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Scratch one from fifth-starter consideration: Joe Torre says James McDonald looks like reliever

March 17, 2010 | 11:48 am

It looks like the Dodgers’ fondest hope for filling the fifth spot in the rotation, James McDonald, isn’t going to happen.

Dodgers-mcdonald_400 Joe Torre told reporters Wednesday afternoon that "McDonald looks more like a bullpen guy."

This is the same right-hander who was given the fifth spot last spring but, after going 1-1 with an 8.78 ERA in four starts, was moved to the bullpen for the rest of the season.

He went 4-4 with a 2.72 ERA out of the bullpen, so Torre is probably on to something.

Still, it has to be disappointing that McDonald didn’t show enough this spring to remain in serious contention for the fifth spot. He’s only 25, and aside from Carlos Monasterios (24 next week) and Charlie Haeger (26), the other candidates are 30 or older -- Eric Stults (30), Russ Ortiz (35) and Ramon Ortiz (36).

"Stults and Haeger haven't done anything to hurt their chances," Torre said. "I don't think anybody for sure is on the team."

McDonald’s youth and promise made him a nice fifth-starter candidate, and if he’d pulled it off, he would have set himself up with a nice future in the rotation. After only two -- and the emphasis is on two -- spring appearances (six earned runs in four innings on eight hits and three walks), the Dodgers have apparently seen enough to make a decision.

McDonald isn’t likely to start the season at Triple-A Albuquerque, so along with Jeff Weaver, he gives the Dodgers two middle relievers who could also be swing guys if needed.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: James McDonald. Credit: Chris McGrath / Getty Images