It’s getting down to it now, the final decisions coming more sharply into focus.
The bullpen, at first almost without vacancy and then practically hosting open tryouts after the injury to Vicente Padilla and Ronald Belisario’s Venezuelan vanishing act, is now locked up.
And outside again is Scott Elbert.
Not the way the Dodgers wanted it to happen, but seemingly the unavoidable call now. He had his opportunity this spring, but could not seize it. It was more struggle, more wildness, more of the same issues that had plagued him during his three brief stints with the Dodgers.
As much as the Dodgers would like to have a second left-hander in the bullpen, Elbert’s spring numbers (9.00 ERA, 10 walks in eight innings) can’t justify keeping him. Even if that was their plan only a few days ago.
At that point, it was Lance Cormier who was apparently the odd man out. The Dodgers asked him to accept a minor-league assignment. But Cormier, a veteran of seven major-league seasons, had an out in his contract and wasn’t interested. He had a card to play and did. The Dodgers knew that, of course.
"I signed here to pitch in the major leagues," Cormier told Dodger.com’s Ken Gurnick on Sunday.
Cormier appeared in 60 games for the Tampa Rays last season, finishing with a 3.92 ERA but a serious WHIP of 1.645.
Still, this spring he has been very effective (2.00 ERA, 10 hits, two walks in nine innings), while Elbert has not.
Cormier almost did the Dodgers a favor by refusing to accept his minor-league assignment. Now they can use that as an excuse for keeping him and sending Elbert -- who has options remaining -- back down.
Elbert did not seem to accept a demotion well last season after struggling in his only appearance in May. Soon after he left triple-A Albuquerque for the rest of the season for what was described as a personal issue.
Elbert, 25, is a 2004 first-round pick, he’s left-handed and can be very impressive. The Dodgers are not about to give up on him. And at this point, it would seem he could benefit from returning to Albuquerque and demonstrating he is serious about reclaiming his career.
-- Steve Dilbeck