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DODGERS FYI

It's back to the bench for Dodgers' Juan Pierre

Outfielder filled in admirably for Manny Ramirez during his 50-game suspension.

July 03, 2009|Dylan Hernandez

Orlando Hudson said Juan Pierre should be an All-Star. So did Matt Kemp.

But with Manny Ramirez set to return from a 50-game suspension for violating baseball's drug policy, Pierre will be back where he was at the start of the season when the Dodgers open a three-game series tonight in San Diego: on the bench.

Pierre was Ramirez's stand-in over the Dodgers' last 50 games, batting .317, scoring 31 runs and stealing 21 bases.

"I think he really and truly deserves to be on the All-Star team," second baseman Hudson said. "When you look at the numbers, what he's done, it's amazing. When you look at the numbers of some of the guys probably going to the All-Star game, if he had more games, he would be better than a lot of them."

Pierre didn't want to talk about his return to the bench.

"No Manny talk," he said. "No Juan talk."

But with the 37-year-old Ramirez requiring regular rest and the Kemp and Andre Ethier needing occasional days off to better cope with the summer heat, Manager Joe Torre said he envisions Pierre starting a couple of games a week.

Third base coach Larry Bowa, who also worked under Torre in New York, said he was certain Torre would find a way to reward Pierre.

"I think any time a guy comes in and does the kind of job that he did, you have to take your hat off to him," Bowa said. "I've been around Joe for a while. I don't think Joe's going to say, 'OK, now sit down for three months.' "

Roster moves

Roster spots were cleared Wednesday to make room for Ramirez and, most likely, pitcher Claudio Vargas.

Left-hander Eric Stults, who was on the disabled list, was activated and optioned to triple-A Albuquerque along with catcher A.J. Ellis.

Outfielder Mitch Jones, the career minor leaguer who batted .308 and became a fan favorite in his short stay in the majors, was designated for assignment. Jones was removed from the 40-man roster and can be released, traded or claimed by another team off waivers. He can be sent to the minors if he clears waivers.

Vargas, who is on the 60-day disabled list, is expected to be activated today, in part because he can no longer spend time in the minors on a rehabilitation assignment. Vargas can become a free agent if he isn't activated.

--

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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