Reporting from St. Louis — Told by a Dodgers official the previous night that he was placed on outright waivers, George Sherrill said on Thursday that he is not sure if he would accept a minor league assignment if no team claims him.
A former All-Star closer, Sherrill has had a rough season, looking nothing like the setup man who posted an earned-run average of 0.65 in 30 appearances in his two months with the Dodgers last season. His ERA after Thursday's game is 7.08.
Because outright waivers are irrevocable, the Dodgers will lose Sherrill if he is claimed by another team. But that seems unlikely to happen, considering that a team that claims him would have to pay the remainder of his $4.5-million salary.
If Sherrill clears waivers, he would have the option of accepting a minor-league assignment, declining it or becoming a free agent.
Sherrill would forfeit the remainder of his salary if he opts for free agency.
The Dodgers would have to release him to get him off their active roster if he declines the assignment. They would remain on the hook for his salary.
Sherrill sounded hesitant about pitching in the minors, expressing fears about his chances of returning to the majors.
"If I go down and I do OK, then I'm just kind of stuck," he said. "If I go down and look like I've figured it out, I could still be stuck. If I go down and the club rattles off like eight in a row, [it could be] 'George who?' you know?"
Sherrill said he was first approached about the possibility of a minor-league assignment on Sunday. At the time, he told the Dodgers he would think about it.
Sherrill pitched in the eighth inning of the Dodgers' 7-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday, retiring two batters before giving up a hit to Randy Winn. Manager Joe Torre then pulled him, handing the ball to rookie Jon Link to face Albert Pujols.
Manny activated, Johnson to the DL
To clear the necessary roster space to activate Manny Ramirez, the Dodgers placed Reed Johnson on the 15-day disabled list with a lower back strain.
Johnson has a history of back problems. He underwent back surgery in 2007 to repair a herniated disk, and spent time in each of the last two seasons on the disabled list because of back issues.
Johnson, who missed the Dodgers' final three games before the All-Star break, is eligible to be activated on July 24.
"If you ask him to play, he'll play, but he shouldn't be playing," Torre said.
Ramirez, who was out with a hamstring strain, started in left field and batted fourth. He was 0 for 3.
New role for Ethier
When Andre Ethier learned he would be starting in center field in the All-Star game, the right fielder jokingly said he hoped Torre wouldn't get any "crazy ideas."
Well, Torre did.
With Johnson sidelined, Torre said that Ethier is the Dodgers' backup center fielder.
The All-Star game marked the first time Ethier played the position since college.
"He's a good player," Torre said. "I wouldn't be afraid to put him in center field."
That said, Torre said he would prefer not to have to take Ethier out of his normal position.
James McDonald will likely start for the Dodgers on Monday, Torre said. The former minor-league pitcher of the year was scheduled to pitch for triple-A Albuquerque on Friday, but Torre said he has been scratched.… Brad Ausmus, who played four games for Class-A Inland Empire last week, is continuing his minor-league rehabilitation assignment in Albuquerque.
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