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Ramon Troncoso's comeback bid for Dodgers will have to continue in the minors

March 27, 2011 | 11:59 am

Once he was this great find, this surprising sensation who had unexpectedly made himself a valuable part of one of baseball’s best bullpens.

Then … what?

Ramon Troncoso still looked the part of a great, young, right-handed reliever early in 2010. Then it began to slip away, and he has struggled ever since to find himself.

Even after a strong start this spring, he could not keep it going. And on Sunday, he was optioned back to the minors.

This hardly means the end for the 28-year-old Dominican, but he will once again have to try to right himself at triple-A Albuquerque, something he could never truly do there last season (5.73 ERA, 1.55 WHIP).

There had been concern that Joe Torre had gone to him too often last April (15 appearances in a 21-game stretch, though only 13 innings) and worn him out.

Then Troncoso had started so well this spring (no earned runs in his first 4 1/3 innings), it appeared he was back on track. Some already gushed he had made the team.

But in his last five appearances, he gave up six earned runs (10.80 ERA) and was once again headed back to the minors.

Since the Dodgers released Ron Mahay and optioned Travis Schlichting back to the minors Saturday, the final bullpen spot will apparently come down to left-hander Scott Elbert or right-hander Lance Cormier.

The Dodgers would prefer to have Elbert as a second lefty in the bullpen, but after an encouraging stretch he gave up three runs in one-third of an inning Saturday and now has a 7.50 ERA this spring.

In eight innings this spring, Cormier has a 2.25 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP.

-- Steve Dilbeck