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Dodgers activate Hong-Chih Kuo, option Kenley Jansen to double-A [Updated]

May 1, 2011 | 12:26 pm

Photo: Dodgers reliever Hong-Chih Kuo works against the Giants in the season-opening series at Dodger Stadium last month. Credit: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times Ah, the penalties of youth. The Dodgers activated left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo prior to Sunday’s game, which you might have suspected meant the end to Lance Cormier’s days with the Dodgers.

Alas, Cormier is a veteran without options left. When the Dodgers asked him if he would be willing to accept a minor-league assignment out of spring training, he said he’d rather become a free agent. Not wanting to lose him, they put him on the 25-man roster.

Where he has hardly blossomed. He is the last man in the bullpen, due largely to his 10.13 ERA.

Still, even after activating Kuo, the Dodgers elected to hang on to Cormier and send rookie Kenley Jansen to double-A Chattanooga [Updated, 1:05 p.m.: The Dodgers originally announced that Jansen would go to triple-A Albuquerque.]

"The biggest mistake Kenley has made is, he has options at this point," said Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly. "Really, he’s been pitching good. But that being said, there’s still room for improvement. You’d like for him to develop a more consistent second pitch.’’

It’s one of those odd, circumstantial player moves, but that doesn’t mean it is necessarily bad for Jansen.

He has been pitching slightly better lately, but he has hardly been pitching like the hard-throwing kid who came up last season and put up a 0.67 ERA, with an even 1.00 WHIP.

This season, Jansen owns a 7.43 ERA and a 1.58 WHIP.

Either hitters have started to figure him out or he’s not in his finest condition. Either way, he could benefit from a stretch in the minors. Mattingly said he’d like Jansen to continue to develop his breaking ball and an off-speed pitch.

"It gives him a chance to go back down and keep working and get better,’’ he said. "We look at Kenley as a big part of our future. At some point this year, he’ll be back here. Kenley is a guy who really has a chance to be special.’’

Jansen can also be groomed as a closer. Mattingly said he wanted him used in late-inning pressure situations. Previously a catcher, he’s only been pitching for slightly over a year.

Which is the last thing Cormier will ever see with the Dodgers. At least when he actually is seen. He hasn’t pitched since April 22. He is mostly a garbage-innings pitcher, someone used when the game is out of hand so other more valuable arms aren’t wasted.

"He understands his role,’’ Mattingly said. "We use him to protect everybody else. There are days we’ve abused him, keeping him in there two or three innings.

"It is a valuable piece.’’

Cormier had a 3.92 ERA in 60 games for Tampa Bay last season.

Mattingly said he would prefer to use Kuo, who was out with back strain, to start an inning initially. He now gives them one left-hander in the bullpen.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers reliever Hong-Chih Kuo works against the Giants in the season-opening series at Dodger Stadium last month. Credit: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

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