Chone Figgins trying to regain his stroke with Dodgers

PHOENIX — One of the most difficult things to do in professional sports is to take a round bat, swing at a round ball and hit it square. Now imagine trying to do that after sitting out a full season at an age when most players are considering retirement.

That's the challenge Chone Figgins is facing this spring in his longshot bid to make the Dodgers. Figgins is batting only .154 in 13 spring-training at-bats, but he says he's making progress.

"The more and more you see pitching, the more comfortable you get," the former American League All-Star said. "It's just making sure I'm in my spot where I need to be."

Figgins was released following the 2012 season by the Seattle Mariners — who ate $8 million in salary to do so — after hitting .185 over two years. A tryout with the Miami Marlins last spring went a little better, with Figgins hitting .308, but he was cut anyway and was out of baseball all season.

"That wasn't on me to take a year off," Figgins said Tuesday. "That was by team's choice."

Either way, the sabbatical left Figgins trying to rediscover his swing with the Dodgers at age 36.

"His at-bats early have been pretty good," Manager Don Mattingly said. "We're trying to give him a lot of at-bats and hopefully help him find some rhythm."

The Dodgers could use a veteran utility man such as Figgins, who has played six positions in the major leagues. However, the Dodgers have been clear they need him to hit too, and Figgins is doing his best to oblige


"My strike discipline's always there. That's never a question," Figgins said. "But I'm so anxious to hit the ball that I'm getting out front of it a little bit. So things like that, you have to calm yourself down."

Surgery for Stripling

Minor league pitcher Ross Stripling will miss the 2014 season. He is to undergo Tommy John surgery Wednesday in Los Angeles.

"He was on a good roll," Mattingly said. "He was one of the guys that's been throwing the ball good."

A fifth-round pick in the 2012 draft, Stripling, 24, had an 8-4 record with a 2.82 earned-run average in 27 games with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga and double-A Chattanooga last summer. But he hurt his arm throwing batting practice early in camp.

Mattingly said the procedure will slow Stripling's progress but shouldn't severely damage the right-hander's career.

"All it does is it changes the timetable more than anything else," he said. "We assume he's going to come back as good or better than before."

First cuts

The Dodgers made their first roster moves of the spring, optioning five players and assigning five nonroster players to the minors. They all moved across the club's Camelback Ranch training facility to the minor league complex.

Optioned was outfielder Nick Buss, right-handed pitchers Pedro Baez, Stephen Fife and Yimi Garcia, and left-hander Jarret Martin. Assigned were left-handers Daniel Moskos and Chris Reed, right-hander Sam Demel and catchers Chris O'Brien and Griff Erickson.

Twitter: @kbaxter11