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Garciaparra works out in Phoenix

Garciaparra works out in Phoenix

PHOENIX -- The nomadic Dodgers went through a light workout at Phoenix Municipal Stadium on Tuesday, joined by injured third baseman Nomar Garciaparra, who took batting practice despite lingering soreness in his bruised right hand.

While the other half of the club was wrapping up its Grapefruit League schedule, manager Joe Torre watched the contingent he took to China work up a sweat in perfect desert weather, if not ideal training conditions. The club will use Oakland's Minor League facility on Wednesday and play its first Cactus League game on Thursday.

Garciaparra, who has not played in a game since being hit by a pitch on March 7, said he will continue hitting through the discomfort rather than shut it down and allow the hand to weaken. He played with a similar injury during the 2000 season. Garciaparra underwent a recent MRI and X-ray that showed no structural damage.

"It's definitely getting progressively better," said Garciaparra, who left Florida early. "The swelling is down. I'm throwing pretty good. It's just the way the bat sits. That'll be the final hump. I have to keep hitting and keep the motion going."

Second baseman Jeff Kent, sidelined since March 5 with a strained hamstring, will be out a little longer. He had a cortisone injection on Monday and it is hoped he will be able to play by the weekend.

General manager Ned Colletti said he is "not yet" concerned that either infielder will miss the start of the season, but if things haven't changed in a week, "that's a little different."

Manager Joe Torre said he has not made "my toughest decision" regarding outfielders Juan Pierre, Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp, who are contending to flank center fielder Andruw Jones in right and left fields. Nor has there been a decision on the fifth starter, where Esteban Loaiza and Chan Ho Park appear to be the finalists.

"We have a lot of work to do in a short period of time," said Torre, who planned to debrief coaches that were arriving from Florida during a Tuesday night dinner. "We've got 12 days to figure it out. This week we'll have a lot of meetings and figure out what to do and what makes sense."

In a roster move, the Dodgers reassigned Jason Johnson, a non-roster right-handed pitcher who was a long shot candidate for the fifth-starter job. There are now 44 players in camp.

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

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