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Dodgers add their fifth starter with signing of right-hander Jon Garland [Updated]

November 26, 2010 | 12:34 pm

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And that’s called a five-man rotation.

The Dodgers are immediately better off than they were last season -- or even last spring, April, May, June or July -- after The Times’ Dylan Hernandez reported the signing Friday of right-hander Jon Garland to their rotation.

This is a return trip for Garland, who pitched briefly for the Dodgers after being acquired from the Diamondbacks Aug. 31, 2009.

Garland went 3-2 with a 2.72 ERA in six starts with the Dodgers, before then signing in the offseason with the Padres. Last year he went 14-12 with a 3.47 ERA for San Diego.

Unlike last season, when the Dodgers struggled to identify a fifth starter almost the entire year, they will now enter spring with a set rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly, Hiroki Kuroda and Garland.

That’s pretty impressive as a group, and now allows General Manager Ned Colletti to focus on his team’s other needs -- namely adding a run-producing bat and fortifying a disappointing bullpen.

Garland, 31, went to Kennedy High School in Granada Hills. For his career, he is 131-114 with a 4.32 ERA. His 3.47 ERA last season was the lowest of his career. He won 18 games in consecutive seasons for the White Sox in 2005-06.

Terms of his contract with the Dodgers have yet to be announced.

Colletti went into the offseason assured of having only Kershaw and Billingsley in his 2011 rotation, but has now signed Lilly, Kuroda and Garland.

[UPDATED at 1:30 p.m.:] The Dodgers announced Garland had signed a one-year contract, with a club option for 2012. The option becomes vested if he pitches 190 innings next season.

"We’re very pleased to have Jon join this group and give us five very strong starters going into spring training,'' Colletti said in a statement. "We saw what Jon was capable of down the stretch in 2009 and again last year within our division. Year after year, he takes the ball 30-plus times and gives his team a chance to win every time out.''

[Updated at 4 p.m.] Garland signed for $5 million, with another $3 million available in performance-based incentives.

Including a $300,000 buyout, Garland made $5 million last season from the Padres. He turned down his side of a mutual option for 2011, passing on a guaranteed $6.75 million.

"I’m excited for the opportunity to come back to L.A.,'' Garland said. "I think it’s a ballpark that plays to my style of pitching. And I’m excited to be joining this staff. At the beginning of the offseason it was a little uncertain, but now it’s looking like a damn good staff.

"I feel like I have a lot to offer and this is the best place suited for me."

The Dodgers now have five starters who all won at least 10 games last season.

Colletti said he believes it is the club's best overall staff during his six seasons with the Dodgers.

"We had four of what you would consider guys with a history behind them, but I can’t recall having five that have the ability to make 30-plus starts and throwing as many innings,'' he said.

"We set out to improve our rotation. I think adding Jon kind of caps it off in a good way, with five guys capable of throwing 190-plus [innings], starting 30 games-plus and winning 10-plus."

Colletti said he would next focus on adding another bat, relief pitcher and determining the catching situation.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Jon Garland pitching for the Padres last season. Credit: Doug Pensinger / Getty Images.

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