MLB

Mattingly expects to use several players in left

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GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP)

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly's early plan is to use a platoon of players to replace Manny Ramirez in left field.

Jay Gibbons and Marcus Thames have the early edge there, he said, with Tony Gwynn Jr. also in the mix. In reserve is Xavier Paul, who split time between the Dodgers and Triple-A Albuquerque.

The Thames-Gibbons combo has proven power; they've hit 239 big-league homers between them.

''I don't think anybody is going to think about them for the Gold Glove to start the year,'' Mattingly said. ''We're going to ask them to be as good as they can be and be solid. I don't want them to try to play over their heads. Don't try to make plays you shouldn't try to make. Make the plays you're supposed to make.''

If the plan works, he said the Dodgers have a chance to get 20 or 25 home runs from that pair.

''Is this the best defensive thing? I know that's not necessarily the case. That being said, they have to be as good as they can be,'' Mattingly said. ''Then we have to assess what we do late in games.''

''I like those two guys. I think they give us a chance to give us something we missed last year, a chance for guys who hit the ball in the seats a little bit.''

Thames has averaged a homer per 15.4 at bats, which would put him in the top 10 among active players if he had the requisite 3,000 plate appearances on his resume.

''I'm going to be a big power bat for them, a right-handed guy who can help out against lefties and certain righties,'' said Thames, who has played for Detroit and the New York Yankees. ''When I get in there, I'll pop one or two.''

He hopes they're in meaningful situations.

''You can hit a three-run homer and you're down 11-3, and it does nothing,'' Thames said. ''You want to hit something when the game is on the line and when the team needs you. That's kind of what I bring to the table.''

Gibbons, after playing well in Albuquerque last season, got a late-season call-up and hit .280 with five homers and 17 RBIs in 37 games for the Dodgers.

Gibbons is using spring training to tighten up his defense, which he acknowledges as his weakest spot.

Before landing with the Dodgers, Gibbons had an ''interesting journey'' for a couple of years after his name appeared in baseball's Mitchell Report on performance-enhancing drugs. ''I'm actually glad it happened. It made me a stronger person. I learned a lot about myself, about not giving up,'' he said.

NOTES: RHP Vicente Padilla was sent to Los Angeles to have an MRI done on his elbow after he felt some soreness, Mattingly said. The Dodgers hope to have the results Wednesday. ... The first full-squad workout ended Tuesday with a lengthy lecture on base-running by Davey Lopes, the former great Dodger base-stealer who is the new first base coach.

Tagged: Dodgers, Jay Gibbons, Marcus Thames

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