Outlook: Crawford could provide value for Dodgers

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford stepped it up another notch in his comeback from an elbow injury, taking live batting practice from Major League relievers J.P. Howell and Kenley Jansen on Tuesday.

Crawford took 19 pitches from Howell, swung at eight and hit nothing hard.

He improved when facing Jansen,taking eight pitches, swinging at seven and hitting four hard.

"I thought he was pretty good today," manager Don Mattingly said. "He gets like 10 at-bats. That's five Spring Training games."

Crawford still hasn't resumed throwing, which is the major hurdle for his surgically repaired elbow. But Mattingly pointed out that Crawford's recent setback occurred after he took batting practice off Major League pitchers, so how he feels on Wednesday will be telling.

"Tomorrow's a big day for us," Mattingly said.

Crawford said his elbow, which has experienced nerve irritation in his slow return from Tommy John surgery, "felt all right."

He said it took a little while to adjust to the greater speed from big league pitchers compared to the batting practice he's been taking from coaches. But he added that his timing "isn't as far off as you'd expect it, either."

"It was a good day, a step in the right direction," he said.

Crawford resumed hitting on Thursday after taking a week off to calm down the nerve irritation. The medical department is increasing his drills methodically to avoid, or pinpoint the cause of, any recurrence in the discomfort that is not unusual for Tommy John surgery.

The calendar, however, is working against Crawford in his goal to be ready for Opening Day, as he will need time, once he starts throwing, before he's ready to make a strong throw in from left field without risking overuse.

Adrian pulled from return with upset stomach

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Except for having to send Adrian Gonzalez home with an upset stomach after only two at-bats, manager Don Mattingly thought the Dodgers came away from a 6-2 loss to the Reds Tuesday night better than the score indicated.

Starter Josh Beckett was solid in 4 1/3 innings with five strikeouts. Mattingly also felt Ted Lilly deserved a better fate for his 2 2/3 innings of relief, which were marred by four unearned runs after what was ruled a throwing error by Gonzalez's replacement at first base, Scott Van Slyke.

Matt Kemp struck out three times while going 0-for-4, leaving him 2-for-17 with eight strikeouts in his return from shoulder surgery. But Mattingly insisted he isn't worried, recalling that Kemp had a rough spring last year, then hit .412 in April.

"He just needs at-bats. Matt's fine," said Mattingly. "He needs to get his balance and see more pitches."

Lilly -- whose return from shoulder surgery has been interrupted by a lingering cold and a storm that limited his last start to two-thirds of an inning -- said he had trouble throwing his breaking ball for strikes. But he threw more than 50 pitches in relief and believes that will help him catch up.

"I'm at a point where I should be ready to start the season," Lilly said. "Obviously, there's still things I'd like to work on and fine tune. But I'm healthy."

Mattingly said he thought the ball was coming out of Lilly's hand well and he should have escaped the four-run eighth inning with less damage.

Beckett, who allowed a home run to Shin-Soo Choo, has been charged with only that run on four hits in 9 1/3 innings this spring.

"He's been good. He seems even sharper now," Mattingly said of Beckett. "I don't know if it's the time off or what it is, but he looks good."

Paco Rodriguez retired the two batters he faced after relieving Beckett during the fifth inning with a runner on second base.

Dodgers shift Barden, Luna, Moore to Minors camp

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Dodgers reassigned non-roster invitees Brian Barden, Omar Luna and Jeremy Moore to Minor League camp on Tuesday, reducing the numbers of players in Major League camp to 48.

Barden, an infielder who has had callups with three clubs over four previous seasons, was hitting .478, but there is no room for him with the surplus of infielders on the Dodgers roster.

Moore missed the 2012 season with hip labrum surgery and needs to more reps than big league camp can offer. He was scheduled to appear in Tuesday night's starting lineup, but was replaced by Cuban sensation Yasiel Puig.

Dodgers, Yankees earn Bobby Murcer Award

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Baseball Assistance Team named the Dodgers and Yankees as recipients of the 2013 Bobby Murcer Award.

Named after the former B.A.T. chairman who introduced the Spring Training Fundraising Tour, the award is given to the team in each league whose players commit the most money to B.A.T.

This is the fifth consecutive year that the Yankees have won the award and the third time in four years for the Dodgers. Both clubs will be presented with the Bobby Murcer Award at the 25th annual "Going to Bat for B.A.T. Fundraising Dinner" in 2014.

Players from the 30 Major League clubs donated a record $2,457,710 during the B.A.T. Spring Training Fundraising Tour. In the past 11 years, Major Leaguers have donated more than $15 million.

Through charitable contributions, B.A.T. confidentially assists members of the baseball family, including former Major League players, managers, coaches, scouts, umpires, athletic trainers, front office personnel, as well as Minor League players, Negro League players, players from the Women's Professional Baseball League and widows, spouses and children, ages 23 and under.

Palmer out 6-8 weeks following knee surgery

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers non-roster pitcher Matt Palmer underwent arthroscopic left knee surgery in Phoenix Tuesday, and he is expected to return in six to eight weeks.

The surgery to clean up a medial meniscus was performed by Dr. Brian Shafer. Palmer's knee locked up while walking after playing catch on Saturday.

Palmer had a 3.60 ERA in three spring appearances, having allowed nine runs (seven unearned) in five innings, his outings marred by several errant pickoff throws. He allowed nine hits.

Palmer, a 33-year-old right-hander, has pitched parts of the past five seasons in the Major Leagues, including briefly for San Diego last year, and he went 11-2 for the Angels in 2009 as a swing man.

Palmer was assigned to Minor League camp.