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LaRoche Probably Won't Get the Call

September 05, 2006|Steve Henson | Times Staff Writer

MILWAUKEE — All it took was sitting for several hours during the flight from L.A. and Chad Billingsley's next start was pushed back indefinitely.

As for Andy LaRoche's debut, that apparently will wait as well.

LaRoche, a prospect so highly regarded the Dodgers wouldn't trade him for David Wells a few days ago, has not been promoted despite playing through a shoulder injury and batting .322 at triple-A Las Vegas, sources said.

The Pacific Coast League season ended Monday and the Dodgers are expected to add infielder Oscar Robles and outfielder Delwyn Young today, giving them two more left-handed hitters off the bench.

LaRoche suffered a partially torn labrum in his right shoulder diving for a ball in mid-June but did not have surgery. He returned to the lineup in July and batted .322. With Wilson Betemit and Julio Lugo platooning at third base, the Dodgers might want to give LaRoche's shoulder time to heal.

Billingsley missed a start Sunday because of a strained left abdominal muscle. The injury was aggravated during the flight and the Dodgers scratched him from his next start, scheduled Friday against the New York Mets.

"They certainly don't want me to rush back too soon," he said.

"We're being really cautious. I don't want to miss the rest of the season."

There are three candidates to take his place, and two have never made a major league start.

Manager Grady Little will choose from left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo, who struck out seven while giving up one run in three innings of relief over two games last weekend, left-hander Eric Stults, a 26-year-old career minor leaguer, and veteran right-hander Aaron Sele, who gave up six runs and took the loss Sunday against the Colorado Rockies.

"We're going to go with whoever matches up best against the Mets," Little said. "We know their stuff and we know the Mets hitters. It will be an educated guess."

The Mets are 22-16 against left-handed starters, best in the National League.

But they are even better against right-handers, going 62-36.

Stults was the most consistent starter at Las Vegas, going 10-11 with a 4.23 earned-run average.

He struck out 10 and walked one in each of his last two starts.

"I'll just prepare the way I have all year," he said.


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