Dodgers Now

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Category: Jack Taschner

Scott Podsednik starts and bats leadoff; Dodgers designate reliever Jack Taschner

Newly acquired outfielder Scott Podsednik not only arrived in time for the Dodgers’ afternoon game in San Diego Thursday, but was inserted into the lineup -- in the leadoff spot.

Manager Joe Torre moved Rafael Furcal from leadoff to the second spot after first discussing the move with Furcal, who he said was fine with it.

This gives the Dodgers two speedsters at the top of the lineup and should help generate some offense -- some offense representing a grand improvement these days.

Podsednik is starting in center, Torre electing to give Matt Kemp the day off.

To make room for Podsednik, the Dodgers designated Jack Taschner for assignment. Which just goes to show how quickly in this bullpen one can go from being the late-inning, left-handed specialist to heading out of town.

Taschner’s departure again leaves George Sherrill sharing the late-inning responsibilities when the Dodgers would prefer not to use Hong-Chih Kuo on consecutive days. Torre had appointed Taschner his late-inning left-hander only a week ago.

The season has been a struggle for Sherrill, but he has retired his last six consecutive batters.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Dodgers beat Mets, 3-2, in 13 innings

Dodgers1_586

The Dodgers faced a disaster Saturday at Chavez Ravine, just what they needed.

His name was Mike Pelfrey, a pitcher for the New York Mets, or so the media guide stated. But in truth, Pelfrey hadn’t been much of a pitcher lately, statistics indicated. In fact, he had been historically awful.

Entering Saturday’s game, Pelfrey was the first National League pitcher since 1900 – that’s right, 1900 – to allow more than 50 baserunners (walks, hits, hit batsman) while recording fewer than 50 outs over a four-game span.

The slumping Dodgers, who were 3-7 in their previous 10 games, couldn’t have hoped/prayed for anything better. But they managed only two runs against Pelfrey, and the the L.A. bullpen (not surprisingly) blew that lead.

Then, each bullpen tussled it out into the 13th inning, when James Loney hit a walk-off home run against  Oliver Perez to give the Dodgers a 3-2 win before an announced crowd of 43,506 at Dodger Stadium.

The game started off well enough for the Dodgers. Mets shortstop Jose Reyes lost a Rafeal Furcal ground ball in the sun in the first inning. Then Pelfrey threw the ball away on a pickoff attempt, and Furcal advanced to third. He later scored on Xavier Paul's sacrifice fly, giving the Dodgers a 1-0 lead.

The Dodgers added another run in the fourth inning when Blake DeWitt tripled and catcher Brad Ausmus, who was playing in his first game since April 8 after being out because of back surgery, singled him home.

Carlos Monasterios, the Dodgers’ No. 5 starter du jour, held up his end, throwing five innings of shutout ball, giving up six hits and one walk. But Dodgers Manager Joe Torresaid before the game that Monasterios, who was making his seventh start, would likely throw only 80 to 90 pitches.

And when Monasterios hit that 80-pitch mark, the Dodgers pulled him for reliever James McDonald, who started the sixth inning.  

Things started to unravel from there.

McDonald gave up an RBI single to Mets catcher Rod Barajas and got yanked for Jack Taschner, who lasted two batters, the second of whom singled to tie the score.

Travis Schlichting replaced Taschner and got an inning-ending double play. Then Schlichting was replaced by Kenley Jensen, the 22-year-old former catcher who had never pitched before last season and was called up from double-A Chattanooga on Friday.

Jensen pitched an impressive 1-2-3 seventh inning, then came All-Star Hong-Chih Kuo, who gave Torre a 1-2-3 eighth, even though it was the fourth time he had pitched in five days.

Closer Jonathan Broxton, who suffered from food poisoning earlier this week, pitched a hitless ninth and 10th inning, and Jeff Weaver didn't give up any hits either in the 11th or 12th.

The Dodgers offense, though, had struggled to that point, and failed to score in the 12th even after getting runners on first and third and no outs. But Loney's home run, which came on a 90-mph fastball with the count 1-0, made up for all that.

The Dodgers close out their four-game series with the Mets on Sunday at Dodger Stadium. Clayton Kershaw (9-5, 3.15 ERA) will face Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (6-4, 2.73 ERA).

-- Baxter Holmes

Photo: Matt Kemp grabs James Loney after the Dodgers first baseman hit a game-winning home run in the 13th inning Saturday and was engulfed by teammates. Credit: Jeff Gross / Getty Images

Vicente Padilla gives Dodgers another strong start, but this time it's not enough as Mets win, 6-1

Dodgers1_300 This time, strong starting pitching wasn’t enough for the Dodgers.

Vicente Padilla (pictured at right) gave them a third consecutive outstanding start, but was outpitched by the Mets’ Johan Santana. All that before the Dodgers bullpen imploded.

So the Dodgers' mini-winning streak was snapped at two, the Mets rolling on to a 6-1 victory Friday that returned the Dodgers to six games behind the San Diego Padres in the National League West.

There was little more that Padilla could have done. Save for one pitch to Ike Davis, he was just as masterful as starters Chad Billingsley and Hiroki Kuroda had been before him.

Padilla went seven innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits. He struck out six and did not walk a batter. Fifty-five of his 77 pitchers were strikes. During one stretch, he retired 17 consecutive Mets.

Padilla (4-3) was simply continuing his recent string of strong outings. In his last six starts, he has a 1.30 earned-run average.

The Mets, however, got to him for an unearned run in the first.

Jose Reyes led off the game with a double. Luis Castillo was able to beat out a bunt for a single to put runners on the corners.

Padilla struck out Angel Pagan and David Wright, but on the latter Castillo took off for second. When catcher Russell Martin fired to second, Reyes broke for home.

Martin’s throw was on line and Pagan would have been out for an inning-ending double play … except Dodgers second baseman Blake DeWitt dropped the ball for an error.

There was nothing unearned about the Mets’ second run. Padilla tried to throw one of those slow, looping curveballs past Davis and the first baseman waited patiently and rocketed it into the left-field pavilion for his 14th home run.

With Mets outfielders making a series of outstanding catches, Santana had the game in control for New York.

Like Padilla, Santana (8-5) wasn’t messing around, consistently throwing strikes. He gave up one run on five hits in his seven innings. Of his 98 pitches, 74 were strikes.

The only run the Dodgers scratched together off Santana came in the fifth when Martin led off with a double, advanced to second on a DeWitt groundout and scored on Jamey Carroll’s flyout to shallow right.

After the starters called it a night with the Mets clinging to a 2-1 lead, New York broke the game open against the Dodgers' bullpen.

Manager Joe Torre utilized four different relievers, all of whom struggled. Jeff Weaver walked two and James McDonald allowed a sacrifice fly and an intentional walk.

New left-handed specialist Jack Taschner then looked a lot like the old left-handed specialist (George Sherrill), walking the left-handed Davis.

Travis Schlichting’s first pitch was then lined by Jason Bay for a bases-clearing double.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

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

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

The strange, awkward case of Dodgers reliever George Sherrill continues

The Dodgers had a left-handed reliever warming up in the ninth inning Wednesday, but it wasn’t George Sherrill. It was Hong-Chih Kuo, who’s had four elbow operations and had thrown two innings the night before.

They added another left-handed reliever to their roster Wednesday in journeyman reliever Jack Taschner.

Meanwhile, the guy who is supposed to be their star left-handed reliever, who absolutely was last season, sits in limbo. Sits wondering. Sits knowing he has cleared waivers.

Sherrill has suffered a mysterious fall, going from a guy who had a 0.65 ERA last season to one carrying a 7.48 ERA this season.

Plenty of guys clear waivers unclaimed during the course of a season. Most, though, never know about it. The list is normally a highly guarded secret. Sherrill’s name, however, somehow leaked out this month.

It’s made for an awkward situation for the Dodgers, but mostly for Sherrill.
"Unfortunately, that got out," said Manager Joe Torre. "Our conversation [with him] included a lot of things, but I think the fact that he had to sit and explain it or talk about it was more uncomfortable than the fact that it happened.

"But he’s part of this team and we never really wanted him not to be part of this team. We’re always looking to try and make him better, and that’s what we’re trying to find the answer to, and he was always a part of that conversation."

Some are confused as to why Sherrill remains with the Dodgers if he’s cleared waivers. But that only means the Dodgers can now send him to the minors without him being claimed, not that they have to. He could go the rest of the season on their 25-man roster.

Yet if he continues to pitch the way he has -- his fastball flat, struggling to not only get out right-handed hitters, but left-handed ones too -- how long can the Dodgers carry him? How far can their patience go?

Particularly now with two other left-handed relievers on the squad.

Sherrill has said he would go down to the minors if the Dodgers thought it best but otherwise loathes the idea, fearing he may not return. He could refuse and become a free agent.

Torre said he would not ask Sherrill to go to triple-A Albuquerque unless he saw the potential benefit, unless he was willing. He said they had discussed it.

"That was part of the conversation, but this is something that he needs to feel that would help or he would want to do it," Torre said. "It was never something that was demanded. It was more a conversation, how are we going to get this machine working again."

Meanwhile, Sherrill waits, searching for signs he’s about to get that feeling back. Sits in the clubhouse almost daily working crossword puzzles, Sherrill right now the Dodgers’ largest puzzle of all.

-- Steve Dilbeck
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