Notes: Good news for Saito
Closer to rejoin club after MRI on shoulder reveals no damage
HOUSTON -- The MRI exam on 37-year-old closer Takashi Saito's shoulder blade Monday morning showed no structural damage, and he was expected to fly in from Los Angeles and rejoin the club.
Saito has missed five games because of a recurring pain around the shoulder blade and spine that first bothered him several years ago while he was pitching in Japan. He was examined by Dr. William Dillin at the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic.
"Hopefully, he'll be ready to pitch tomorrow," said manager Grady Little. "He's been out three or four days, and it feels like the whole year. It's continually getting better."
Trainer Stan Conte said the MRI was precautionary to eliminate any unforeseen cause of the discomfort, which now is localized.
With Jonathan Broxton having closed the previous two days, Little said he would try to stay away from Broxton on Monday night and hold back Joe Beimel for save situations. Beimel has three career saves.
Little said Brett Tomko would start Friday night in Colorado, but for Monday and Tuesday nights, Tomko would bypass his between-starts bullpen session and be available for an inning out of the bullpen, as was required of Derek Lowe on Sunday.
Nice job, see ya: Eric Stults, who had a fine start Sunday against the Mets, was sent back to the Minor Leagues on Monday.
Stults was promoted July 4 because the Dodgers were short on pitchers, and he was returned to Triple-A Las Vegas for the same reason. Having thrown 5 1/3 innings Sunday, he was unavailable for several days, and the Dodgers don't have enough rested arms to wait. Right-hander Eric Hull (3-3, 3.18 ERA, nine saves) is pitching well at Vegas, and he was already on the Major League roster.
"By no means is this based on his performance," said Little. "He was great. This is out of necessity."
Stults, who took Randy Wolf's place on the roster, can take a little solace in the fact that he has pretty good company in such difficult moves. In 1989, The Dodgers played back-to-back games in Houston, lasting 22 and 13 innings, then went to Atlanta for a doubleheader and called up Ramon Martinez to start the opener.
Martinez threw a six-hit shutout, winning 7-0, and before he could shower, he was informed he was being returned to Triple-A, where he stayed for another two months until being called up for good.
Hull spent four days with the Dodgers in June and did not pitch. In an ironic twist, he and Stults have been roommates for three years. Shortly after receiving his good news, Hull's cell phone rang and it was Stults, passing along his bad news.
"It was kind of weird," said Hull. "When I saw his number on the phone, I knew it was going to be awkward. He was disappointed. He threw awesome. Then he asked if my wife [in Las Vegas to visit Hull] could pick him up from the airport."
Teixeira rumors won't go away: Although the Dodgers seem focused mostly on shoring up their pitching staff through the addition of a reliever, rumors out of Texas persist that Los Angeles is one of the clubs still pursing Gold Glove first baseman Mark Teixeira for a package of young Dodgers that could include James Loney and/or Andy LaRoche.
Wolf stays back: Wolf did not make the trip with the Dodgers, and he is scheduled for a Minor League rehab assignment at Class A Inland Empire on Wednesday. After tiring during a 45-pitch bullpen session Sunday, Wolf said he was likely to require two rehab starts before being activated. The new target date for his return would be Aug. 4, which would mean one month on the disabled list.
Speaking of LaRoche: The last three seasons, LaRoche has gone off offensively and earned a midseason promotion.
He's at it again. Since June 1, LaRoche has hit .391 (34-for-87) to raise his average from .228 to .303, and that includes seven homers and 19 RBIs in his last eight games.
Sounds like a much different LaRoche than the one that hit .221 during an 18-game trial at third base in the Major Leagues earlier this year, when he had no homers and only three RBIs.
"He knows if he continues to do the job, his day will come," said Little. "He came back from another shoulder injury tearing the cover off the ball. We're fully aware of that."
Remember this deal? The answer to a Dodgers trivia question is working in the Astros' Spanish-language broadcast booth.
That would be Alex Trevino, a former catcher who was involved in the last trade between the Dodgers and their rivals, the San Francisco Giants. Trevino, who became catcher Mike Scioscia's backup, was acquired at the 1985 Winter Meetings for Candy Maldonado.
Coming up: Mark Hendrickson (4-5, 4.54 ERA) opposes Astros righty Jason Jennings (1-6, 4.76) on Tuesday at 5:05 p.m. PT.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.