Gonzalez likely won't return until Classic

Dealing with elbow tendinitis, Dodgers star hasn't been cleared to hit

Gonzalez likely won't return until Classic

PHOENIX -- Adrian Gonzalez's first at-bat in a game could come next week for Team Mexico.

Gonzalez, who has been nursing right elbow tendinitis and has yet to be cleared by team doctor Neal ElAttrache to start hitting, is on track to begin hitting off a tee and participate in soft-toss hitting drills, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. Gonzalez is also working out in the gym and participating in conditioning drills, but he has not started taking ground balls.

"I don't know if it's out the window, but for me, I don't see it happening," Dodgers manager Roberts said of Gonzalez playing in Cactus League games before he joins Mexico's World Baseball Classic team. "If he can continue to progress ... obviously with Adrian, anything is possible. We're open, but for me, it's on the training staff. Once I get clearance from them, then obviously we can plug him in. But right now, I don't see it. But if it works out, great."

Mexico, which begins World Baseball Classic play March 9 against Italy in Guadalajara, Mexico, has a workout scheduled for March 6 and exhibition games against the Padres on March 7 and the D-backs on March 8. Gonzalez's older brother, Edgar Gonzalez, is the manager of Mexico's team.

"Now he's not feeling anything and I think that for us, with that [news, he'll] start ramping it up," Roberts said. "But having a bat in his hand is a good thing. I think he will be ready for the Classic."

Roberts added that the Dodgers are not worried about Gonzalez injuring himself while with Team Mexico.

"With Adrian, he's a different player. He's has a very good feel for his own body and he's a veteran player," the manager said. "As long as he gets the clearance medically from our guys, the performance goes on him and Team Mexico."

Jesse Sanchez, who has been writing for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.