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Dodgers Web musings: It's true, spring is in the air

February 22, 2011 | 12:55 pm

It's spring, which means unfiltered optimism, troubles left to history, the future bright.

Even before the first full-squad workout Tuesday, positive thinking ruled Camelback Ranch for the Dodgers.

How they go this season figures to largely depend on how Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp step up and elevate their games. At least their 2010 games.

Ethier is now not only healthy but apparently willing to discard his nobody-really-loves-me routine to step forward as a team leader.

Ethier told The Times’ Dylan Hernandez that he recognizes the Dodgers need a boost in team leadership, and he is now willing to provide it.

"You overlook yourself as a presence on the team," Ethier said. "I have to come to grips with that and accept that."

Meanwhile, Kemp had his first interesting interview with The Times’ T.J. Simers, who is still waiting for the explosively talented outfielder to have the kind of impact on L.A. that Clippers rookie Blake Griffin has had.

Kemp told Simers he is better off now for his struggles from last season.

"I'm mentally stronger," Kemp said. "I just know you can't play this game frustrated or mad; you've got to be loose and have fun."

Also on the Web:

-- OK, it isn’t all positive energy from Camelback -- where’s a good Russian mystic when you need one?

Word came early Tuesday that Vicente Padilla was headed back to Los Angeles to have an MRI -- they don’t have those machines in Phoenix? -- on his elbow. It’s the same injury that bothered him last season. Going with an incentive-laden contract must look pretty good about now.

-- In other old/new injury news, the Toronto Star’s Mark Zwolinski says Scott Podsednik’s plantar fascitis has flared up again and so he won’t be able to open camp with the Blue Jays. The Dodgers picked up their half of a $2-million option on Podsednik this off-season but he turned down his half and ended up signing for $500,000 with Toronto; it jumps to $1 million if he makes the team.

-- True Blue LA’s Eric Stephen says the $4.2-million contract the Dodgers offered catcher Russell Martin this off-season was not guaranteed. He got a guaranteed base of $4 million with the Yankees.

-- CBS Sports’ Danny Knobler said it’s exam time for Don Mattingly as a manager.

-- Vin Scully Is My Homeboy’s Roberto Baly has an early word on a new Mattingly biography.

-- ESPN LA’s Jon Weisman thinks Clayton Kershaw is poised to explode as a superstar.

-- Opinion of Kingman’s Performance’s Evan Bladh is convinced he has come up with the greatest idea of his life for the Dodgers.

-- Yahoo.com’s David Brown gives his spring preview of the Dodgers.

-- Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness’ Mike Petriello
looks at the Dodgers' potential batting order now that Mattingly has said Ethier will bat third and Kemp cleanup.

-- Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal said Manny Ramirez has lost 12 pounds from a year ago and seems determined to resurrect his career.

"I love the game. I like to compete," Ramirez said. "I just want to show that I still can play. That’s my mind-set."

-- Former Dodger Dusty Baker is entering his 18th season as a manager, and the Reds skipper told Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci he still believes he can win his first World Series.

"Hey, my time is coming," Baker said. "I always believe that -- and more than one."

Optimism is everywhere.

-- Steve Dilbeck

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