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DODGERS FYI

Jason Schmidt will start against Cincinnati Reds on Monday

The right-hander has been rehabbing in the minor leagues for much of the season after experiencing shoulder pain.

July 19, 2009|Kevin Baxter

Right-hander Jason Schmidt will step on a major league mound for the first time in 25 months Monday when he starts for the Dodgers against the Cincinnati Reds.

"We're going to see what we have," Manager Joe Torre said of Schmidt, who is expected to be in uniform at Dodger Stadium this afternoon. "Velocity-wise, we all know he's not what he once was. His experience in knowing how to pitch is something that he's going to have really rely on."

A three-time National League All-Star who averaged more than 11 wins through his first 11 full seasons, Schmidt has pitched in only six games for the Dodgers since signing a $47-million free-agent contract with the team after the 2006 season. He went 1-4 with a 6.31 earned-run average in 25 2/3 innings in 2007 before undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum and frayed biceps tendon in his right shoulder that June.

"As much work as has been done on it and how much he's rehabbed it and how much he's thrown, the shoulder is not the same shoulder as it was three years ago," said Dodgers trainer Stan Conte, who had the same position in San Francisco when Schmidt pitched for the Giants. "I've always seen Jason Schmidt as a competitor. And he'll compete. He'll give everything he can.

"The question always is, is the shoulder going to give him enough to work with?"

Schmidt made five starts for triple-A Albuquerque in the last month, going 2-0 with a 3.94 ERA

If Schmidt passes Monday's test and can take a regular turn in the rotation it would fill a big hole for the Dodgers, who have been struggling to find a fifth starter. They have tried James McDonald, Eric Stults, Jeff Weaver and Eric Milton at the back of the rotation and the four have combined to go 9-5 with a 4.78 ERA in 23 starts, averaging less than five innings an outing.

Souvenir swarm

Call it trickle-down Mannynomics.

The Inland Empire 66ers, the Dodgers' Class-A club in San Bernardino, doubled their average attendance Friday when they gave out Manny Ramirez bobblehead dolls to the first 2,000 fans through the gate.

According to Paul Stiritz, the team's assistant general manager, "there were a lot of people here before the gates even opened" at 6 p.m. The game with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes drew 6,634, more than twice the 66ers' average attendance of 3,040.

The Ramirez promotion had been scheduled before the slugger's 50-game suspension for violating baseball's drug policy, Stiritz said. Ramirez played briefly with the 66ers last month while preparing for his return to the Dodgers on July 3. The Dodgers will have their own Ramirez bobblehead giveaway Wednesday.

Short hops

Outfielder Andre Ethier, hitting .185 with only four RBIs in July, was held out of the starting lineup Saturday in favor of Juan Pierre. . . . Reliever Ronald Belisario, on the disabled list because of a strained right elbow, threw off flat ground on consecutive days and said he felt fine. He could begin throwing off a mound soon.

Times staff writer Jim Peltz contributed to this report.

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kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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