LAD@CHC: Beckett exits with soreness in right thumb

MESA, Ariz. -- Dodgers pitcher Josh Beckett left Friday's start against the Cubs after three innings with an aggravation of a right thumb contusion.

Beckett sprained the thumb of his pitching hand nearly two weeks ago when it was slammed by a clubhouse door, and he has been trying to pitch through it.

"It's not getting worse, but not getting better," Beckett said. "I'll probably see the doctor again. It's frustrating, but it could have happened at a worse time. Just dealing with it the best I can. If I need a couple days off, maybe I will. I don't want to fall too far behind."

The injury is on the inside of the base of the thumb near the joint. Beckett said it bothers him mostly throwing breaking balls, but in his final inning on Friday, he also was uncomfortable with fastballs. The original plan was to pitch four innings Friday, but trainer Stan Conte and manager Don Mattingly decided to cut it short.

Beckett becomes a prime candidate to open the season on the disabled list. He was not going to be needed in Australia anyway, and as the fifth starter, Beckett would not make a start until mid-April.

The righty took an extra day before throwing a bullpen session Tuesday after a game Saturday. In that bullpen session, Beckett threw only fastballs and changeups. He didn't throw a breaking ball until the second inning Friday.

Beckett is coming off thoracic outlet surgery, and he had not faced any setbacks. He held the Cubs scoreless on one hit with two walks and a strikeout, and said he was pleased at the ground balls he was inducing.

Improving Greinke could pitch in Minors game Monday

ARI@LAD: Greinke fans Jacobs in the first

MESA, Ariz. -- Zack Greinke threw a scheduled bullpen session on Friday morning, signaling continued improvement in his mild calf strain.

Greinke pitched two innings on Wednesday and is not expected to make the club's trip to Australia. Instead, he can stay at Camelback Ranch and pitch in a Minor League game, probably on Monday.

If management believes he will be ready to pitch one of the regular-season games against San Diego after the Freeway Series with the Angels, Greinke could be one of the three "exempt" players who can be added to the 25-man roster. If not, he could start the season on the disabled list.

Also on Friday, reliever Brandon League pitched in a Minor League intrasquad game. He said he might also pitch in a game Saturday to show he is ready to pitch on back-to-back days, although manager Don Mattingly was reluctant to confirm that.

Mattingly said League has been working on mechanical tweaks to improve the location of his pitches, particularly offspeed ones. He has struggled this spring, but League said he is not concerned about being squeezed out of a roster spot. He has two years remaining on his contract.

"I have no worries about being ready for Australia with the short spring," League said. "I've pitched for 10 years, I know how to prepare. I haven't thought that way [about a roster spot] at all. Isn't everyone competing in Spring Training? Competing for a job, competing for a role. It's a good problem to have for the Dodgers, but I've never been worried about it since I've had options."

Mattingly announced that Sam Demel, who had already been reassigned to Minor League camp, would start the day game of Saturday's day/night doubleheader, with Clayton Kershaw starting the night game.

Chad Billingsley continues his on-schedule rehab from Tommy John surgery. He will have a bullpen session this weekend, then begin facing hitters, and he could start a Minor League rehab assignment in April.

Struggling Puig shows frustrations after hitless game

Outlook: Puig has skill set to be five-tool player

MESA, Ariz. -- After his fourth hitless at-bat against the Cubs on Friday, Yasiel Puig shattered his bat against the dugout railing.

Puig is hitting .152 this spring, compared to .517 last spring. On Thursday, he went 4-for-10 batting every inning in a Minor League intrasquad game, but the success didn't carry over.

He was also charged with his second throwing error of the spring, and manager Don Mattingly conceded Puig is playing frustrated.

"A little bit," Mattingly said. "Yesterday, he was good. For him, he's just got to be patient, get good pitches to hit. You are what you eat. It's a matter of him getting pitches in the strike zone."

Mattingly was asked if Puig's confidence was wavering. Puig is nothing if not confident.

"Not really," Mattingly said. "I think Yasiel is a confident kid. This is a totally different spring for him. He's established himself. I'm not really concerned, as long as he continues to work. He was in the cage after that game yesterday. As long as that happens, I'm not worried about it."

Puig is homerless this spring, with three doubles, a .242 slugging percentage and a .167 on-base percentage. Last spring, Puig hit three homers and had 10 extra-base hits with a .828 slugging percentage and a .500 on-base percentage.