Brian Wilson pitched an inning for Triple-A Albuquerque on Friday night, the second leg of his minor league rehab assignment. The right-handed relief pitcher will likely join the Dodgers next week, perhaps in time for their road trip to Philadelphia and Miami, manager Don Mattingly said on Friday.
But when Wilson does join the Dodgers, whenever that is, the former Giants closer will pitch in a setup role behind closer Kenley Jansen.
"When we talked to Brian, everybody was up front about it. Kenley is our guy, and everybody else is there to get the ball to Kenley," Mattingly said on Friday. "We'll try to match (Wilson) up the best we can."
Wilson, 31, was signed as a free agent on July 30 and immediately placed on the disabled list as he recovers from Tommy John surgery he had in April 2012. Wilson pitched a scoreless inning with one strikeout on Wednesday night for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga, his first time on a professional mound since April 12, 2012.
"It's not really a rehab. It's more getting him in there against hitters," Mattingly said. "They have a plan of how they'll use him for the next six to eight days, then we'll see where he's at. We have to get him to where he's three out of four, and back-to-back. We'll see how he's responding."
Wilson threw seven pitches in another 1-2-3 inning on Friday in Tacoma with the Isotopes, allowing a pair of groundouts sandwiched around a line out caught by Alex Castellanos in left field. The earliest he could be activated from the disabled list is Wednesday, Aug. 14. Mattingly envisions a setup role for Wilson, ideally.
"We want him in the important innings. We kind of have everybody in the mix. The more guys we can get that can handle those situations to get the ball to Kenley, the better off we are. That's what we're trying to get everybody to try to do," Mattingly said. "We'd like to be able to use him late in the game."
Wilson could give the Dodgers another arm Mattingly trusts in the late innings, as Jansen, Paco Rodriguez and Ronald Belisario have endured quite a workload this season. Entering Friday Jansen and Belisario were tied for third in MLB with 57 appearances, one off the lead, and Rodriguez was tied for sixth with 56 games.
Those three are the most likely to pitch when the Dodgers have a lead, and during their 34-8 stretch Jansen has pitched 22 games, Belisario 21 and Rodriguez 21.
"It's the double-edged sword for us. ... The usage is something we've got to try and stay on top of, but when you've got a chance to win a game, you can't say you won't use them if they feel good and they say they feel good," Mattingly said. "We're going to try to take care of them the best we can, while trying to win games."
As for when Wilson is activated, it is yet unknown whose spot he will take if everyone is healthy. Chris Withrow has options but has become one of Mattingly's favorite weapons, especially for multiple innings. Carlos Marmol seems the most likely candidate, if the Dodgers decide to end that reclamation project, though Mattingly didn't sound like someone ready to pull the plug just yet.
"Carlos is getting better. We're still working, trying to get him in games when we can," said Mattingly. "He's a guy who has worked really hard. We'll continue to work on him. His stuff has been good, coming out 95-96 (mph), so hopefully we can get that confidence back up."