CHICAGO — The Dodgers said Sunday they have initiated trade talks with the New York Mets in an attempt to resolve the Jose Nunez situation.
A Rule 5 draft selection, Nunez must be kept on the 25-man roster the entire season or offered back to the Mets for $25,000.
Interim General Manager Dave Wallace acknowledged he has spoken with Met General Manager Steve Phillips about a deal that would enable the Dodgers to keep the struggling reliever and option him to the minor leagues.
"We're in the preliminary stages," Wallace said. "We're just talking."
But a baseball executive familiar with the situation said the Dodgers will increase their efforts this week after the left-hander's performance Saturday in the Chicago Cubs' 20-1 victory.
Nunez, 22, gave up six hits and nine runs (five earned) in 1 2/3 innings during the worst defeat in Los Angeles franchise history.
In a trying rookie season, Nunez (0-1) has given up 14 hits--including four home runs--in 7 1/3 innings.
Nunez has a 13.50 earned-run average and opponents are batting .389 against him.
"[Saturday] was extremely painful," Manager Jim Tracy said. "It's a situation where now you begin to wonder a little bit where is it safe to be able to pitch this young man."
Players have been supportive, but they are frustrated because Nunez is occupying a roster spot.
"Not to down him or anything, but we're kind of running with a five-man 'pen," setup man Terry Adams said, echoing sentiments of many players.
"He's really not going to pitch unless the situation is a successful one for him, a relaxing situation, I guess you could call it, so five guys are pretty much in there every day.
"I don't know what they're going to do, I haven't heard anything, and the guy has a good ceiling, a great arm and great stuff. But I've said it before: The big leagues is not a developmental level.
"The big leagues is a place where winning is a priority. If you don't win, you find someplace else to play or you find another job. This is not a place to refine your tools. You're brought up here to do the job.
"One of the veteran guys is going to have to go in if we're two or three runs down because they're just not confident right now to put him in there and hold it down. Everybody knows it. I don't think you can do [that] if the expectations are playoffs and World Series.
"It takes 25 guys to do that. You can't do that with 24 guys or 23 guys. You can't have guys around who are just on scholarship."
Adams said his performance in the 20-1 game--seven batters faced, no outs, six hits, seven earned runs--was the worst of his career.
"Since I've been playing baseball," he said. "All through minor leagues and big leagues."
The right-hander's ERA, 1.06 on May 1, has ballooned to 5.68.
"For a reliever it takes a long time to get your numbers back down," he said. "It's almost like you've got to pitch two months of scoreless baseball."
Third baseman Adrian Beltre went three for five as the Class-A Vero Beach Dodgers defeated Sarasota, 6-0. The Dodgers hope to move Beltre, still recovering from a botched appendectomy, to triple-A Las Vegas by the end of the week.
* Opponent--Florida Marlins, four games.
* Site--Dodger Stadium.
* TV--Fox Sports Net 2 tonight, Tuesday and Wednesday.
* Radio--KXTA (1150), KWKW (1330).
* Records--Dodgers 17-14, Marlins 13-16.
* 2000 record vs. Marlins--7-2.
DODGERS' KEVIN BROWN
(4-1, 1.62 ERA)
MARLINS' A.J. BURNETT
* Update--Brown has 22 strikeouts in 25 1/3 innings and has limited opponents to a .217 batting average while earning victories in his last four starts. The right-hander is 3-2 with a 3.55 ERA in his career against the Marlins, one of his former teams. Burnett, making his first appearance of the season, recently completed a rehabilitation assignment (foot stress fracture). The right-hander was 3-7 with a 4.79 ERA last season.
* Tuesday, 7 p.m.--Luke Prokopec (3-0, 3.16) vs. Brad Penny (1-0, 3.89).
* Wednesday, 7 p.m.--Chan Ho Park (3-3, 3.55) vs. Ryan Dempster (3-3, 4.67).
* Thursday, 7 p.m.--Darren Dreifort (1-2, 5.25) vs. Matt Clement (1-2, 5.89).
* Tickets--(323) 224-1448.