for a reported $300,000 bonus, pending a physical exam.

The signing will mark a re-entry by the Dodgers into a Dominican market they once owned. They ranked last in Major League Baseball last year in money spent on international signings. The Dodgers outbid the Rangers, Twins, Tigers and D-backs for Munoz.

The agreement was reached last week, while Munoz was in Arizona with the Dominican Elite Travel Team. The signing bonus is believed to be the largest the Dodgers have given a Dominican player since signing Joel Guzman for $2.25 million in 2001. Guzman played eight games for the Dodgers and was traded to Tampa Bay.

With a fastball reportedly already touching 90 mph, Munoz is expected to start his Minor League career in the United States and not at the Dodgers' Dominican academy at Campo Las Palmas, according to Kevin Bandel, Munoz's agent.

Despite a fastball reportedly already touching 90 mph, Munoz is most likely to start his Minor League career at the Dodgers' Dominican academy at Campo Las Palmas.

Lilly out for next start, may miss start of season

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers pitcher Ted Lilly said he will miss his scheduled exhibition start Tuesday because of a recurring stiff neck, putting his status for the season-opening series in San Diego in jeopardy.

Lilly said his condition has improved with therapy, but not enough to allow him to start Tuesday. He played catch briefly Monday, but appeared uncomfortable and shut down quickly. He missed a between-starts bullpen session Saturday.

"Today it's quite a bit better," said Lilly. "But it's not to the point where I'm confident I can go out there and not regress."

Lilly said he thinks the condition is muscular, however he also has a history of neck problems dating back to his days with Toronto. He also exited early from a start last August because of similar stiffness and said his current discomfort is "worse than it was last year."

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said relievers will pitch all the innings of Tuesday's game. He said no juggling of starters needs to be done until Friday, if at that time it appears Lilly won't be ready for his Game 3 slot once the season opens. If he's set back only short term, Lilly could switch with fifth starter Chris Capuano, because there's an off-day after the four-game series in San Diego and the fifth starter would be skipped anyway.

That would delay Lilly's first start until April 14. If he needed to go on the disabled list, his spot in the rotation likely would be taken by Nathan Eovaldi, who is having an impressive spring, but is ticketed back to the Minor Leagues because the Dodgers have five established starters with Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Lilly, Aaron Harang and Capuano.

Numbers belie Billingsley's outing

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chad Billingsley has a 4.91 spring ERA, and his line Monday (5 2/3 innings, three runs and 11 hits) wasn't pretty either.

But the in-uniform critics believe the Dodgers' No. 2 starter should get some credit for righting the ship (retiring eight straight) after three shaky innings when he allowed 11 of the first 17 White Sox batters to reach base.

"I think Bills did a good job, taking it upon himself to start throwing inside with the fastballs," said catcher Matt Treanor, who helped with an RBI single and threw out two potential basestealers.

"To be honest, he threw a lot of good pitches. Give them credit, they had a lot of two-strike hits. But I was happy to see Bills shake it off and stay focused. I thought it was a good day for him."

Manager Don Mattingly agreed.

"I was OK with him," said Mattingly. "He gave up a lot of hits early, but thy weren't putting bullets all over the park. He made a lot of quality pitches and he bounced back. He didn't turn it into a disaster, he managed the game. It could have been ugly, but he gave us a chance to win."

Sands trying to make up for slow start

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- When the Dodgers came to camp, there was a roster spot for Jerry Sands to lose, and until Monday, that's what it looked like he was doing.

Although Sands sent a game-winning single against the White Sox through the hole at shortstop, it raised his average to .158. It was only his second RBI in 38 spring at-bats. He has 12 strikeouts and a .184 slugging percentage.

It's not what the club was expecting after Sands shook off an overmatched initial callup last year and went off for a .342 September with seven extra-base hits.

After his game-winner Monday, Sands said he spent too much time this spring listening to too many people offering suggestions on what he should change.

"It's been pretty brutal," he said. "I don't know, people thought there needed to be changes, little things, but something small can throw big things off. It was mostly picking up pitches and making contact once you pick it up. But it's pretty tough to do, make changes and be successful at the plate when they're throwing 95 [mph]."

Manager Don Mattingly, while acknowledging that Sands hasn't done anything this spring to win the job, implied that Sands has been the first choice for the last spot.

"What I really want for that spot is somebody that can thump left-handed pitching," Mattingly said. "Give us a power threat to drive the baseball against a left-handed pitcher, that's what that spot is. He plays left, right and first. And I talked about our guys against left-handed pitching [namely Andre Ethier and James Loney, who struggled last year]. It would be a nice option to load that lineup with a bunch of guys.

"If he doesn't make the club, nothing's changed for me. 'Dre has been really good against left-handed pitching [a double Monday against John Danks], and if he continues, there's no need to do that [platoon]. But the dynamics of that last spot stay the same."

Kennedy could return from groin strain soon

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers infielder Adam Kennedy said he didn't think the right groin strain he suffered Sunday was "too serious" and he could be back on the field in two or three days.

He said he suffered the injury slipping off second base while taking a throw on a force out in the first inning, but played three more innings.

"I knew it was bad when I came out of the box my first at-bat," said Kennedy, who walked in the fourth and stole second base without a throw. "Every spring I go through a little something that takes a day or two."

Why steal a base with a sore leg?

"Anybody can steal a base healthy," he said to teammate Dee Gordon. "Try stealing with a groin."

Second baseman Mark Ellis was a late scratch from Monday's starting lineup after becoming ill and was replaced by Jerry Hairston, who is playing two days after revealing that his shoulder had bothered him all spring, but is now healed after he committed five throwing errors.

Infielder Justin Sellers, out with a skin irritation, said he should return to game action Tuesday. Sellers has moved into position to make the club as a utility infielder. With Hairston's throwing problems, Sellers can back up at shortstop, and his offense is improved from last year's callup.

"He's doing what we've talked about and his batting practice has been really good," said manager Don Mattingly. "He's realistic about where he wants to be, in the big leagues, and if he hits like he did last year with balls in the air, it limits his chances."

Rubby De La Rosa (Tommy John surgery) and Blake Hawksworth (elbow surgery and infection) could open the season on the 60-day disabled list, which would free up two spots for non-roster invitees like Jamey Wright, John Grabow, Josh Fields or Luis Cruz.

Hawksworth still is hopeful of being ready by the end of April, although he's had to shut down light tossing because the joint is still irritated from two January procedures. De La Rosa is throwing hard already, but is being held back because his surgery was only seven months ago. He hopes to be throwing off a mound in three weeks.

Grabow exercises out clause, gets released

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Veteran reliever John Grabow exercised the out clause in his Minor League contract Monday and was granted his unconditional release by the Dodgers to pursue a job elsewhere.

Grabow pitched well for the Dodgers this spring, not allowing an earned run in six innings with seven strikeouts and one walk. But the Dodgers seem to have decided to stick with one lefty in the bullpen (Scott Elbert) and can call up Minor Leaguer Scott Rice if needed. Elbert struck out the side in his one inning Monday.

Jamey Wright, also in camp on a Minor League contract, is expected to make the club as a versatile reliever who can handle short, middle and long relief. Wright has allowed two earned runs in 8 1/3 innings, coming in to get a strikeout and bail Chad Billingsley out of a jam.

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