Schmidt Won, But Is He The Fifth Starter?

It had been 765 days since Jason Schmidt had last taken the mound in a regular-season major-league game, and it had been 838 days since he had last won one. But Schmidt, in an unlikely development that became even more unlikely in the first inning, hit the reset button on both of those figures.

After a shaky beginning that had to make more than one observer wonder if Schmidt's career was circling the drain -- he gave up three runs on four hits before recording so much as an out -- the veteran settled in and shut out the Reds on one hit the rest of the way. It was a remarkable five-inning performance that netted Schmidt his first victory since April 4, 2007.

After getting out of the first inning, Schmidt got a lift when the Dodgers bounced back with four runs in their half off Micah Owings.

Schmidt wasn't exactly dominating thereafter. He hit a batter and walked two consecutive batters in the fourth inning. But he didn't allow another runner past second base. He wound up throwing 91 pitches, 56 of them for strikes, and struck out two batters.

Though he clearly didn't have anything close to the velocity on his pitches that he had before shoulder problems sidelined him for more than two years, he displayed a veteran savvy that allowed him to keep the Reds' hitters off balance for the most part.

But can a major league starter survive with an 87 MPH fastball? Greg Maddux did but everything he threw moved, fastball, slider, curve, everything. Can Schmidt duplicate, at least to some extent, the magic of Maddux?

Schmidt should get at least one more start to prove he can help the club and he is expected to make Sunday against Florida.

Çolletti Interview
Dodgers GM Ned Colletti was interviewed on Sirius XM Radio recently by Seth Everett and Jim Duquette. Asked about whether or not the Dodgers rotation still needs upgrading:

"If we're assuming that everybody's healthy from here on out, I would say that our top priority would be a bullpen piece, especially somebody with veteran stature. I think that would be No. 1. If we can find a starter that's obviously better than who we have starting now, that would be No. 2.

The number of names that have been tossed around out there that we've made contact with clubs that would definitively make our starting rotation better ... it's a very, very short list. It might be a longer list in the bullpen. We're concentrating on both, and hopefully will be able to do one if not both between now and July 31."

Asked if a trade for Roy Halladay would be too expensive and if he would take the Dodgers out of the running:

"Whenever you have a player that is of that caliber, the price better be high. It deserves to high. It better be high. Is it too high? Well, we'll know if it's too high, the world will know if it's too high in another three-plus weeks.

"Any time you're talking about people who are at the top of a profession and what they do, and if they're going to get moved by and large although you do have salary issues that come into effect now more than they have in the past because of the economy and the instability of the financial world, it's still an expensive get talent-wise because there's not many people that are as good as he is."

Asked to evaluate Juan Pierre as bench insurance or a trading chip:

"It's a very interesting dynamic. First of all, I got more respect for Juan Pierre than pretty much any player I've ever been around for a long, long time. Without Juan Pierre, this team does not survive the 50 games of Manny. He brings so much to the club. He's here early every day. He works hard. He loves to play. He is an everyday player.

"When Manny came back, everyone said, ‘Well, we won't see Juan Pierre again.' Well, we've seen Juan Pierre every game since Manny came back. I think Joe's comfort level with Juan is such that we'll continue to see more and more of Juan Pierre."

Oh, that Manny!
One day after being knocked out of a game when he was hit by a pitch, Manny Ramirez pinch-hit for starting pitcher Chad Billingsley and deposited the first pitch three rows deep into the left field stands, giving the Dodgers all the runs they would need. At the end of the inning, Ramirez stood on the top step of the dugout and raised his helmet to an adoring crowd, then headed up to the clubhouse, his work done for the night.

Immediately after the home run, Ramirez stood in the dugout exaggeratingly bobbing his head up and down to mimic his bobblehead doll, for which a sellout crowd of 56,000 had shown up to receive the gift. The dolls were sponsored by a local casino after Kaiser Permanente had withdrawn its initial sponsorship on the grounds that as a health organization, it didn't want to be seen as condoning a player who had been suspended for 50 games for violating baseball's drug policy.

ROSTER REPORT
--INF Doug Mientkiewicz was expected to be out until at least September after dislocating his right shoulder in a headfirst slide into second base on April 16, but it now appears he will return the first week of August. Mientkiewicz left Wednesday for the Dodgers' spring training facility in Glendale, Ariz., where he will rehabilitate through the weekend. He then is slated for a four-game rehabilitation stint with Class AAA Albuquerque beginning Tuesday, and he told the Los Angeles Times his goal for returning to the majors is an Aug. 4 game against Milwaukee at Dodger Stadium.

--RHP Ronald Belisario threw a bullpen session Tuesday, and he is expected to begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment next week. Belisario has been on the 15-day disabled list since July 8 with an elbow strain. The usually reliable reliever finally admitted to club officials that he was hurting after back-to-back bad outings July 4-5.

--RHP Cory Wade threw a bullpen session Tuesday, and he is expected to begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment sometime next week. Wade has been on the 15-day disabled list since July 16 with a shoulder strain. This is his second DL stint this season, with both of them the result of shoulder-related issues.

--When Matt Kemp scored all four of the Dodgers' runs in a 4-3 victory over the Astros, he became only the second player in the last 40 years to score every one of his team's runs in a game in which his team scored at least four runs, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The other player to do that was Eric Davis, who scored four runs for Cincinnati in a 4-3 win at Pittsburgh on Aug. 24, 1990

--LHP Scott Elbert was optioned to Albuquerque to make room on the roster for Jason Schmidt. Elbert seemed to have put it all together, and had made three appearances since his most recent call-up on July 11, pitching five scoreless innings. Two of those outings had been especially helpful to an overworked bullpen. He pitched 2.2 hitless innings at Milwaukee on July 11 after starter Jeff Weaver lasted just 3.1. Then he pitched two shutout innings on against Houston after Chad Billingsley couldn't get out of the second inning.

--LHP Eric Milton was transferred to the 60-day disabled list to clear a 40-man roster spot for Jason Schmidt. Milton underwent a procedure on his lower back that is expected to keep him out for the rest of the season. Milton had made six starts for the Dodgers, his first in the major leagues since he underwent "Tommy John" surgery in 2007 while with Cincinnati.

QUOTE TO NOTE:
"When I try to drive the ball, the power will come from that, but it doesn't necessarily have to. The process is (that) you're trying to drive the ball, and it could go out of the park. But it's not thinking, 'OK, I'll hit for power' on a certain pitch." -- Dodgers first baseman James Loney, responding yet again to the widespread opinion, including that of manager Joe Torre, that he needs to hit more home runs.

*M*A*S*H* 4077 Medical Report
--RHP Cory Wade (right shoulder strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 11.

--RHP Ronald Belisario (sore right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 6.

--LHP Will Ohman (sore left shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list May 29. He began a rehab assignment with Class A Inland Empire on June 16, but he was shut down June 24 due to an ailing elbow. He still cannot throw without pain.

--OF Xavier Paul (staph infection) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 21.

--LHP Hong-Chih Kuo (left elbow strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 30. He began a minor league rehab assignment June 30

and was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 3.

--INF Doug Mientkiewicz (dislocated right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list April 17, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on April 30. He had surgery April 20, and he is unlikely to return before September.

    ROTATION:
   LHP Randy Wolf
   RHP Chad Billingsley
   LHP Clayton Kershaw
   RHP Hiroki Kuroda
   RHP Jason Schmidt
   BULLPEN:
   RHP Jonathan Broxton
   RHP Guillermo Mota
   RHP Ramon Troncoso
   LHP Brent Leach
   RHP James McDonald
   RHP Jeff Weaver
   RHP Claudio Vargas

    CATCHERS:
   Russell Martin
   Brad Ausmus
   
    INFIELDERS:
   1B James Loney
   2B Orlando Hudson
   SS Rafael Furcal
   3B Casey Blake
   INF Juan Castro
   INF Mark Loretta
   INF Blake DeWitt

    OUTFIELDERS:
   LF Manny Ramirez
   CF Matt Kemp
   RF Andre Ethier
   OF Juan Pierre

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