Saito stopped running for four weeks, then tried again last week in Los Angeles. But when he did so, he felt a recurrence of the pain. Although it was less severe this time, Saito felt compelled to report the injury to the Dodgers’ medical staff. Until further notice, Saito will be held out of any spring-training drills involving running. But that is merely a precautionary measure. He is still cleared to throw off a mound, something half the team’s pitchers will do for the first time today. VERO BEACH, Fla. – The Dodgers’ first injury this year occurred on the other side of the globe. A few weeks after signing a one-year, $1 million contract to remain with the club, closer Takashi Saito was jogging in his native Japan on Jan. 15 when his right calf gave out. But out of a sense of fairness to a player who had been a four-time all-star during his 14 seasons in Japan, the Dodgers did give Saito a deal that could pay him up to $1.3 million if he maxes out his performance bonuses by finishing 60 games. “I never thought about retiring,” said Saito, who would have been prohibited from pitching for a professional club if he had returned to Japan. “From the very beginning, I knew I wanted to re-sign with the Dodgers. I told my agent to get me a fair deal, but at no point did I ever even think about what I would do if I didn’t sign a contract. I wanted to sign here, and I never thought about the alternative.” Andy LaRoche, one of the organization’s top position prospects, reported early because he is coming off arthroscopic surgery on his left (non-throwing) shoulder. But LaRoche says he is fully recovered, and club officials will spend the spring evaluating whether he is ready to play third base every day in the majors. LaRoche, 23, believes he already knows the answer. “In my own head, obviously, I am ready,” he said. “I think every player believes that.” LaRoche has a chance to beat out incumbent Wilson Betemit for the job. Pitchers and catchers will hold their first workout of the spring this morning, but the routine will change slightly with the arrival of new trainer Stan Conte. Following the usual team meeting each morning, players will go to the Holman Stadium outfield close by the clubhouse for a stretching-and-warmup routine. [email protected] (818) 713-3607 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “When it happened a second time, I really wanted to make sure I took care of it so I didn’t have to worry about it,” Saito said through translator Scott Akasaki, the club’s traveling secretary. “That’s why I told the trainers. They don’t want me to cover bases or take part in any (drill) that has to do with running. “With anything else, I can go full speed.” The injury is believed to be so minor that Saito won’t have any trouble being ready for the April 2 season opener in Milwaukee. Meanwhile, Saito laid to rest any rumors that he was considering retirement last winter after posting 24 saves in what was officially his rookie season. Saito made it clear after last year that he wanted a contract that paid him well in excess of the going rate for a second-year player, something the Dodgers were under no obligation to do.