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Paul Maholm roughed up in final tuneup, awaits role for Australia

Maholm allowed six runs and two home runs in his final 2014 Cactus League start.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

GLENDALE -- Paul Maholm was not sharp in the Dodgers' 8-2 loss to the Reds on Thursday, but the left-hander said he is healthy and seems likely to be on the trip to Australia Sunday night.

Maholm allowed a pair of home runs to Cincinnati on Thursday, and allowed eight baserunners while recording eight outs. Prior to today he had allowed one run in five Cactus League innings.

"He got a couple balls up, that's not his game," said acting manager Tim Wallach. "If he gets the ball up, that's when he gets in trouble."

But Maholm has not had any recurrence of the elbow tenderness that briefly sidelined him early in camp, and that alone makes him likely for a spot on the active roster when the team heads to Sydney to open the regular season.

"[The team] really haven't said a whole lot," Maholm said. "I'm going, and we'll see once we get there what the deal is."

The team needs a starting pitcher on the active roster to take to Australia just in case something happens to either Clayton Kershaw or Hyun-Jin Ryu, who will start the two opening series games on March 22-23. Ideally, the extra starter wouldn't be needed to pitch at all, but the downside is that the pitcher could be thrown off by long inactivity preparing for the real regular season.

Zack Greinke will remain back in Arizona to build arm strength after getting sidelined by a calf strain, and the plan all along has been for Josh Beckett to be on a slower program building for the regular season and that was before Beckett's sprained thumb (he still plans to start on Friday against the Cubs, by the way). Dan Haren could be the extra starter, but on Monday said he was tired and that it might be best if he stayed behind.

That leaves Maholm, who has been building up arm strength all spring vying for the fifth starter spot, and threw 65 pitches on Thursday. He could either start or be in the bullpen in Australia, or take one of the three exempt spots on the opening 28-man roster and remain in Arizona to prepare for the season. But Maholm on Thursday sounded like someone planning to head down under.

"I'm going to take a couple days, throw a really good bullpen Sunday, then go from there," Maholm said. "I don't know the schedule they'll have me on and what not, but we'll see how it goes and play it by ear."

Bullpen note

Of the five relief pitchers who pitched for the Dodgers on Monday, three pitched again on Wednesday, but Brian Wilson and Brandon League did not. Wilson pitched a bullpen session on Thursday. League, who has retired just eight of his 16 batters faced in three Cactus League appearances, didn't pitch Thursday and isn't listed on the travel roster to pitch in Mesa on Friday. Wallach said he didn't know when League would pitch next but that the right-hander has no health issues that he knows of.

Back fields

Alexander Guerrero didn't play in a minor league intrasquad game on Thursday but both Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig did. Puig was 4-for-10 with a home run and a triple, while Kemp was 0-for-6 with a strikeout. Kemp, as he did on Wednesday, played two half-innings in center field on defense.

Up next

The Dodgers make their final bus ride of the Cactus League on Friday when they head to Mesa to play the Cubs in their brand new facility. Beckett gave a thumbs up to starting, while Kyle Hendricks starts for Chicago.

Thursday particulars

Home runs: Hanley Ramirez (2): Todd Frazier (2), Chris Heisey (4)

WP - Alfredo Simon (1-1): 4⅔ IP, 5 hits, 1 run, 3 strikeouts

LP - Paul Maholm (0-1): 2⅔ IP, 6 hits, 6 runs (5 earned), 2 walks