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Versatile Jeff Weaver has a role going with Dodgers

July 6, 2010 |  7:17 pm
It’s Jeff Weaver situational pitcher, Jeff Weaver middle man, Jeff Weaver spot starter.

It’s Jeff Weaver, whatever you want him to be. Or at least whatever manager Joe Torre wants him to be. As in, a coach’s dream.

When the season started, it was clear the former starter would be used mostly as a situational guy. In his first 20 appearances, he pitched only 15 1/3 innings.

Lately, however, Weaver (5-1, 3.54 ERA) has begun to be stretched out. In his last nine games, he’s pitched 12 2/3 innings -- including 3 1/3 shut-out innings Monday  against the Marlins.

"I had a couple days off so I was probably the freshest to go out there and give a couple innings," Weaver said. "But I think we just try to fill in the blanks. Whatever’s needed, everybody’s prepared to throw situational or a couple of innings or whatever is needed. We have a lot of guys who have done a little  bit of everything this year."

Torre said Weaver’s long outing Monday was more out of need than that some design to return him to his starting roots.

"I am set against him [starting] right now," Torre said. "I don’t think there’s anybody whose place he should take at this point. I mean, [John] Ely certainly had a horrible start [Monday] night but he’s given us a whole lot more good than bad.

"And the fact that Weaver likes what he’s doing. He really likes coming out of the bullpen. And I think he’s done a lot for the bullpen guys just sitting down there with them, preparing them for coming into the game."

Weaver, 33, was a starter throughout most of his nine-year career until being converted to a reliever last season by the Dodgers. He made seven spot starts, but this season seems to be growing into his role as a reliever.

"It’s a different challenge," he said. "It keeps me on my toes. It’s still really new to me. I’m still trying to make adjustments on the fly.

"It’s a different rush, a different adrenalin rush when the [bullpen] phone rings and you’re up trying to get ready as quick as possible. I think I’m having fun dealing with those challenges."

Weaver’s versatility and willingness to play whatever role Torre needs has endeared him to the manager.

"You’ve heard so often where these guys, 'I don’t know my role. I want to know my role,’ " Torre said. "You pick up the phone and call his name, like the third inning or the eighth inning, he’s just out there sitting, waiting for you to tell him what to do. That to me is a good role model for the other guys around.

"When he came onboard here last year, he wanted to relieve. We did start him a couple of times last year, and he did it because we asked him to. But he seems to be much more comfortable here in this role."

-- Steve Dilbeck