Dodgers Scouring the World For Pitching

Dodgers scouting director Logan White was in the Dominican Republic on to get a look at Cuban defectors Yasser Gomez, an outfielder, and right-handers Yadel Marti and Juan Yasser Serrano, who were recently declared free agents. And an inability to fill the No. 5 starting spot has the Dodgers scanning the waiver wire.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Marti, 30, who twice led Cuba's Serie Nacional in winning percentage and made the all-tournament team in the first World Baseball Classic in 2006 after throwing 12 1/3 scoreless innings, is considered the top prospect of the three. White declined to discuss the showcase, but other scouts who were in attendance said Marti, who defected in December, was unimpressive, throwing 85-89 mph before pulling a groin.

White told The Times that the Dodgers also plan to check out left-hander Aroldis Chapman, who is in Spain after defecting from the Cuban national team in July. Chapman, 21, is a two-time Cuban league strikeout champion whose fastball was clocked at 102 mph during the second WBC last spring.

The Dodgers could be interested in Vicente Padilla, who was designated for assignment Friday by the Texas Rangers. Padilla, 31, was 8-6 with the Rangers this season, posting a 4.92 ERA. He had 59 strikeouts and 42 walks.

"They're looking," manager Joe Torre said when asked if the Dodgers were interested in starters outside the organization. "We've talked about the waiver wire, there's no question.

We are looking, and if we can improve we'll do something." Padilla led the Rangers last season with 14 victories and has reached the 14-win mark four times in his career. But not only was he making $12 million this year, he also has been known to have a volatile personality.

"When you have a solid group of people like we have, stuff like that doesn't bother me," Torre said.

The Boston Red Sox also designated pitcher John Smoltz for assignment. The veteran right-hander is not believed to interest the Dodgers despite his 2.86 ERA against them in 249 career innings (47 appearances).

ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney says some National League teams, as well as the Rangers, are interested in the veteran right-hander who was designated for assignment by the Red Sox.

Smoltz will take some time to mull his options, and ESPN baseball analyst Eduardo Perez says one will be to go back to the minor leagues for the Red Sox and concentrate on again being a reliever.

And lest you think considering Smoltz as a viable option, listen to what Eric Seidman of Baseball Prospectus has to say:

"Though he proved ineffective for Boston the, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Smoltz has other potential suitors. His strikeout and walk rates suggest he still has something left to offer a team, and he cannot possibly continue to serve gopherballs at this pace. Additionally, Smoltz is major league ready right now, unlike players of the Mark Mulder/Pu Byrd ilk, and he comes cheaper than the question mark that is Vincente Padilla."

MR. CLUTCH
He's going to also have to get it done in the postseason before being known as the best clutch performer in the game, but breaking down the late-inning prowess of the Dodgers' Andre Ethier provides some interesting perspective.

Ethier hit a three-run walk-off home run on a 2-0 count Thursday for a 5-4 victory over the Atlanta Braves. It was his third walk-off homer of the year and his fifth walk-off hit, the most game-ending hits in baseball this season.

"He's been incredible in that situation," manager Joe Torre said. "If you put him in a 2-0 count, the game slows down for him. That's pretty incredible. This kid hasn't played a lot of Major League Baseball. Just to have that kind of calm in those situations is pretty special." Ethier didn't even start on Opening Day last season, but the maturation of the 27-year-old has happened quickly. There's almost no late-inning scenario he doesn't relish.

The left-handed hitter is batting .274 this season, but that average goes up to .289 in the late innings of close games. In extra innings, he is batting .375. And in those late-inning close-game situations when he is ahead in the count, Ethier is batting an eye-popping .467 with two home runs and six RBIs in 15 at-bats.

Teams are going to have to pick their poison. Standing in the on-deck circle Thursday when Ethier won it was Manny Ramirez.

"Sometimes you have a tendency to over-attack (in clutch situations)," Ethier said. "But when you're ahead of the count 2-0 and Manny's on deck, they have to bring it to you."

NOTES, QUOTES
--Doug Mientkiewicz is now planning on returning to the Dodgers this month and making a comeback in September. He left for Albuquerque on a minor-league rehabilitation assignment Sunday. Mientkiewicz, who underwent shoulder surgery in April, will play seven games with Albuquerque starting tonight. Still unable to throw, he is scheduled to be the Isotopes' designated hitter.

--INF Tony Abreu had a short stay in the major leagues, getting sent back down to Class AAA Albuquerque on Sunday. He was recalled Friday, his first stint in the big leagues since 2007. Abreu got the start at third base Saturday and went 1-for-3 with a walk. He was 1-for-4 in his brief two-game stint with the Dodgers.

--RHP Chad Billingsley moved closer to getting a clean bill of health for his next start. He strained his left hamstring Friday against the Atlanta Braves. In the start before that, also against the Braves, Billingsley left early because of a cramp in his right hamstring. The Dodgers will run Billingsley through a workout today to see if he is fit enough to make his next scheduled start Wednesday.

BY THE NUMBERS: 2
-- The number of three-game losing streaks for the Dodgers this season, with both of those have coming over a two-week span. They lost four consecutive games from July 26-29 and lost the last three games of a four-game series against the Braves the past weekend. Before play Monday, the Dodgers had lost nine of their past 14 games and relinquished the best record in baseball to the Yankees on Friday.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I told Clayton... that may have been his best outing to date. He's really come a long way, not just from last year but from earlier this year." -- Manager Joe Torre after Clayton Kershaw struck out 10 batters in seven innings of a no-decision against the Braves Saturday. He walked six in his previous outing.

ROSTER REPORT
--LHP Clayton Kershaw had his best performance of his young career lost in the shuffle of the team's defeat to the Braves on Saturday. He gave up just two hits over seven innings with a walk and 10 strikeouts in a game the Dodgers eventually lost in 10 innings. He had been red-hot heading into his previous start against the Milwaukee Brewers, but ended up walking a career high six batters in that game.

--RHP Jeff Weaver looked to get back on track with perfect scoreless innings in long relief Sunday against the Braves. Weaver, who also has made five spot starts, lowered his overall ERA to 3.90. He also had a scoreless three-inning appearance July 5 against the Padres, but had given up a run in each of his next five outings.

--LF Manny Ramirez went 3-for-4 with a double Sunday against the Braves to break out of an 0-for-7 slide in his previous two games. The three hits were the most in a game for Ramirez since he had the same amount July 12 at Milwaukee right before the All-Star break. He is batting just .214 in August with four RBIs.

*M*A*S*H* 4077 MEDICAL REPORT
RHP Chad Billingsley (right hamstring cramp) left the Aug. 2 game. He started Aug. 7 but left the game with a left hamstring strain. It's not considered to be serious and he is expected to make his next start on Aug. 12.

RHP Ronald Belisario (sore right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 6. He finished a rehab assignment with Class A Inland Empire on Aug. 4, and he was activated Aug. 8.

RHP Jason Schmidt (strained right shoulder) went on the 15-disabled list retroactive to Aug. 6.

OF Xavier Paul (staph infection) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 21, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 27. His recovery was slowed in July by a microfracture in his left ankle.

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 began a rehab assignment with Class AAA Albuquerque on July 28, and he hopes to be activated in August.

LHP Eric Milton (lower back strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 28, and he was transferred to the 60-day disabled list July 20. He had surgery July 14, and he might miss the remainder of the season.

LHP Will Ohman (sore left shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list May 29, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 30. 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.

    ROTATION:
   LHP Randy Wolf
   RHP Chad Billingsley
   LHP Clayton Kershaw
   RHP Hiroki Kuroda
   LHP Eric Stults

    BULLPEN:
   RHP Jonathan Broxton 
   LHP George Sherrill
   RHP Guillermo Mota
   LHP Hong-Chih Kuo
   RHP Ramon Troncoso
   RHP Ronald Belisario
   RHP James McDonald
   RHP Jeff Weaver

    CATCHERS:
   Russell Martin
   Brad Ausmus

    INFIELDERS:
   1B James Loney
   2B Orlando Hudson
   SS Rafael Furcal
   3B Casey Blake
   INF Juan Castro
   INF Mark Loretta
   
    OUTFIELDERS:
   LF Manny Ramirez
   CF Matt Kemp
   RF Andre Ethier
   OF Juan Pierre

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