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There was nothing John Ely could have done; Dodgers send right-hander back to minors

May 7, 2010 |  7:02 pm

Johnely_600

That’s way too much love for Ramon Ortiz. Way too much for Charlie Haeger.

The Dodgers didn’t keep the best pitcher Friday, they just sent down the one with options left. I think they want to win.

John Ely (pictured above) could have thrown a perfect game Thursday night and apparently it wouldn’t have mattered.

As it was, he did give them their best start of the season. Which earned him a ticket back to triple-A Albuquerque just before Friday night’s game when the team activated reliever Jeff Weaver.

The Dodgers were careful not to make the announcement until after the media had to leave the clubhouse, so there was no immediate reaction available from Ely or an explanation as to what they would now do about a fifth starter.

Ely was just short of brilliant Thursday, retiring 16 consecutive Brewers at one point and taking a two-hitter into the seventh inning.

He was robbed of his first major-league victory when closer Jonathan Broxton couldn’t hold the lead in the ninth inning, but it was still a remarkable performance. Ely did not walk a batter.

This was Manager Joe Torre on Ely after the game: "I think he really showed you what pitching was about tonight. He basically changed locations, changed speeds. He had a very good hitting team pretty much eating out of his hand."

And as a reward, back to the minors Ely goes. This from a team that has been desperate to put a reliable rotation together all season.

But what ultimately mattered was that Ely, 23, has options left. They can send him down without fear of losing him. It was less about right now, and more about tomorrow.

Haeger (0-3, 6.56 ERA) is out of options. Torre has picked him to return to the rotation Saturday. Ortiz (1-1, 5.71) was signed as a free agent in the off-season and can opt out of his contract if sent down.

So there was risk in losing either if they were sent down. Would it really have been that big of a loss?

Ely earned another start by his performance. What more could he have done? And even with Haeger back in the rotation, the Dodgers are still down a starter with Vicente Padilla on the disabled list.

The Dodgers won’t need another starter until Tuesday. Maybe by then, the Dodgers figure someone else will be injured and they can call Ely back up.

Said Ely before the announcement Friday: "If I go back (to Albuquerque), I gave myself a good chance for a future call-up."

Regardless, with the current state and depth of the Dodgers’ rotation, it’s safe to say Ely will be back at some point. It’s almost guaranteed.

--Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers starting pitcher John Ely delivers a pitch in the second inning against Milwaukee on Thursday night at Dodger Stadium. Credit: Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times

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