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Dodgers' staff in progress: Carlos Monasterios gets start Saturday, Jack Taschner replaces George Sherrill as late-inning left-hander

July 22, 2010 |  6:23 pm

In their never-ending quest to determine a fifth starter, the Dodgers are going back to rookie Carlos Monasterios for the third time this season.

If at first you don’t succeed ...

The currently very cozy bullpen is getting a minor makeover, with more to come, and probably soon.

Even with Reed Johnson's lack of progress, the Dodgers decided to go at least one more game without calling up another outfielder for Thursday's game against the New York Mets.

When the Dodgers sent catcher A.J. Ellis to triple-A Albuquerque on Wednesday, instead of calling up another bat, they brought up left-handed reliever Jack Taschner.

Manager Joe Torre said Taschner will take over George Sherrill’s role as the late-inning left-hander.

"He'll take on the left-handed specialist role at this point," Torre said. "We’ll use Sherrill earlier in the game and put Tas in the spot that [Sherrill] has been in until we get George to have enough good outings where he's confident knowing what's coming out and we are too.

"But we have to wait for that to happen. Up until that time, I think we need to use Taschner wherever it's called for later in the game."

Read: Sherrill was officially demoted.

The addition of Taschner on Wednesday left the Dodgers with 13 pitchers, and a bloated bullpen of eight relievers.

If the Dodgers can get through another game with a relatively unscathed bullpen, they probably would call up another right-handed bat, preferably an outfielder, by Friday.

"We certainly don't want to be at 13," Torre said. "Right now we'll stay there just until the bullpen stabilizes itself.

"I think it's realistic that in the next couple of days, we'll go back to 12."

Complicating the situation is Johnson, who is eligible to come off the disabled list Friday with a lower back strain, not progressing.

"We have no date right now for Reed Johnson," Torre said. "He's sort of stagnated there. It was getting better, getting better, but it’s not improving now. He’s not going backward, but he's not improving. He's probably going to be another week or so."

And then he probably will need to go on a rehabilitation assignment.

With Monasterios (3-2, 3.61 earned-run average) moving back to the rotation, James McDonald remains a middle reliever. McDonald has only started this season -- 12 games at Albuquerque and his outing Monday against the Giants in which he struggled (four runs on nine hits in five innings).

McDonald failed as the fifth starter at the beginning of last season, though he later found some success as a reliever. Torre, however, said the latest move doesn't mean that the Dodgers have determined that McDonald's future is as a reliever.

"Not necessarily," Torre said. "He was fine with it when we talked it. When you get at this level, you pretty much have to do what we need for the good of the team. At this point and time, I think that's where he's going to best serve us. He’s pretty durable, and he can come out of the bullpen and strike somebody out."

Somebody, however, will have to be sent down when the Dodgers call up a bat this weekend. If Taschner is now a late-inning guy, then the options are Travis Schlichting, Justin Miller (out of options) or McDonald.

And right now, with the lack of rotation depth, I'd rather have McDonald starting at Albuquerque.

Of course, other relievers could be called up (Kenley Jansen?) and the nonwaiver trading deadline is only a week away.

-- Steve Dilbeck