Haeger an ironman for Dodgers
Knuckleballer being used as both starter and reliever
LOS ANGELES -- Manager Joe Torre went into Friday night's game with Ramon Troncoso his closer, as he promised to rest closer Jonathan Broxton and Ramon Ortiz, each having pitched on the preceding three days.The wild card of the staff literally is knuckleballer Charlie Haeger. He started Sunday and pitched six innings. He relieved in Wednesday night's extra-inning loss with one scoreless inning. He's scheduled to start Saturday. "And you almost saw him last night," Torre said, having had Haeger warming up in the bottom of the ninth inning had that game gone extra innings instead of being won by Andre Ethier's walk-off hit. "He's poised. He throws enough strikes. I'm impressed. He can pitch more of the time than a reliever. It's not a power thing; he doesn't take long to warm up. In Florida, he threw 100 pitches and you look up and it means absolutely nothing." Torre joked that he doesn't want to use Haeger more frequently because of the stress it puts on catchers, not on Haeger. "I say it facetiously, but it's true," said Torre. Haeger said he's never been used regularly as both a starter and reliever and doesn't know what his threshold of appearances and innings would be.
Manny exits game early with tight calf
LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers left fielder Manny Ramirez left Friday night's game in the fourth inning with tightness in his right calf.Ramirez, 37, had grounded out in both of his at-bats and had no plays in the outfield. He was replaced by Reed Johnson. Ramirez came into the game batting .379 with one homer and eight RBIs, having played in eight of the Dodgers' nine games. He was scheduled to get Saturday, a day game after a night game, off.
Kuo, Belisario set to return soon
LOS ANGELES -- Barring something unforeseen, Hong-Chih Kuo and Ronald Belisario are likely to rejoin the Dodgers bullpen for next week's trip east.Kuo came out of his one-inning rehab start at Inland Empire on Thursday night feeling so good he played a firm catch Friday. He'll make one more Minor League appearance Sunday as a final test of his elbow. Kuo's importance is heightened because the lone lefty currently in the bullpen, George Sherrill, has been ineffective. Torre reiterated that Sherrill's command problems are not injury-related. "I'm sure something's cranky from time to time, but there's nothing we've been alerted to," said Torre. "We've never been notified that it's dangerous. I know he's going to be fine. Do I know it's going to be this week? That's what we've got to figure out." Belisario remains at the club's Camelback Ranch-Glendale complex and threw 25 pitches over two innings in his third game appearance Friday. Because he's on the restricted list, Belisario is not eligible for a rehab appearance, Torre said, so he will remain in Arizona until he's ready to be activated. He might need to make back-to-back appearances first. That most likely will be by April 25, the end of the 30-day window since he was placed on the restricted list. Because Belisario is out of the options, the Dodgers cannot send him to the Minor Leagues without the risk of losing him to another club.
Dodgers regulars to get rest vs. Giants
LOS ANGELES -- Manager Joe Torre plans to give most of his regulars either Saturday or Sunday off and a look at the historical stats might provide a clue as to who plays when.On Saturday, the Giants start two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum. Lifetime against Lincecum, third baseman Casey Blake is 0-for-9 lifetime with six strikeouts, catcher Russell Martin is 0-for-13 with four strikeouts and Matt Kemp is 1-for-12 with six strikeouts. But Ronnie Belliard is 3-for-6 against Lincecum, Garret Anderson is 2-for-4 and Blake DeWitt is 3-for-6. On Sunday, the Giants start left-hander Barry Zito. Lifetime against Zito, first baseman James Loney is 1-for-20 with six strikeouts and right fielder Andre Ethier is 3-for-18. But Belliard is 11-for-34, Anderson is 21-for-64, Jamey Carroll is 8-for-21 and Reed Johnson is 5-for-14.
Carroll, Johnson ready to catch in a pinch
LOS ANGELES -- Twice in the past four games the Dodgers have used both catchers Russell Martin and A.J. Ellis. What happens if they run out of catchers? Who's the emergency No. 3 catcher on this roster?"I'm still looking for volunteers," said manager Joe Torre. Here are two: infielder Jamey Carroll and outfielder Reed Johnson. Carroll, in fact, said he previously caught bullpen sessions while with the Colorado Rockies and did it frequently while in the Minor Leagues. "I'd have no qualms about it," said Carroll. "I'm sure it wouldn't be pretty. And if [knuckleballer Charlie] Haeger was pitching, it could be really weird." Johnson said he's never caught at any level, but would do it if needed.
Torre thinks game's pace could improve
LOS ANGELES -- One of 14 members of a committee appointed by Commissioner Bud Selig to review on-field issues in baseball, Dodgers manager Joe Torre said this week he's taken a new understanding of matters he used to be critical of, like the need to keep all clubs happy when putting together a schedule. He also defended the Yankees and Red Sox from umpire Joe West, who named the teams as two of the worst when it comes to moving games rapidly.After 30 innings amounted to 12 hours, 21 minutes of play for the Dodgers and D-backs at Dodger Stadium the last three games, Torre said Friday afternoon that his defense of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry doesn't mean there isn't improvement to be had. "I know that Bud, Commissioner, is very sensitive about improving the pace of the game," Torre said. "Not necessarily shortening the game, but the pace of the game. And I agree with it and I can understand his frustration with it -- the in and out of the batter's box stuff, which has become sort of habit. But as far as the length of the game, which I think we got caught up in, isn't as much an issue like the Red Sox thing."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. Evan Drellich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.