Dodgers Manager Joe Torre on Thursday danced around the subject of who would be the team's fifth starting pitcher.
It's a topic of interest because Ramon Ortiz, who was a last-ditch effort to fill the role while Vicente Padilla is out, has underperformed in two starts.
The next time the fifth starter would potentially be used is Tuesday when the Dodgers open a three-game set in Chicago against the Cubs.
But because the team has an off-day the day before, Torre could potentially skip using a fifth starter and hold off on that decision until sometime in that series or the one after with the Colorado Rockies.
If he had to pick somebody, he seemed to go with Carlos Monasterios, though he said it would come down to him and Ortiz.
Is there anyone else?
"Not at this point on this squad," Torre said.
What about in the minor leagues?
"We're not close to having someone come out of there and help us right now," Torre said, meaning he is pretty much picking between a bad apple and a bad orange.
Monasterios threw three scoreless innings Wednesday, but hadn't pitched in eight games before that because Torre considers him suitable almost exclusively for long relief.
"The only issue with him is that you're not going to get the pitch count as with Ramon," Torre said.
While Monasterios' longest outing this season was a four-inning, 73-pitch start at Pittsburgh on May 1, Ortiz has topped that pitch count three times already — not that Ortiz has been stellar, though.
The 36-year-old's last two starts were his first since 2007 and in both he gave up a combined eight runs and 12 hits in 7 1/3 innings, upping his ERA to 6.30.
Knuckleballer Charlie Haeger is another candidate to fill the fifth spot, though not necessarily a savior. In five starts for the Dodgers this season, he is 0-4 with a 10.31 ERA.
Haeger, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with plantar fasciitis earlier this month, said Thursday he has improved what was a lower-body glitch in his delivery while working with Class A Inland Empire pitching coach Charlie Hough.
Haeger has made two rehab starts and said he will probably have one more Sunday "and then go from there."
Manny Ramirez's injury Wednesday night, which Torre classified as a "freak thing," seems like the type of thing only Ramirez would suffer.
During pregame warm-ups, the outfielder was swinging his legs to get loose and hit his left foot on the table, hurting his little toe.
This is why he was held out of the lineup that night and again Thursday. Torre said Ramirez's only problem was running and that he'd probably return by Friday's game.
Ramirez "said he was all right to hit, but when he puts pressure on it … [and] that's all about running in the outfield, so it'll be one more day," Torre said.
Ramirez, who is batting .352 and missed 14 games recently this season with a right calf strain, was available to pinch hit, which he did in Wednesday's game.
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