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Winter Meetings Notes, Day 2



A quick wrap-up of manager sessions from Tuesday.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said that Kemp is on track to be ready for Opening Day following shoulder surgery. The plan for Kemp calls for him to begin hitting again in late December or early January, and he's expected to be ready for the start of spring training in some capacity. Once he begins hitting again, it should become easier to monitor his progress as the procedure was on his left (non-throwing) shoulder.

Mattingly confirmed that Brandon League will open the season as the Dodgers' closer, citing his dominance in the second half and acknowledging that Kenley Jansen was dominant for most of the year as well.

"We know Kenley is a beast back there, but we still kinda think he's better set up for that seventh and eighth innings, knowing that he's going to grow into that other part of it, and there's going to be a day where he's the guy."

If there was any confusion about League's role amidst recent reports that he could be a $7.5 million setup guy, this should effectively end that. Given the circumstances of the Dodgers being a team that is clearly all-in to win a championship in 2013, it's not difficult to envision a scenario where Jansen manages to overtake League if he struggles.

On the left side of the infield, the plan remains to use Luis Cruz at third base and Hanley Ramirez at short. Just your regular reminder that plenty can change between December 4th and Opening Day.

Chad Billingsley is progressing well in his rehab and according to Mattingly, the team appears to have "dodged a bullet." After the season ended, there were fears that he would require Tommy John surgery due to a partially torn UCL, but that no longer appears to be the case.

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke attributed returning from injury to Rickie Weeks' disappointing season in 2012, and suggested that Weeks could potentially slide back into the leadoff spot with Norichika Aoki then moving to the two-hole.

For the Brewers, the questions are mostly centered around the pitching staff. The bullpen is still an ongoing rebuilding project, and it appears to be a four-man battle for the final three spots in rotation with Mike Fiers, Wily Peralta, Chris Narveson and Mark Rogers all in the picture.

Of that group, Fiers seems like the safest bet to open the year in the rotation. Peralta seems to have an inside track over Rogers, and can secure his place during spring training if he pitches well.

If Narveson is not healthy when the season begins, it's a moot point at least initially. Roenicke said that Narveson recently threw a pair of simulated innings in Arizona, and that command is going to be his biggest obstacle coming back from rotator cuff surgery.

Roenicke did not mention Tyler Thornburg when discussing the six pitchers in the mix for the rotation, and there was no indication of him being ticketed for the bullpen.

In order to create more opportunities for at-bats, Mat Gamel will spend some time working at other positions - including the outfield during spring training. With Carlos Gomez's leap forward last season, it appears that Corey Hart is staying at first base and Norichika Aoki is the everyday right fielder.

From our Twins beat writer Peter Schoenke:

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire mostly deflected talk about which pitchers the Twins were trying to acquire this offseason and said that he was content with Minnesota's decision not to talk about a contract extension until after the season.

Gardenhire said he was comfortable with the decisions of both Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau to play in the World Baseball Classic. "These guys are both healthy enough to do these things."

With the trade of Denard Span, Ben Revere will move to center field and Gardenhire appeared excited that Chris Parmelee could become the right fielder saying "we need to find him at bats."

Gardenhire also said Brian Dozier will be given a shot to win the second base job this spring.

And for his bullpen, he also added that Perkins will be his closer and jokingly added "and hope to get 50 to 60 saves."

Follow me on Twitter @DerekVanRiper.

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