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Dodgers middle reliever Blake Hawksworth won’t be ready by opener

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Not all the news on the first day catchers and pitchers were officially required to report was of the good variety. LIke spring could ever go that way. Usually, though, it waits until the first practice.

However, Manager Don Mattingly told reporters in Phoenix on Tuesday that right-handed reliever Blake Hawksworth would not be ready by opening day after undergoing a second surgery to clean up an infection that resulted from the first operation.

Hawksworth had what was considered a minor procedure last month to clean scar tissue and shave down a bone spur in his throwing elbow.

Hawksworth was a mostly effective middle reliever for the Dodgers last season, going 2-5 with a 4.15 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in a career-high 49 games.

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Mattingly said Hawksworth is two or three weeks behind schedule.

His loss opens up a spot on an otherwise jammed roster, and could prove to be good news for right-handers Josh Lindblom and non-roster invitee Jamey Wright. The Dodgers are still hoping to discover a useful second left-hander for the bullpen from a host of candidates this spring.

Mattingly also told reporters he would continue to bat Matt Kemp third in the lineup, as he did late last year, and try to protect him with either Andre Ethier or Juan Rivera batting in the cleanup spot.

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-- Steve Dilbeck


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