“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 at Milwaukee. Meanwhile, Saito laid to rest any rumors that he was considering retirement last winter after posting 24 saves in what officially was 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. 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 if he had returned to Japan would have been prohibited from pitching for a professional club there because the Dodgers retained rights to him. “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.” Feeling fine 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 after last season. But LaRoche said he is fully recovered now, 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. But if he doesn’t, LaRoche will begin the season at Triple-A Las Vegas so he can continue to develop by playing regularly instead of riding the bench for long periods in the majors. First day 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 just off the clubhouse for a stretching-and-warmup routine. In the past, players were required to trudge all the way to the back fields, about 200 yards away, for morning stretch. “It’s mostly logistics because the (stretching) program we’re going to have will require us to come back into the clubhouse afterward before starting our baseball activities,” manager Grady Little said. The brief intermission will give players a chance to change into their spikes after their stretching routine, which will require regular-soled shoes. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! VERO BEACH, Fla. – The Dodgers’ first significant player injury this year – the player is significant, but the injury isn’t – happened 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. 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. “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,” said Saito, with traveling secretary Scott Akasaki translating. “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.