GLENDALE, Ariz. – Blake Hawksworth knows he's in no position to make any demands about what role he'll have this year on the Los Angeles Dodgers pitching staff.
"After playing eight years in the minors, I'm not dumb enough to have a preference," Hawksworth said. "I just want to be on the team."
Hawksworth is part of a large group of relievers in camp vying for a spot on the Dodgers' opening day roster. If he makes the club, it will probably be in long relief.
Manager Don Mattingly said Hawksworth also could develop into a setup reliever, a role he had with the St. Louis Cardinals last year.
He'll need a strong spring to win the job over relievers like Ramon Troncoso, who had a 4.33 ERA in 52 appearances for the Dodgers last year, or Carlos Monasterios (4.38 ERA in 32 appearances).
Another candidate for that role is Ronald Belisario, who has yet to report to spring training. Belisario is still in his native Venezuela, reportedly due to a lost passport. The Dodgers have repeatedly said they don't know when, or if, Belisario will make it to camp.
Acquired in an offseason trade with the Cardinals, Hawksworth is coming off a year in which he appeared in 45 games, starting eight. The 27-year-old right-hander went 4-8 with a 4.98 ERA a year ago. In 2009, working strictly as a reliever, Hawksworth was 4-0 with a 2.03 ERA.
"Out of the pen, he's more aggressive and attacking and we kind of think that's where he fits best," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "I know he's started a lot in the past and I don't want to rule him out as a possible guy who could do that, but I look at him more as a reliever."
Hawksworth understands that in order to make the team, he needs to be willing to jump into any spot, just like teammate Vicente Padilla.
The Dodgers' opening day starter last year, Padilla will likely start the season as a reliever who remains available for an emergency start.
"In the experience I've had, when given the ball you take it. I'm not worried if it's the sixth or whenever," Hawksworth said. "I know I'm versatile in that role. If Padilla goes three or four innings one day and picks another guy up, I'm able to come in and pick him up. I think that helps."
Hawksworth called his most recent bullpen session, "my best in a while." What made it even better was when Mattingly stepped into the batters' box to get an up-close look.
"That was weird. Just because, it was Don Mattingly, man," Hawksworth said. "Just to see him dig in was cool. I could see him tracking the pitches. He could still probably put a good swing on it."
Mattingly stood in the box for many of the pitchers doing their bullpen sessions, something he plans on doing a lot of during the spring. He says gives him a better perspective of what kind of movement and location the pitchers have.
Mattingly said the Dodgers are excited about Hawksworth's velocity out of the bullpen.
"We got the reports out of the minor leagues that this guys is throwing 90-91 with a good changeup. But he was like 95-96 out of the pen and with a filthy change-up. We think he's going to be a solid part of that bullpen depth."
NOTES: Heavy rains in the Valley of the Sun on Saturday and Sunday forced the Dodgers to do all of their work in the covered batting cages on Sunday. The pitchers worked on fielding drills and did their normal bullpen sessions in the cages.