The Dodgers have Thursday off before starting a stretch of 20 games in 20 days beginning Friday in San Diego. Ted Lilly and Hiroki Kuroda will start the first two games at Petco Park, then will turn to a fifth starter for the first time all season in the series finale on Sunday. Jon Garland had been pushing for a return from his oblique injury as early as Sunday, but he instead will make a rehab start with Class A Rancho Cucamonga on that day instead. For those who have seen Dodger minor league games in person the last few years, Sunday will be familiar for you, as the Quakes are playing in San Bernardino against the Inland Empire 66ers, the Dodgers affiliate for the last four seasons.
With Garland pitching a minor league game Sunday, the Dodgers will need someone else to start in San Diego. The choice is between John Ely and Tim Redding, and it appears that choice will be Ely. Per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
Manager Don Mattingly confirmed the Dodgers will call up a pitcher from Triple-A Albuquerque to start Sunday's game with the Padres and serve as the rotation's fifth starter. Mattingly indicated the announcement would be made as late as possible, although the decision has been made. Mattingly also confirmed that roster status figured heavily into the decision, suggesting John Ely should get the call.
With Garland likely returning as soon as next Friday, the fill-in fifth starter could only be needed for as little as one start. It's much easier to recall Ely from Triple A, then option him when needed, since he is already on the 40-man roster, unlike Redding, who is not on the 40-man.
Redding has an out clause in his minor-league contract, but the decision date isn't until June 15. If the Dodgers were to purchase Redding's contract Sunday, then want to send him back to the minors either five or 10 days later, Redding would first need to clear waivers but then he would also have the right to refuse an assignment to the minor leagues. Keeping Redding in the minors now keeps him as another possible option for a longer period of time.
If the Dodgers are facing a left-hander who gives left-handed-hitting James Loney problems, Blake could play at first base. He also could spell [Andre] Ethier in right field.
"He gives me a guy I can move around a little bit," Mattingly said. "I don't want to do it a lot. I want him pretty much at third base, but he does give me the flexibility to load the lineup right-handed and give certain guys days off against a tough lefty."
Blake in two and a half years as a Dodger has only played 22 2/3 innings at a position other than third base. Blake started seven games in right field for the Indians in 2007, and started 93 games in right field in 2006.