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Notes: First batting practice goes well for Carl Crawford

Throwing is sure to be the final hurdle for rehabbing Dodger Carl Crawford.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Throwing is sure to be the final hurdle for rehabbing Dodger Carl Crawford.

Carl Crawford took his first live batting practice session of the spring on Sunday, observed by Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, general manager Ned Colletti, president Stan Kasten, and assorted other front-office executives in Glendale, Ariz.

Crawford had been hitting in the cage, but this was the former Red Sox outfielder’s first regular batting practice since undergoing Tommy John surgery on his left elbow in August.

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“I was really surprised,” said Mattingly. “For the first time in open space, that’s just a lot different, and I’m sure he doesn’t feel good, but I thought he was good.”

Crawford, who was acquired from Boston along with Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett, wasn’t complaining.

“For the first day, didn’t feel too bad,” Crawford said. “Maybe it was the group of hitters, but it went better than I expected. It feels normal hitting.”

Throwing will be the final hurdle for Crawford, who remains on a conservative program designed to build arm strength.

“Still going slow there,” he said. “I have good days and bad days throwing. That part is still a little shaky. But I’m throwing on my program every other day and make 20 throws on the days in between to stay loose.”

Jeter determined

Derek Jeter had a miserable offseason he would rather forget.

Not only did the Yankees captain not win another World Series, his season ended when he had to be helped off the field because of a broken ankle.

‘‘Absolutely terrible,’’ Jeter said on reporting day for Yankee positions players. ‘‘Mentally it was rough, too, but more physical. I was stuck on the couch for a good five, six weeks where I couldn’t really move around too much. I had a little scooter to move around. It was not fun.’’

The 38-year-old broke his left ankle lunging for a grounder in the AL Championship Series opener against Detroit, and had surgery a week later. He could start running on a field in the next couple days and expects to be ready for Opening Day against Boston on April 1.

‘‘Why wouldn’t it be realistic?’’ Jeter said. ‘‘I’m right where I’m supposed to be. Opening Day, yeah, it’s been a goal all along. I don’t want to make it seem more dramatic than it is, but you’ve got to learn to walk again.’’

Helton apologizes

Calling his recent drunk driving arrest a ‘‘monumental mistake,’’ Rockies first baseman Todd Helton fought tears as he apologized Sunday and asked for forgiveness at the start of spring training.

Helton was arrested Feb. 6 on charges of DUI and careless driving.

‘‘Obviously, the last place I want to be on the first day of spring training is here talking about a mistake I made,’’ Helton said. ‘‘Last week I got behind the wheel of my truck after I had drank. All I can do now is apologize and ask for forgiveness. I spoke to my teammates today and they were very supportive.

‘‘I’m very grateful to my wife, my family, my teammates, and the Colorado Rockies organization for their support. I am determined to learn from my mistakes, and I’ve gotten help.’’

Helton didn’t elaborate when asked about what kind of help he will receive.

Manager Walt Weiss watched as Helton fielded questions.

‘‘I think that’s important that he had an opportunity to put some closure to the whole deal,’’ Weiss said. ‘‘Like I said right after it happened, Todd’s built up a lot of goodwill and respect with this club and in the community. We’ve all needed a little grace from time to time. He stepped up, he faced the music, and now it’s time to move on and play baseball.’’

Garza strains back

Cubs righthander Matt Garza suffered a mild back strain on his left side while throwing batting practice to teammates and is expected to miss at least a few days of practice. Whether it will delay his start to the regular season, team officials said they would know more about his prognosis after he is examined again Monday. ‘‘It looks like a mild lat strain,’’ manager Dale Sveum said. ‘‘We’ll see what happens when he wakes up and see where we are a little bit more [Monday]. But it’s subsided, and he seems to be doing a lot better now.’’ Garza got halfway through his throwing schedule when he felt a twinge, and left the field with the trainer. ‘‘The ball felt good coming out of my hand. I think that’s what I’m most upset about,’’ said Garza . . . Nick Swisher returned to camp with the Indians after leaving the team to attend his mother’s funeral. Swisher left the Indians last week following the death of his mother, Lillian Marie Malizia, who died in Columbus, Ohio, following a second battle with leukemia. She was 63.

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