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Dodgers GM Ned Colletti all outward patience as trading deadline approaches

July 23, 2010 |  7:07 pm

The days tick past, the pressure builds, and Ned Colletti shrugs. He’s leaning against a wall outside the Dodgers clubhouse. He looks up at a group of reporters, hands in pockets, cell phone chiming in his pocket, reposed as can be.

"You have to exercise patience," Colletti said.

The Dodgers are a team in need, in a competitive division where the addition of a key player or two before the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline could make all the difference.

The Dodgers could use a starting pitcher, either at the front or back of the rotation. They could use a middle reliever. And with Manny Ramirez becoming more difficult to count upon, they could use an outfielder.

The assumption is that Colletti is hamstrung by the McCourts’ divorce, that a major move that would require taking on a lot of additional salary is beyond his grasp.

"That depends on what a lot is," he said. "If it makes sense as a baseball deal, we’ll do it. Am I going to take on exorbitant salary and give up a fist full of prospects -- I wouldn’t do that on any circumstances."

His main focus had been acquiring a reliable starting pitcher;  the team lacks an ace and a fifth starter.

But with George Sherrill unable to return to form, Ramon Troncoso struggling and back in the minors, and Ronald Belisario on the restricted list and reportedly in a substance abuse program, a steady middle reliever is also a need.

Colletti said Friday that he did not know when Belisario would return, or even whether he would be back this season at all.

"I don’t know," he said. "I don’t know have the answer and I’m not telling you, I just don’t have it."

The Dodgers’ bullpen is so unsettled that Friday they called up right-hander Kenley Jansen, who has been pitching for less than a year. Jensen was a catching prospect converted to pitcher last summer.

And then there is the outfield, where utility infielder Jamey Carroll has been starting this week in left, what with Manny on the disabled list for the third time this season. With Reed Johnson also on the disabled list, suddenly another outfielder is of interest.

"A little bit, but not to the extent of pitching," he said. "The outfield has become a little more of a concern than in the past, not  just because of Manny but also because Reed Johnson."

Last year, Colletti brought in Sherrill at the trading deadline, and later Vicente Padilla. The year before, it was Manny and Casey Blake. He has a history.

But this season, the pitching needs are clear in the rotation and bullpen.

"Wherever a potential deal will take us," he said. "If it was one or both, you do it. If it’s only one, we’re not going to pass it up because it can’t fill the other one."

Colletti has a reputation for not always returning other teams’ phone calls, though he joked Friday that it was completely opposite this year.

"I don’t owe anybody a call," he said. "Everybody owes me a call. And that’s a good thing."

-- Steve Dilbeck