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Dodgers activate Charlie Haeger and the clock may finally be ticking

June 3, 2010 |  6:09 pm
He’s baaaack …

That’s right, buckle up knuckleball freaks, Charlie Haeger was activated prior to Thursday’s game. Imagine the chills that must have gone through the Braves’ clubhouse.

For the moment, however, Haeger will not be starting. That, remarkably, is still coming, but for now his new role is Emergency Guy. I think that means he'll pitch when the Dodgers are already down by seven runs.

Manager Joe Torre’s fascination with Haeger is not over, however. He is going to get another start fairly soon, in what I suspect is his last-ditch effort for him to prove to Torre -- or is it Ned Colletti? -- that he is in no way the answer.

Torre said Carlos Monasterios, who’s been slow to win the manager’s affection, will likely get the next start when the fifth spot in the rotation next comes up Monday.

Haeger, who was on the disabled list with plantar fasciitis and then turf toe, was activated because the Dodgers burned out reliever Travis Schlichting with four innings of sterling work Wednesday and sent him back to triple-A Albuquerque.

"We activated Haeger more out of necessity than really wanting to at this point," Torre said. "I would feel a lot better if I was a little surer of his physical well-being, but after [Wednesday’s] game we’re kind of up against it."

Such a thrilling vote of confidence. But then, Haeger is 0-4 with an 8.49 ERA.

Meanwhile, the easy-throwing Monasterios is 2-0 with a 1.87 ERA and just threw five shutout innings Wednesday.

You would think this would be such an obvious decision it would make itself. But given that Monasterios had barely pitched above the class A level until this season, the Dodgers have gone very slowly with him.

"I just don’t want to all of a sudden anoint him and then put the pressure on him," Torre said. "We knew when we left spring training it was going to be a process involving him. We wanted to get him the experience, and get him opportunities where it could be a positive result.

"It’s not that I’m hesitant in any way, I just want to make sure we’re really careful with him and don’t all of a sudden count on him. Even though he’s certainly taken on more of a significant role."

All of this is not only tentative, but potentially very temporary.

There figures to be more movement on the pitching staff in the next couple of weeks. Reliever George "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" Sherrill is expected to come off the disabled list next week, and starter Vicente Padilla could come as soon as the following week.

"My thought is [Monasterios is] probably going to get the next start," Torre said. "But we still have to find out about Haeger. And as soon as I’m comfortable that physically he’s OK, we’re going to have to start him and just have some idea of what we have.

"It’s not that I don’t trust Monasterios. I think he’s answered a lot of questions. But we still have to make some decisions on pitchers … so we have to have some movement here and we’re going to have to make some decisions, and we want to get as much information as we can."

Almost sounds like they’re going to throw Haeger out there one last time to prove he cannot get it done. Somebody needs more evidence.

Haeger is a stand-up, competitive guy who would be the first to tell you he has pitched miserably. But he’s essentially a trick ball pitcher whose knuckleball hasn’t been tricky.

His time, I think, is running out.

-- Steve Dilbeck

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