Bedard to start Dodgers' first Cactus League game

Veteran lefty expected to provide insurance for top five in rotation

Bedard to start Dodgers' first Cactus League game

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Dodgers will get an early look at non-roster veteran pitcher Erik Bedard, who will start the exhibition opener against the White Sox on Wednesday and turn 36 on Thursday.

The left-hander, who is a former staff ace and was a 15-game winner for Baltimore in 2006, was pitching for Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman with Tampa Bay last year until being released in August. He's insurance for the Dodgers in case something goes wrong early with one of their top five starting pitchers.

"I've played a long time and I'm older," Bedard said. "This is a younger generation and I've accepted it. I'm OK with it. I don't throw 95 [mph] anymore. But I feel I can still help. When it's over, it's over. But at the end of the day, the game is still fun to play. Sometimes you can get down. But at this point in my career, that's not my mindset. I'll help however I can."

With 71 career victories, the Canadian is the most accomplished of a group of starting pitchers that will fill out the Triple-A rotation if Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson start the season healthy.

The list: Mike Bolsinger, Carlos Frias, Zach Lee, Chris Reed and Joe Wieland. Chad Gaudin could be in that group if he doesn't make the Major League bullpen, and Brandon Beachy might join at midseason as he returns from a second Tommy John surgery.

Bedard said he has learned to get by with fastballs in the high 80s after undergoing three shoulder surgeries.

"I know the velocity is down, but I can still be effective," he said. "I just can't throw fastballs down the middle. Nibble at the corners, change speeds, study the scouting reports. Pay attention to that and you can get away with less velocity."

• Kershaw will start the Dodgers' second game of the spring on Thursday against the White Sox, manager Don Mattingly said Saturday. The Dodgers have split-squad games on Friday, but Mattingly didn't announce starters for either game.

Greinke (elbow) and Ryu (back) are behind schedule. McCarthy threw a bullpen session Saturday, will face hitters next and then pitch a game. Anderson is on a modified schedule early in camp as a precautionary measure.

Ken Gurnick is the Los Angeles Dodgers beat reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.