In fact, Beimel was so ready for spring training that he showed up early, along with several other pitchers. “The only time I have ever come to spring training feeling like I was guaranteed to make the club was in 2004 with Pittsburgh, and I ended up getting released at the end of camp,” Beimel said. “So I’m definitely not thinking that way this year, and I will never think that way again for the rest of my career. “I have to have a good spring, and I’m not taking anything for granted.” One of baseball’s little-known secrets is that one-year contracts, even those procured through the arbitration process, aren’t guaranteed. There are two deadline dates late in spring training by which a player can be released with the club owing a severance of just 30 days’ or 45 days’ salary. All that aside – and barring an injury – Beimel is a lock for the Opening Day roster whether he wants to believe it or not. And even though he lost his arbitration case, he still more than doubled his salary from $425,000 to $912,500. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t still running from his past. Beimel, one of the most important pieces in the club’s bullpen last season, missed the first-round playoff loss to the New York Mets after cutting his hand on a glass while drinking in a bar barely 36 hours before the series opener. And as painful as his absence was for the suddenly depleted Dodgers bullpen, it was doubly so for Beimel. VERO BEACH, Fla. – Joe Beimel sat alone at a table in the middle of an almost-empty clubhouse on Thursday and happily mixed himself a nutritional drink. Barely four months after his infamous absence from the playoffs and just six days after losing to the club in arbitration, the Dodgers left-hander showed no hint of bitterness or righteous indignation. “It was bad,” he said. “I certainly knew the situations when I would have pitched, and I kind of cringed every time one of them came up and I knew that’s when I would have been brought in. I also cringed listening to the broadcasters, because I knew they were going to point it out, and they did.” No rest: Matt Kemp, the Dodgers’ top outfield prospect who had a serviceable major-league debut last summer, spent almost his entire offseason playing for Estrellas de Oriente and then Licey in the Dominican Winter League. He now admits he was mentally drained after more than 11months of nonstop baseball. Still, he showed up at camp almost a week before position players are required to. “By the end of the Dominican, I was kind of through,” Kemp said. “But I have had three weeks now to get my mind cleared. I got here early because I wanted to work … on my outfield defense, mostly with taking better routes to balls.” Kemp said he found the grass in major-league ballparks last season to be generally shorter than in the minors, which caused him to struggle with cutting off balls hit on the ground. Big change: Forgive newly signed right-hander Jason Schmidt if he already is looking toward the end of his three-year contract. In 2009, the final season of Schmidt’s deal, the Dodgers are expected to move their spring-training operations to Glendale, Ariz., near Schmidt’s Phoenix-area home. For the past five springs, Schmidt reported to camp with San Francisco in Scottsdale, a daily commute from his house. This year, he was forced to leave behind a wife who is seven months pregnant and twochildren ages 6 and 9 to travel cross-country for spring training. “It’s just tough,” Schmidt said. “I grew up in a divorced family. From the time I was 8years old, I would see my dad only on weekends. When I didn’t see him for a week, it would seem like a year. Now I have to be away from my kids all spring. They are all coming out here in about two weeks, but they’re only staying for a week or two.” firstname.lastname@example.org (818) 713-3675 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!