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Amid injuries to stars, Dodgers can count on steady Adrian Gonzalez

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GLENDALE, Ariz. - Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly never worries about Adrian Gonzalez. He doesn't have to. The first baseman is always available.

"An everyday player," Mattingly said.

Gonzalez has been a sturdy player throughout his career. Last season he played in 157 games, 15 more than anybody else on the Dodgers during a season in which injuries to centre fielder Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez contributed to big-spending Los Angeles' falling short of its goal of reaching a World Series.

"Being able to stay healthy is a blessing," said Gonzalez, who played at least 160 games in each of four successive seasons from 2007-10 when he was with the San Diego Padres. "That's one part of it. The other part is that my body has been built for the long haul."

The Dodgers are already dealing with injuries. Cuban defector Yasiel Puig has been having pain in his right shoulder. An MRI revealed some inflammation, but Mattingly says it's not believed to be serious. Puig had similar problems periodically last season. Still, the dynamic outfielder took batting practice Saturday, but has cut back on his throwing drills.

Gonzalez, who trains in the off-season with Chris Byrd, a former heavyweight champ and a 1992 Olympic silver medallist , had 22 home runs and 100 RBIs while hitting .293 last season. Along with Puig, a midseason arrival, he helped lead the Dodgers to the AL West title after an awful start.

Much of the Dodgers success came without Kemp and Ramirez on the field.

"Every team has to deal with injuries," said Gonzalez.

But, yes, Gonzalez said, there were "a lot issues." Without them, he said, the Dodgers might have reached the World Series instead of falling short in the NLCS against the Cardinals.

It was hard to sit through winter and think about how close the Dodgers came from a trip to the Fall Classic. But it also created a deep hunger to get there in 2014, Gonzalez said.

"There were things we could have done to make it happen," he said. "Every year, we make the commitment. If we didn't, why are we here?"

NOTES: Outfielder Carl Crawford had his wisdom teeth pulled. . Pitchers didn't work Saturday. Mattingly gave them the day off. . Juan Uribe, who spent some time at first base last year, will stay primarily at third base this spring. "I think he has solidified himself there," Mattingly said. . Dee Gordon arrived at Camelback Ranch weighing about 170 pounds, 20 heavier than he was last year. He's trying to add some power. He's also in camp with a couple of more options. A shortstop last year, Gordon played second base and centre field in winter ball. He's among the Dodger possibilities at second. More options mean more chances at making the opening-day roster. "Versatility, with this league, you can't have enough of it," Mattingly said.

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