JUPITER, Fla. -- Considering it could have been the franchise’s final spring training game in Florida, the Dodgers went into Tuesday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Florida Marlins with modest expectations.
“Everybody came out healthy,” bench coach Bob Schaefer said. “And that was our No. 1 goal.”
They also came out with a 2-1 win behind Mark Sweeney’s two-run seventh-inning homer and some brilliant pitching by Hiroki Kuroda, Takashi Saito and rookie Clayton Kershaw. Kuroda went the first five innings, giving up a run and three hits and retiring 11 in a row at one point before Saito took over and pitched a 1-2-3 sixth.
Both pitchers made such quick work of the Marlins, in fact, they returned to the bullpen to throw more while Kershaw closed out the game, getting three of his nine outs on strikeouts.
It was a brisk goodbye to Florida, lasting only 2 hours 12 minutes. Afterward the Dodgers took a bus the short distance to Palm Beach International Airport for their charter to Arizona, where the team will reunite with Manager Joe Torre and finish spring training in Phoenix.
“It will be good to get back with everybody,” said Schaefer, who stayed in Florida with a split squad when Torre took the other half of the team to China last week. “Guys are getting a lot of at-bats, pitching some innings, getting themselves ready for Phase II of spring training.
“Phase II is very important. That’s when you really put your team together.”
Phase II begins today with the first full-squad workout in eight days. And while Schaefer says he’ll miss Florida, he says training in Arizona, even for a week, will help the Dodgers because the close proximity of many of the spring training complexes cuts down on travel time, leaving more time for work.
“It’s just a better situation. It’s just too many bus rides” in Florida, he said. “You can just do so much more, accomplish so many more things, by having a workout before the game and not being in a bus before a game.”
The Dodgers finished Grapefruit League play 8-13.
Although Jeff Kent and Nomar Garciaparra remain hurt and unable to play in games, General Manager Ned Colletti said it was too early for the Dodgers to panic and look outside of the organization for infield help. “Not yet,” Colletti said.
Kent received a cortisone injection in his ailing right leg Monday and won’t run for five or six days. Torre said he hoped Kent would be able to play in a game by this weekend.
Garciaparra took batting practice in Phoenix on Tuesday. Garciaparra said his bruised hand still hurts when he hits, but that he will continue taking batting practice to strengthen it.
Sweeney’s homer, his first of the spring, gave the Dodgers a homer in 13 consecutive games and 28 in 23 Grapefruit League games. They led National League teams in home runs entering play Tuesday after finishing next-to-last in the league in homers last season with 129.
Around the horn
The Dodgers will fund the restoration of a ballpark in China that was built by former owner Peter O’Malley, owner Frank McCourt said. Dodger Stadium in Tianjin was constructed in 1986 as a part of the Dodgers’ initial thrust into China. “It needs a lot of work,” said McCourt, who estimated the cost could run into the seven figures. And without that work, the stadium would be demolished and its replacement would be located in a rural area where land is less valuable. . . . The Dodgers reassigned right-hander Jason Johnson to minor league camp. Johnson, a 10-year big-league veteran and once a candidate for the fifth spot in the Dodgers rotation, gave up four earned runs in eight innings.
Times staff writer Dylan Hernandez contributed to this report from Phoenix.