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Pedro Martinez is available, if Dodgers are interested

The former Cy Young winner, now a free agent, would seem to be a good fit at the back of the rotation.

June 23, 2010|By Bill Shaikin

Nothing personal against Charlie Haeger, but we would feel a lot better about the Dodgers if Pedro Martinez were starting for them Thursday.

This is not about trafficking in sentiment, about avenging the Delino DeShields trade or slapping "three-time Cy Young winner" on the Dodger Stadium marquee. This is about the Dodgers getting the best pitcher they can.

They do not appear to have the prospects to get Cliff Lee, the money to get Roy Oswalt, the prospects or the money to get Dan Haren.

They cannot play out a championship season with a mystery guest filling out the last spot or two in the starting rotation. They can get a guy who lost once in nine starts last season, who shut out the Dodgers in the National League Championship Series, who stared down the New York Yankees in Game 2 of the World Series.

And they can get him now, or so Martinez would have us believe.

"Each day that passes by makes it more difficult for me to come back," Martinez told Quebec-based RDS TV at a charity softball game in Montreal last weekend. "I was hoping to go to the World Series and spend one more season in the big leagues.

"Not getting the right team, not getting the right offer, not getting the right position for me to go and play is making it really difficult."

The Dodgers are making it more and more difficult for themselves. They lost their sixth consecutive game Wednesday, scoring three runs or fewer for the seventh time in 13 games, but General Manager Ned Colletti said his priority remains pitching help.

"I think our offense would be tougher to improve than our pitching," Colletti said. "Even though we've struggled some lately, I think we have a real good offensive club, and we have some depth there.

"Unless something drastic happens to an everyday player — or more than one — I think our focus will continue to be on our pitching staff."

That need not be via trade. Martinez is available as a free agent, and so is Jarrod Washburn.

We caught Washburn on his cellphone the other day, as he was getting ready to coach a T-ball game. He hesitated to say whether he is retired.

"I guess I am," he said.

However, he said he would consider offers to return this season and would not limit his interest to teams close to his Wisconsin home.

"It's not like I have a wish list," he said.

Colletti said he has inquired about free-agent pitchers, without saying who they might be or whether their financial demands might exceed what the Dodgers wish to pay.

"But anybody you bring in, you can't sign him on Wednesday and pitch him on Friday," Colletti said. "You'd still have a three- to four-week interval where they would have to get ready. You're almost in limbo."

Sign one of those guys now, and the Dodgers could be out of limbo before the July 31 trade deadline. They might save themselves the investment — in prospects and/or cash — for the likes of Kevin Millwood, Ben Sheets or Jake Westbrook.

None of those guys would represent the perfect solution. Neither would Martinez. At 38, he might be good for five or six innings a start — not great, but better than the Dodgers are getting from the back end of their rotation.

"I feel good," Martinez said. "I feel physically perfect. I could still pitch one or two more years, but I think getting attached to my family is going to make it difficult."

Perhaps Martinez would not consider the Dodgers. He earned $1.5 million for his second-half stint with the Philadelphia Phillies last season, and he reportedly wants a healthy raise to pitch again. And, with Wednesday's defeat, the Dodgers dropped into a third-place tie in the National League West.

"If I make the move to go back," Martinez said, "it's got to be … where I know I'm getting a team that's going to give me a chance to go to the World Series."

It's not as if Colletti failed to assemble pitching depth, given his financial handcuffs. The Dodgers had eight candidates for the last spot in the rotation this spring.

Eric Stults is in Japan. Ramon Ortiz, Russ Ortiz and Josh Towers are gone. Scott Elbert and James McDonald have struggled in the minor leagues. Carlos Monasterios is on the disabled list. Haeger is the last man standing, with five starts and no victories.

"I think it's reasonable to think we'll help ourselves in some way," Dodgers Manager Joe Torre said, "or at least we'll attempt to help ourselves."

Vote for Pedro? Here's one vote.

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

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