On the day after Odalis Perez lost a 6-0 lead in one inning, Dodger Manager Grady Little said he might remove him from the starting rotation -- for one start, or for an indefinite assignment to long relief.
"We do have options," Little said. "Which one of them? I'm not sure yet."
Perez is unlikely to mask any unhappiness in cliches -- he once memorably criticized his teammates for their lack of offensive output -- but Little said he is not afraid that taking Perez out of the rotation would damage the relationship between player and manager.
"I'm not afraid of anything we do that we think will make us better," Little said.
The Dodgers chose not to scratch top prospect Chad Billingsley from his Wednesday start for triple-A Las Vegas and not to limit his pitch count so he could be available to start for Perez on Sunday. Billingsley made 90 pitches and gave up three runs over seven innings, striking out nine, as his earned-run average jumped to 2.04.
Statistically, the Dodgers' next-best option could be Aaron Sele, the 13-year major league veteran who is 3-0 with a 2.43 ERA at Las Vegas.
Little said Perez still could start Sunday and declined to name any candidates who might replace him. In his six starts, Perez is 3-1 with a 6.90 ERA. In three good starts, he has a 1.47 ERA. In three poor starts, he has a 15.42 ERA.
Perez is in the second season of a three-year, $24-million contract. The Dodgers made him available in trade talks last summer and again last winter, in part because of his inconsistency.
Outfielder Andre Ethier, who made his major league debut Tuesday, walked around the clubhouse Wednesday with a large pack strapped around his back.
Injured so soon? No, he said, just a heat pack. Because he suffered a stress fracture in his back two years ago, he said, his daily pregame routine includes applying heat to the back and a set of strengthening exercises.
The Dodgers gave Perez permission to fly to the Dominican Republic and visit his mother, hospitalized there because of a stomach illness. She had surgery for stomach cancer two years ago. Little said he was uncertain when Perez would return.... Cesar Izturis is targeting mid-June for his return from surgery. Izturis said he hopes to begin a 21-day rehabilitation assignment in about three weeks.... Dr. Frank Jobe examined the torn groin muscle of outfielder Ricky Ledee and determined surgery would not be required, General Manager Ned Colletti said. Ledee is expected to sit out at least one month.