Abreu back in Dodgers' lineup

Abreu makes return to Dodgers lineup

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- The day before their getaway from Dodgertown, the Dodgers got back a key cog.

Tony Abreu, the young man without a position but not without an important role, saw his first game action since March 7. He played five innings of the Dodgers' 7-6 loss to the Marlins, with mixed results.

Assessments of how he felt after missing time with abdominal and buttocks pain depended on the source.

Abreu himself admitted still feeling a little sore when he ran. Bench coach Bob Schaefer thought Abreu looked good -- if a little tentative.

"When you come back from an injury, it's part of your thought process that you might hurt it again," Schaefer said. "He's got to gain confidence that he won't get hurt again.

"But I thought he looked good. He had to move quickly to tag up at third that time, and I thought he looked good."

In addition to ripping a second-inning single off center fielder Cameron Maybin's glove and working his way around to third to score on Derek Lowe's sacrifice fly, Abreu ran hard on a third-inning grounder, with shortstop Henley Ramirez's throw barely beating him.

Abreu, 23, roved around the infield as a rookie last season, seeing considerable action as third, short and second. A similar role awaits him in 2008.

Abreu will rest Monday, and plans are for him to be back in the lineup for Tuesday's Florida finale, in Jupiter against the Marlins.

"He's an important part of the team. He can do the little things for us. He has speed, a good range," Schaefer said. "There's no need to rush him."

Meanwhile, the injured veterans of the infield -- third baseman Nomar Garciaparra (wrist) and second baseman Jeff Kent (hamstring) -- both had intense workouts Sunday morning and are due to rest Monday.

Garciaparra took a spirited round of batting practice in the morning, later participated in infield drills, then planned to beat the rest of the Dodgers out of Florida.

Garciaparra left camp while the game was still in progress, on his way to a Phoenix reunion with the Dodgers squad returning from its goodwill trek to China.

The returning group of Dodgers, who will end camp at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, the Spring Training base of the Tokyo-bound Oakland A's, have an off-day Monday and will resume workouts Tuesday. Garciaparra will join those workouts, while the States-locked Dodgers will complete their Grapefruit League slate a road game against the Marlins before heading to Arizona.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.