02/21/2013 5:23 PM ET
Kemp will heed Mattingly's advice for staying strong
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Don Mattingly played five seasons of at least 157 games each, but the career that seemed headed to the Hall of Fame was stopped short because his body broke down.
Whether that's convenient anecdotal evidence or not, the manager and longtime Yankees great is using his experience as a player to convince Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp to accept more days off.
"I want to give Matt a day here and there. I know he probably won't want to hear that," said Mattingly. "I know he likes to play every day, every day. But a few days off early on will keep him strong. Giving him a breather won't hurt him, and [Andre Ethier], too."
Kemp, who played at least 155 games four straight years until last year's injury-plagued season, said he's reluctantly accepting his manager's advice.
"If [Donnie Baseball] thinks taking a day off is best, I'll do it," said Kemp, who played 399 consecutive games until felled by a hamstring injury last summer.
"He told me one of the mistakes he made was not taking days off," Kemp added. "He'd play the game so hard he'd feel his legs get weak. You know I want to play every day. But I've got to listen to a man like him. If he gives me a day off, I can't say no.
"I understand it. It's tough for me, as much as I love to play, it's tough to sit. When I can play, I want to play. But I understand where he's coming from. For me, I have to trust my teammates that they'll pick me up, just like they trust me that I'll pick them up."
Three Dodgers decide against Classic participation
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Three of the Dodgers who are fighting for jobs this Spring Training have withdrawn from participating in the World Baseball Classic.
The three are left-handed reliever Paco Rodriguez, outfielder Alfredo Amezaga and right-handed reliever Peter Moylan.
Rodriguez was on the provisional roster for Spain, Amezaga for Mexico and Moylan for Australia. Rodriguez, the first player from last year's Draft to reach the big leagues, is on the Major League roster; Amezaga and Moylan are non-roster invitees.
Dodgers still planning to compete are shortstop Hanley Ramirez (Dominican Republic), first baseman Adrian Gonzalez (Mexico), third baseman Luis Cruz (Mexico), infielder Nick Punto (Italy) and right-handed reliever Ronald Belisario (Venezuela).
Players could miss up to three weeks of Spring Training, as World Baseball Classic games begin March 2, with the final March 19.
Although free agent J.P. Howell was signed to be the situational lefty with Scott Elbert recovering from elbow surgery, Rodriguez made an impact last September and he could force his way back into the big league bullpen this spring.
"This is my first Spring Training with the team," said Rodriguez, whose parents were born in Cuba but became citizens of Spain. "I want to stay here and get used to everything. I wanted to participate, but I felt I needed to stay."
Amezaga will be hard pressed to make the Opening Day lineup, but could be an early callup because of his versatility to play all over the field.
"Sometimes in situations, you have to think what's best for you," said Amezaga, who might have started in center field for Team Mexico. "It's best for me to stay here so they can see me and I can prove that I'm healthy."
Amezaga has had a series of knee injuries and was with the Dodgers in 2010, only to miss the entire season following microfracture knee surgery.
Moylan, an effective setup man with Atlanta when he wasn't battling elbow, back and shoulder problems, is contending for a relief spot.
"I'm with a new team and I wanted the organization to know that I was committed," said Moylan. "As much as I'd love to play for Australia, I'm really looking to establish myself here. Had I still been with [his original club, thre Braves], it wouldn't have been an issue."
Non-roster catcher Alfonzo held up by illness
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Non-roster catcher Eliezer Alfonzo, who hadn't reported to Dodgers camp because of what was described by club officials as a family illness, now has an illness of his own: dengue fever.
The virus, spread by mosquito bites, will prevent Alfonzo from flying, according to the club. He's expected to return from Venezuela within a week, but when he does, he will report to Minor League camp and not Major League camp.
Symptoms include a high fever and skin rash and usually last from one to two weeks. The illness is not considered life threatening. Alfonzo will be replaced in Major League camp by Minor League catcher Matt Wallach, son of third-base coach Tim Wallach.
Alfonzo, 33, was suspended twice for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, but the second suspension, for 100 games, was overturned for procedural reasons.
Alfonzo hit 12 homers for the Giants as a rookie in 2006, and made San Francisco's Opening Day roster in 2007, but has since been a member of the Padres, Mariners and Rockies organizations before playing in Mexico last year.
Kemp in running to be face of MLB
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Who is the face of MLB?
It could be Matt Kemp, who is locked in a semifinal duel with Atlanta outfielder Jason Heyward in the MLB Network promotion. The other semifinal pits Andrew McCutchen against Joey Votto.
Fan voting put Kemp in the semis when he outpolled crosstown sensation Mike Trout of the Angels. Heyward advanced by beating Miguel Montero.
Fans can vote until 3:30 a.m. PT Friday morning by tweeting #JasonHeyward or #MattKemp. Currently, Kemp trails Heyward in the voting.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.