LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers got a day of respite for their bullpen, and on Friday added a little more flexibility to their bench. Carlos Frias was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City one night after soaking up the four innings against the Padres, and the Dodgers called up outfielder Andrew Toles from Triple-A.
To make room for Toles on the 40-man roster, the Dodgers designated Cole Figueroa for assignment. Figueroa was claimed off waivers from the Pirates on June 28.
After throwing nine innings on Wednesday and 19⅔ innings over the previous three days, the Dodgers bullpen saw only one reliever pitch on Thursday, with Casey Fien recording the final out of the fifth inning, throwing eight pitches.
Frias, recalled earlier in the day, pitched the final four innings with the Dodgers down 6-0. Frias threw 52 pitches and didn't allow a run. But even though Frias pitched well and gave the Dodgers exactly what they needed, his extended outing also meant he wouldn't be available for the final three days before the All-Star break, so sending him back to the minors was really a no-brainer.
The Dodgers had just a three-man bench on Thursday night with second baseman Chase Utley, infielder Chris Taylor and catcher Yasmani Grandal.
Toles gives them a fourth, a left-handed bat, and a legitimate center fielder to boot. He is starting in center field and batting eighth on Friday night.
Toles, 24, is the second Dodgers player in two weeks to be called up to the big leagues after starting the season in Class-A Rancho Cucamonga, joining pitcher Brock Stewart. But Toles' rapid ascension is even more remarkable.
The outfielder was released by the Rays at the end of spring training at the end of 2015 and he spent a year out of baseball, as he told Barry Lewis of the Tulsa World in May:
"It was tough watching on TV and following guys I had played with," Toles said. "I was at home in Atlanta. I spent three weeks working at Kroger (grocery store), but that just wasn’t for me."
Toles signed a minor league contract with the Dodgers on Sept. 23, 2015, reuniting with president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and director of player development Gabe Kapler.
Toles this season is hitting .330/.375/.507 across three levels, with 25 doubles and 23 steals in 73 games, including .303/.333/.485 in eight games with Oklahoma City.
But what impressed our David Hood most about Toles was the center fielder's speed. From Hood, on June 24:
Toles isn't just fast, he's an instinctive runner that knows when and where to apply his speed. He has excellent closing speed and a second gear when stealing bases, and he's been caught only five times in 27 steal attempts this year. Toles also has the range to track down balls in the gaps in center field or either corner.
Hood wrote on June 24 that both Stewart and Toles could make an impact on the Dodgers in the second half this season. Here we are roughly two weeks later and both have been called up to the big leagues, before the All-Star break.
Toles will wear No. 60 with the Dodgers.