James McDonald may take the fifth


Matt Kemp said he didn’t know if his eyesight was responsible for his franchise-record 153 strikeouts last season.

But he said he saw the seams of the baseball more clearly in the Dodgers’ 8-6 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Thursday than he did last year or in any game this spring because of the new contact lenses he received this week.

“It made it way, way clearer,” Kemp said. “It’s better. I feel really good at the plate.”

Kemp had 20/20 vision when he was tested last spring but a recent examination revealed that his eyesight had worsened to 20/30. He returned to Los Angeles on Tuesday to get a new set of contact lenses that would correct his astigmatism.


Kemp, who went into the game Thursday with 13 strikeouts in 57 at-bats this spring, didn’t strike out Thursday. He was one for five.

“I feel dangerous,” he said, laughing. “I feel like Manny Ramirez. . . . Matt Kemp is not going to strike out 153 times this year.”

McDonald: the default leader

James McDonald pitched three scoreless innings to remain ahead in the competition for the final spot in the rotation. The 24-year-old rookie right-hander walked three batters in the first inning but struck out three others and escaped unscathed.

McDonald lowered his spring earned-run average to 4.70.

While Manager Joe Torre said he thought it would be unfair to eliminate any of the fifth-starter candidates this late in the spring, Eric Milton and Claudio Vargas saw their bids take blows.

Pitching in gusting winds, Milton was charged with six runs and seven hits in 2 2/3 innings, raising his ERA to 7.27. He gave up five extra-base hits.

“A fly-ball pitcher in this wind is a little tough to evaluate,” Torre said of Milton.

Meanwhile, Vargas complained of discomfort in his elbow. Vargas told Torre that the pain was unrelated to the elbow problems he had last year and was probably a result of using a new grip when throwing his slider on Wednesday. That slider wasn’t particularly effective, as Vargas, who has an 8.22 ERA, gave up four runs in one inning.


Pedro Martinez remains on the free-agent market, but the Dodgers don’t appear to be interested in him at his current asking price, which is believed to be about $5 million.

More questions

Chad Billingsley has been scratched from his scheduled start on Sunday because of concerns about his strained groin and will pitch in a minor-league simulated game instead. Billingsley is scheduled to throw a bullpen session today, a day later than originally planned. He threw on flat ground Thursday.

Short hops

Brian Mazone’s decision to decline an invitation to pitch for Italy in the World Baseball Classic is paying off, as he has made himself a candidate to make the club as a situational left-hander. A non-roster invitee, Mazone tossed a scoreless inning to pick up his second save of the spring and lower his earned-run average to 1.13. He didn’t give up his first run of the spring until Wednesday. Mazone, 32, has never pitched in the big leagues. He was in the Philadelphia Phillies’ organization last year. . . . Ramirez didn’t report any problems stemming from his first start in left field on Wednesday, Torre said. . . . Utility infield candidate Juan Castro was two for four and raised his team-leading average to .435.