Dodgers Contemplating a Six-Man Rotation

The Dodgers' rotation plans are starting to come into focus, but nobody has quite figured out how a six-man rotation will work down the stretch in a pennant race. The plan is to use Chad Billingsley, Randy Wolf, Clayton Kershaw, Vicente Padilla, Jon Garland and Hiroki Kuroda down the stretch in some combination.

Garland made his Dodgers debut a winning one, while Kuroda will return from the disabled list Sunday against the Padres. Kuroda has been out due to a concussion.

Compounding the issue is that the Dodgers have four days off over the final month, which will stretch starts out even further.

The first order of business will be to add one or two days between starts for Kershaw, a 21-year-old who has thrown 153 innings this season after throwing a combined 169 last year.

The Dodgers ideally would want Billingsley and Wolf, their potential one-two punch in the playoffs, to stay on a normal schedule of pitching every five days. Padilla, Garland and Kuroda will have to pick up starts where they can.

"I think all the guys who are starters for us, with all the off days they have given us on the back end, will have to take an extra day whether they like it or not," manager Joe Torre said.

Acquiring Ronnie Belliard wasn't the impact move the Dodgers sought, so the team with the best record in the National League went out and added a designated hitter and a sixth starter.

Nobody can say the Dodgers aren't interesting.

A year after bringing aboard Casey Blake and Manny Ramirez, general manager Ned Colletti was at it again with trades for Jim Thome and Jon Garland.

Where and how the Dodgers use those players ended up being the biggest questions. Colletti said that Thome will not be asked to play first base unless there is an extreme emergency.

It was none other than Thome who called Colletti to say he was willing to do whatever the team needed but that first base wasn't an option. The GM said that Thome will be used in similar fashion to how the Phillies use Matt Stairs.

Thome, on turning into a pinch hitter when he is just 36 home runs away from 600: "Getting 600 would be great. Right now I'm focused and really excited about being here. It was something out of the blue. I never expected to go back to the National League. To be here is just a thrill, it really is."

--SS Rafael Furcal is back in his La Canada-Flintridge, Calif., home after his family was evacuated because of brush fires over the weekend while he was on the road with the team. Furcal said flames came within 100 feet of his home, but there was no damage other than the smell of smoke when he returned after the evacuation order was lifted.

--CF Matt Kemp, on how he found out about the Dodgers' latest acquisitions during Monday's game: "Larry King's son was yelling out, 'We just got Jim Thome and Jon Garland." King, the CNN broadcaster, is a season-ticket holder who sits every night in the VIP section behind home plate.

--RF Andre Ethier has shown he can deliver in September with a big-league-leading .462 batting average in September last season. A huge reason for that success, though, was that Manny Ramirez batted .370 in September last year. Ethier was batting in front of Ramirez at the time.

BY THE NUMBERS: 37 -- Years since Dodgers pitchers had combined for at least 20 strikeouts in a game. Six Dodgers pitchers combined to strike out that many Cincinnati Reds on Aug. 30, led by starter Clayton Kershaw who had 11. Dodger relievers struck out at least two batters in each of the final four innings of the 12-inning game. Dodger pitchers combined to strike out 22 Reds batters in a 19-inning game in August of 1972.

ROSTER REPORT --1B Doug Mientkiewicz, who hadn't played in the majors since dislocating his shoulder April 16, returned Wednesday and stroked a pinch single. The veteran, who made the opening-day roster with a late push in spring training, is not yet throwing at full strength, but the Dodgers are comfortable using him at first base in a late-inning double switch. He got his first pinch-hit since coming off the DL in the final game of the Arizona series.

--RHP Vicente Padilla has owned the National League this season. Not only has he given up just three earned runs in 10.1 innings of his first two starts with the Dodgers, but he has a 2.22 ERA in five starts against National League teams this season. One of those outings was against the Dodgers while he was still with Texas, when he tossed five shutout innings June 12.

--CF Matt Kemp saw his streak of four consecutive games with a home run end Wednesday. It was the longest such streak for the Dodgers since Hee-Seop Choi had a four-game homer streak in June 2005. The last Dodger to hit a home run in five consecutive games was Shawn Green in July 2001.

--Victor Garate was traded to Washington along with RHP Luis Garcia to infielder Ron Belliard. The 24-year old left hander from Venezuela was placed on the Nationals Major League Roster and joined Washington for its matchup at home against the Florida Marlins. Interestingly, the Nationals play the Dodgers September 22-24 in Washington.

*M*A*S*H* 4077 MEDICAL WATCH
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, then was slowed when he had problems throwing. He resumed action with Albuquerque on Aug. 10, and he was activated Sept. 2.

RHP Guillermo Mota (ingrown toenail) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Aug. 30.

RHP Hiroki Kuroda (concussion) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Aug. 16. He made a rehab start for Class A Inland Empire on Sept. 1, and he might start for the Dodgers on Sept. 6.

RHP Jason Schmidt (strained right shoulder) went on the 15-disabled list retroactive to Aug. 6, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on Aug. 27.

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. He is now playing with Albuquerque.

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.

LHP Travis Schlichting (back) was called up from the minors and placed on the 60-day disabled list Sept. 1.

    ROTATION:
   LHP Randy Wolf
   RHP Chad Billingsley
   LHP Clayton Kershaw
   RHP Vicente Padilla
   RHP Jon Garland
   BULLPEN:
   RHP Jonathan Broxton 
   LHP George Sherrill
   LHP Hong-Chih Kuo
   RHP Ramon Troncoso
   RHP Ronald Belisario
   RHP James McDonald
   RHP Charlie Haeger
   RHP Jeff Weaver
   LHP Scott Elbert
   
    CATCHERS:
   Russell Martin
   Brad Ausmus
   A.J. Ellis
   
    INFIELDERS:
   1B James Loney
   2B Orlando Hudson
   SS Rafael Furcal
   3B Casey Blake
   INF Jim Thome
   INF Juan Castro
   INF Mark Loretta
   INF Ronnie Belliard
   INF Doug Mientkiewicz
   
    OUTFIELDERS:
   LF Manny Ramirez
   CF Matt Kemp
   RF Andre Ethier
   OF Juan Pierre
   OF Jason Repko

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