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Ricky Nolasco to make a start for Dodgers in playoffs — maybe

Right-hander is scheduled to pitch in National League division series with Atlanta if there's a Game 4, but plans might change depending on outcome of first three games.

October 02, 2013|By Dylan Hernandez
  • Veteran right-hander Ricky Nolasco is tentatively planned to be the Game 4 starter for the Dodgers in the playoff series against the Atlanta Braves.
Veteran right-hander Ricky Nolasco is tentatively planned to be the Game… (Norm Hall / Getty Images )

ATLANTA -- Ricky Nolasco is scheduled to start for the Dodgers in Game 4 of the National League division series against Atlanta — for now.

Manager Don Mattingly said the Dodgers' rotation plans are subject to change depending on what happens in the first three games of the series, which will be started by Clayton Kershaw, followed by Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu.

Nolasco could be used as a long reliever in one of the first three games if a starter is forced to make an early exit.

"We would have to be flexible with Ricky," Mattingly said.

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Kershaw is a candidate to start Game 4 regardless of whether Nolasco pitches earlier in the series. If the Dodgers are down two games to one after three games, the Dodgers could start Kershaw on three days' rest.

"We haven't talked about that," Mattingly said.

Kershaw has never pitched on less than rfour days' rest. The Dodgers always have been careful with his arm. But Kershaw said he would be open to starting Game 4 if asked.

"If the opportunity presents itself, I'm definitely not opposed to it," Kershaw said. "Obviously, I haven't done it before, but I've got some ideas on how to get prepared for that."

Available in a pinch

The Dodgers didn't release their 25-man division series roster Wednesday, but Andre Ethier sounded as if he expected to be on it.

Ethier, who can't play center field because of shin splints, said he is mentally preparing himself to pinch-hit.

"I'm prepared for whatever they ask me," Ethier said. "If it's pinch-hitting, I'm ready for that."

The Dodgers must submit their playoff roster by 7 a.m. PDT on Thursday.

Utilityman Nick Punto said he was completely recovered from the ingrown toe nail that sidelined him for the last four regular-season games.

Yasiel Puig slumping

Yasiel Puig's .214 average in September is a sign that the rookie outfielder has to make adjustments to how he's being pitched, Mattingly said.

"I think Yasiel is a work in progress," Mattingly said. "He has a lot of talent, but still a work in progress."

Puig still hit six home runs in the final month of the regular season.

"His September, I don't think has really bothered us in any way," Mattingly said. "We've seen improvement from the standpoint of less baserunning mistakes, hitting the cutoff man a few more times, just the things that we've been working on and trying to continue to improve on."

Mattingly may move Puig from the leadoff spot into the middle of the order, in part to make up for the absence of injured outfielder Matt Kemp.

Native son

Kris Medlen, the Atlanta Braves' Game 1 starting pitcher, grew up in Southern California wanting to play for the Dodgers.

"I went to Dodgers and Angels games growing up, dreamed of being an infielder for the Dodgers," Medlen said. "It's a pretty cool feeling to play against them in the regular season. But I've had a couple of years in the big leagues to get over that love for the Dodgers."

Medlen was a pitcher and infielder at Cerritos Gahr High. He also played at El Camino College and Santa Ana College.

Medlen was 1-6 through his first 11 starts this season. He was 14-6 with a 2.92 earned-run average the rest of the season.

Dan Uggla is out

Second baseman Dan Uggla, a former All-Star, didn't make the Braves' division series roster, which was announced Wednesday.

Uggla batted .179 this season and hit only one of his 22 home runs after July 25. He has two years remaining on a five-year, $62-million contract.

Paul Maholm, who was the Braves' No. 4 starter for most of the season, and veteran left-hander Scott Downs, who was acquired in a trade with the Angels, were also left off the roster.

"I couldn't take the emotion out of it," Manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Yesterday might have been one of the hardest days I've ever had to experience as a major league manager."

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

Twitter: @dylanohernandez

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