03/03/2013 7:45 PM ET
Kemp gets stronger as Puig impresses
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- After going 0-for-3 in his second Spring Training game Sunday, Matt Kemp was lifted for a pinch-hitter, who looked like the next Matt Kemp.
Yasiel Puig, the 22-year-old Cuban exile, blistered a bullet three-run home run that added to the budding lore of the $42 million signing. It also added to the questions facing manager Don Mattingly about whether Puig can make the Opening Day roster with only 95 professional plate appearances.
"Don't even get started," Mattingly said. "It's just fun watching him play with that energy. Anything is possible, but I'm not going to go into hypotheticals. We'll see what happens."
Kemp is coming off shoulder surgery, but he and Mattingly said the shoulder is fine and he'll have enough spring at-bats to get his timing down. Carl Crawford reported improvement in his elbow after taking new medication, but his readiness for Opening Day is a question. Jerry Hairston and Skip Schumaker are around in case either Kemp or Crawford isn't ready.
But now there is Puig, who will become a real storyline if he continues to hit once the curveballs start breaking.
Puig admitted to a little nervousness when he saw how many good players there were early in camp, but that .421 spring batting average has him starting to believe that he belongs. He said he doesn't even know what it means that Kemp, Crawford and Andre Ethier are each signed through at least 2017.
Meanwhile, Kemp said he expects better at-bats when he returns to outfield play this week, uncomfortable with the standing around of a designated hitter. Physically, he said he's fine.
"The only thing I worry about is swinging and missing, and I did that a couple times and it didn't hurt," he said. "The swing is still long. I need to shorten it up, and I'll be good. It's only five at-bats. I'm definitely not worried about where I am. I'll be happy to get back on the field.
"If I think about the shoulder, I won't be successful. I have to trust that what I did in the offseason worked and just go out and play."
Greinke, Ryu skip Sunday bullpen sessions
GLENDALE, Ariz.-- Sunday was the day Dodgers starters Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu would have thrown their bullpen sessions, but neither did.
Greinke had "a little forearm tightness and thought it best to give it a day to let it rest," pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said. "It's nothing to be alarmed about. He's had it before and he's still expected to make his next start [Wednesday]."
Greinke didn't miss the pre-game workout, shagging in the outfield but making very few overhand throws. As a nine-year veteran, Greinke has the club's trust that he knows what it takes to get ready for the season. Ryu, on the other hand, is an unknown.
Honeycutt said Ryu never threw bullpen sessions as a star in Korea, and the left-hander doesn't want to vary from that routine. The Dodgers, trying to help his transition to a more frequent and demanding workload in the Major Leagues, have suggested he follow the typical routine of starters -- throwing a bullpen session two or three days after a start -- but aren't pushing it.
"We are giving him the opportunity to show that his custom works, while he sees how it's done here," Honeycutt said. "We'll try this until we see if it needs to improve."
Greinke has allowed two earned runs in five innings this spring. Ryu has allowed two earned runs in three innings.
Meanwhile, Ted Lilly missed his second day of workouts. He was given Saturday to care for his family, who were stricken by a wave of the flu. By Sunday, he had caught whatever they had. It's not clear if he will be able to make his next scheduled appearance on Tuesday.
Dodgers make first spring cuts
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Dodgers made their first cuts of spring Sunday afternoon, re-assigning pitcher Kelvin De La Cruz and infielders Nick Evans, Ozzie Martinez and Dallas McPherson to Minor League camp.
McPherson, a former top prospect of the Angels, had the most Major League service time and was given an early look at first base. But the natural third baseman never looked comfortable and hit .154.
Pitcher Ames wins Dodgers Idol
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- On Sunday, pitcher Steve Ames won Dodgers Idol, an entertaining rookie hazing ritual that has become a Spring Training staple in the clubhouse.
The right-hander edged fellow reliever Shawn Tolleson by performing a comedy version of The Lonely Island's hit song that's so racy, its title cannot be mentioned here.
Ames said he practiced his performance for the past two days singing in his car, but wasn't exactly looking forward to it.
"Literally, it's my worst nightmare scenario," he said of the setting -- an audience of his teammates. "Maybe only stand-up comedy would be worse. I don't like being the center of attention. But it's way better than I thought it would be, just getting it over with."
Every player in his first L.A. Major League camp is required to perform some act of his choice, with no exceptions.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.