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Dodgers bullpen remains entirely unsettled

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- With a sizeable payroll and a clear-cut weakness -- the bullpen -- the Dodgers became a beacon for seemingly every veteran reliever in the major leagues trying to fight his way back from an injury or a down season, or, in several cases, both.

Wednesday was a showcase of a few of those veteran pitchers, with Mike Adams, Sergio Santos and Dustin McGowan all pitching an inning of the Dodgers' 7-5 loss to the Chicago Cubs. Santos, a former closer for the Chicago White Sox, had the most eventful outing, striking out four batters in his inning (thanks to a wild pitch) while also allowing a run on two hits.

Adams and McGowan pitched scoreless innings, with Adams looking particularly effective while striking out touted prospect Addison Russell on a sharp slider.

Santos, 31, has shown good enough stuff -- including a 94 mph fastball -- to pique the Dodgers' interest though he and Adams are in stiff competition since they, unlike McGowan, are on minor-league contracts.

Santos had right shoulder surgery in 2012 and dealt with a strained triceps in 2013 and a strained right forearm last season, when he had an 8.57 ERA for the Toronto Blue Jays. He said he has felt strong and pain-free all through camp. He had pitched four scoreless outings going into Wednesday.

"I feel great about the way the ball's coming out of my hand right now," Santos said. "I have the confidence in myself to think that, if I'm healthy, I'm going to be able to help this team."

Closer Kenley Jansen will begin the season on the disabled list after having foot surgery just before camp began and Brandon League has been dealing with some shoulder soreness and is iffy for Opening Day, so the only locks for the bullpen, at the moment, are veterans J.P. Howell, Chris Hatcher and Joel Peralta. Juan Nicasio has the inside track on another spot.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said the team continues to gather as much information as it can before determining the composition of its bullpen, which continues to be a nagging concern.

"Still watching and not trying to make any decisions on anyone other than to see how it's coming out, see what kinds of swings we're getting, seeing if they're improving and if things are starting to come together," Mattingly said.