VERO BEACH, Fla. – James Loney was talking, laughing and trying to be analytical after the daytime half of Wednesday’s Grapefruit League doubleheader, so there was no doubt he was alive. But the dark, orange circles ringing his irises made him look like one of the zombies from “Night of the Living Dead.” The Dodgers first-base prospect was wearing sunglass-tinted contact lenses, one of the latest innovations in optical wear. But even on a blindingly bright afternoon when the Dodgers fell 11-1 to the world champion St. Louis Cardinals before 4,525 at Holman Stadium, those uber-cool shades didn’t help Loney see any more clearly into his immediate future. “What I need to work on is (tracking) balls hit from that angle. When we take fly balls in practice, the guy hitting them is standing in the outfield with us. So one thing I want to start doing is having somebody hit me more fly balls from home plate,” said Loney, 22, the club’s first-round pick in the 2002 amateur draft. Ultimately, though, it might not matter. Loney’s spot on the team probably depends more than anything else on something far beyond his control – and far beyond anyplace his Grapefruit League statistics alone can carry him. After all, the first thing the Dodgers must have if they are to keep Loney is a roster spot to put him in. And that probably hinges on keeping only 11 pitchers, something the club likely will do because it won’t need a fifth starter until April 10. Saito returns Closer Takashi Saito, who has been limited in running but not in throwing by a strained right calf, made his spring debut, pitching a scoreless fifth inning. Loney had just played the entire game, going 3 for 3 with a walk to raise his spring average to .421 and his on-base percentage to .500. But he also had played the first five innings in right field, his first appearance there this spring but in no way his last, and he looked utterly lost in the process. Still, the ability to play multiple positions might end up being a deciding factor in whether Loney – the man who came to spring training perched more squarely on the proverbial bubble than any other Dodgers player – makes this club. Cutting remark Although he had previously said the camp roster probably wouldn’t be pared down until after the final split-squad on March 15, Dodgers manager Grady Little now says that first round of cuts might come later this week. “With 58 players, it’s going to get harder to get enough work for everyone,” Little said. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!