Dodgers Replace Russ Ortiz with Jon Link

The Dodgers designated veteran pitcher Russ Ortiz for assignment Sunday and recalled rookie Jon Link in what will probably be the first of several moves to strengthen the bullpen. Left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo and right-hander Ronald Belisario are also expected to be activated if their final rehab assignments go well and two more slots will have to be cleared.

Kuo is recovering from a sore elbow and has a scheduled Minor League rehab appearance Sunday. Belisario, who missed five weeks of Spring Training with visa problems, is scheduled to make back-to-back appearances at extended spring training Sunday and Monday and is also likely to be activated during the week.

A non-roster pitcher, Ortiz made the club but has been banged around and his 10.29 ERA precipitated the move.

Link, acquired from the White Sox in the Juan Pierre trade, did not pitch particularly well at Triple-A Albuquerque with a 6.23 ERA in 4.1 innings over five appearances. This is his first big league callup and he's likely to be sent back upon the activation of Kuo or Belisario.

"That comes with the territory of an organization deep in pitching," the 26-year-old Link told Ken Gurnick of "Whether I go back down or not, it's an opportunity for me to show what I can do when the games matter and I'm looking forward to the opportunity, even if it's a short time. I'll take it and run with it."

Ortiz, 35, was informed of the decision after batting practice before Sunday's game. The Dodgers have 10 days to trade Ortiz, release him or get him past waivers, after which he could be outrighted to Triple-A. Ortiz said he asked if the club wanted to keep him and was told yes, but Ortiz said he's not sure he would accept the assignment to the minors.

"If it's for a specific purpose for the opportunity to come back, yeah," he said. "But I'm not going to go down just to put a uniform on. I don't need to put a uniform on to be happy."

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