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Dodgers will have to scramble to fill rotation void

March 9, 2011 |  5:03 pm

So like I was saying, aren’t things suddenly looking up for that John Ely?

Now, I’m a powerful fellow, but truth be known, I do not possess any particular soothsayer talents. Had absolutely no idea that less than two hours after posting that Ely could pitch himself back into the Dodgers' plans that yet another starter would go down.

On to Plan B! Whoops, make that Plan C.

The Dodgers went into camp all pleased that they had not only a solid five-man rotation, but Vicente Padilla at the ready when the inevitable injury hit one of their starting five.

That lasted about as long as a calm Charlie Sheen moment, Padilla throwing his elbow out almost before he could walk into the Dodgers’ Phoenix clubhouse.

And now comes Wednesday, right-hander Jon Garland injuring his oblique muscle in the second inning.

As The Times’ Bill Shaikin said, those types of injuries typically require a month’s recovery time, meaning the Dodgers are suddenly down to four starters and looking for a fifth. And Charlie Haeger’s not even available.

The most obvious in-house candidates are nonroster invitee Tim Redding and Ely, both of whom have yet to allow an earned run in their first three appearances this spring. Reliever Blake Hawksworth also started eight games for the Cardinals last year.

Redding is 33, and when last seen in the majors back in 2009 he was sporting a 5.10 earned-run average and a 3-6 record for the Mets. Not a lot of upside there.

Ely is only 24 but coming off a  Jekyll-and-Hyde season. Either that, or he’s just great out of the blocks and has nothing down the stretch.

But Ely has looked like the guy who unexpectedly caught the Dodgers’ imagination last May, and they’re going to have to have someone. They do have three days off in April, but there’s a stretch of 20 consecutive games, meaning that if they wanted to flirt early with a four-man staff, their starters would have to go on four days' rest on five consecutive starts. That’s not gonna happen.

The Dodgers have three weeks to figure this out, so it’s not  as if they have to decide today. But they’ll have to formulate a plan in spring reasonably soon. Even with a couple of early off days, they would at least need a fifth starter by April 12.

With three starters in their 30s, plus Padilla, injury in the rotation seemed inevitable. Three weeks into spring, though, is just a tad early. Garland had pitched at least 190 innings in his past nine consecutive seasons, so it’s not like he’s injury prone.

But there is an opening now, and a dwindling number to fill it. Opportunities, however, keep expanding.

-- Steve Dilbeck