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Stults being shopped as the fifth-starter dwindling continues

March 25, 2010 |  7:03 am
Ten days of spring-training games left for the Dodgers before it gets real, and do you know where your fifth starter is?

That traffic jam for the final spot in the Dodgers’ rotation may slowly be coming untangled.

Though Joe Torre has said a decision will come down to spring’s final days, the Dodgers appear to be narrowing their focus.

Dylan Hernandez reports that the Dodgers are shopping Eric Stults, who because he is out of options was a presumed slight favorite after James McDonald was sent down. Getting shopped is not being shown a lot of love.

If Stults is not in the Dodgers' plans, the fifth spot is down to Carlos Monasterios, Charlie Haeger and the dueling Ortiz Reclamation Projects.

Josh Lindblom remains an intriguing thought, but he may have appeared just enough like a young pitcher Wednesday against the A’s (two runs on three hits and two walks in two innings) to take him out of serious consideration. At least for the moment.

Despite a rough last outing, Monasterios looks like he’ll make the club, either as a starter or reliever. He spent most of last season coming out of the bullpen. And as a Rule 5 pick, it’s use him or lose him.

Haeger is in a similar situation because he’s out of options. Torre likes the knuckleballer and is stretching him out like he wants to start him. He threw 68 pitches in a minor league game.

It’s hard to truly believe in either Ortiz, given their recent history, but they continue to make their case. And at some point, you have to pay attention.

Ramon Ortiz hasn’t had an ERA under 5.00 in his last three major-league seasons and pitched all of last year in the minors.

Still, he has a 1.38 ERA this spring and has struck out 17 in 13 innings. Numbers that are hard to ignore, try as you might. He gets another start Thursday against the Brewers.

Then there is Russ Ortiz, another aging right-hander who hasn’t had an ERA under 5.50 in his last four seasons. He went 3-6 with a 5.57 ERA last season in 23 games (13 starts) for the Astros.

But he has a 2.08 ERA in four games and is looking surprising like the Ortiz who went 21-7 for the Braves in 2003.

With Ronald Belisario still lost in Visa Land and Hong-Chih Kuo still nursing his almost continually sore elbow, there could be room on the staff for guys who can start or relieve, such as Monasterios and Haeger.

-- Good news department: Ken Gurnick reports at that minor league hitting coach Lenny Harris was released from the hospital Wednesday.

Harris, baseball’s all-time leading pinch-hitter, had quadruple bypass surgery Saturday. He did not have a heart attack but did have blockage in four arteries.

-- Steve Dilbeck