Michael Antonini, seen here in spring training during a bullpen session, got his first call to the major leagues on Tuesday.
There was some question about which reliever would be removed from the Dodgers' active roster once Todd Coffey is activated from the disabled list as expected on Sunday. After all, the three relief pitchers with options are the three best pitchers in the bullpen: Javy Guerra, Kenley Jansen, and Josh Lindblom.
But the Dodgers got their answer on Monday night, in the form of right elbow tendinopathy for Matt Guerrier. The right-hander, who last pitched Wednesday in Milwaukee, was placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday, retroactive to April 19, and the Dodgers recalled left-handed pitcher Michael Antonini from Triple A Albuquerque.
With both Jamey Wright and Mike MacDougal unavailable Monday night, manager Don Mattingly said he would have used Guerrier in an emergency situation if needed, even knowing that he would probably be placed on the disabled list after the game.
"We would have used him last night if we had to because we were a couple of guys down, knowing that he was probably going to be DL'd at the end of the day," Mattingly said. "Our biggest problem with Matt is he doesn't know if he throws one day how he will feel the next day."
Guerrier had an MRI exam on Tuesday and also was to receive a platelet-rich plasma injection into his elbow. Mattingly said in all likelihood the right-hander would be ready on May 4, the date he is eligible to return from the disabled list.
May 4 is next Friday, when the Dodgers will open a series at Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs, and that will also be the day Ronald Belisario could return to the Dodgers after his 25-game suspension. Mattingly said Belisario will pitch a few minor league games in a rehab assignment, first with Class A Rancho Cucamonga and then with Triple A Albuquerque.
Belisario is out of options and the Dodgers either need to add him to the active roster after their game on May 2 (their 25th game of the season) or risk losing him to waivers. Mattingly acknowledged there would be internal discussions regarding the Venezuelan reliever who missed all of 2011 with visa issues, but the manager didn't sound like somebody eager to cut bait with Belisario anytime soon.
"Beli's stuff never really been in question. It's always been good," Mattingly said. "In spring training, guys still aren't there yet, but the ball came out fine. His velocity was up, and like before you saw sink. The only thing we didn't see was consistency. His stuff was still good, but he just wasn't getting the ball where he needed to get it."
Antonini, 26, received the call from Albuquerque Isotopes manager Lorenzo Bundy telling him he was getting his first call to the big leagues. Antonini's first call was to his parents, and because the call was in the middle of the night his mom's first reaction was to panic.
"They are in Philadelphia so it was probably 2am, but I don't think they cared much," said Antonini, who said his parents would try to come out and see him pitch though given that he is in relief there is no set schedule as to when he would pitch.
With Coffey coming back Sunday, Antonini's first stint in the majors could be brief.
Antonini, who has started in 109 of his 115 minor league games since the beginning of the 2008 season, said he would be ready to pitch out of the bullpen. "I got a fair share in spring training and in winter ball. It's just about knowing how many pitches it takes to get loose," Antonini said.
Mattingly said he could use Antonini either in long relief or as a situational left-hander. The latter could come into play Tuesday night as the Braves have four left-handed hitters in their starting lineup and lefties Eric Hinske and Juan Francisco on their bench, and Scott Elbert has pitched each of the last two days.
A.J. Ellis caught Antonini just once in spring training but remembered the left-hander.
"I remember a guy who is very aggressive, and throws a lot of strikes. A changeup is his best offspeed," Ellis said. "He's been working really hard on both his breaking balls. I just remembered a guy who really attacked the zone."
- Coffey will pitch in minor league rehabilitation games Wednesday (in Lancaster) and Friday (in Lake Elsinore) for the Class A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes.
James Loney is sitting for the fifth time in eight games against left-handed starting pitchers this season, but manager Don Mattingly still won't call first base a platoon.
"I feel like it's moving more in the other direction," Mattingly said. "Early on he wasn't getting his hits and didn't seem sharp, but now he's getting sharper and sharper. He's getting to the point where we will see him against more lefties, not less."
- Dodgers prospect Alex Castellanos, who has transitioned back to second base this season while hitting .366/.477/.746 in 18 games with Triple A Albuquerque, was placed on the disabled list on Tuesday by the Isotopes with a strained left hamstring.
Game Time: 7:10 p.m.
(hat tip to Underdog for the title inspiration)