Paul DePodesta will explore all avenues to improve the Dodgers in the second half. (Jon SooHoo/Dodgers)
LOS ANGELES -- The lack of teams out of playoff contention and the oncoming trading deadline have general manager Paul DePodesta considering a radical approach to mid-season dealing.
"We might be forced to be creative and trade with another contending team," said DePodesta. "We're at the halfway point of the season and there aren't many teams out of the race. So there aren't many players available if you're only looking at teams out of the race.
"It might make more sense for a team like us to find another team like us and maybe we can both get better dealing from our areas of strength. Typically, buyers don't take pieces from other buyers. But a lot of us realize this year that might be the way to go."
If DePodesta can find willing trade partners in such a scenario, it would vastly increase the available player pool. He said that he spends most of the day on the phone searching for help, but believes the market will be quiet at least for another two weeks.
"Other than the two big names [Carlos Beltran and Freddy Garcia], at this point the few sellers out there seem willing to wait for a better deal," he said. "Asking prices are still quite high. It's possible this will mean increased activity in August [with waiver trades]. It also could force more teams to look internally, which might make as much sense as the players that are out there."
Beltre, Encarnacion updates: Adrian Beltre, who added a strained right quad to the left ankle bone spurs already hobbling him, was in the starting lineup Thursday night anyway, but left after three innings.
Adrian Beltre / 3B
Weight: 220 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
Juan Encarnacion had an MRI done on his left shoulder and it showed no changes from an original MRI taken in May, which revealed labrum damage that likely will require winter surgery. Encarnacion figures to be sidelined through the All-Star break. He missed his fifth consecutive game Thursday night.
Perez tests shoulder: Disabled left-hander Odalis Perez on Friday will have his first of two bullpen sessions that will determine if he is to be activated coming out of the All-Star break. Perez is disabled and missed his second start Thursday night because of an inflamed rotator cuff.
"I played a good catch today and long-tossed yesterday," said Perez. "If it feels strong enough, I'll go into a game next week. It feels good now. I remember the day after my last start, I tried to throw and there was no way for me to put speed on the ball. It was painful. It feels a lot different now, a lot better with the treatment and pills. Everything is calmed down and it feels better."
Werth another look: Jayson Werth's power is hard to ignore. Manager Jim Tracy penciled Werth into the lineup in Encarnacion's place, even though Houston's starting pitcher, Brandon Duckworth, is a right-hander.
Wednesday night, Werth hit his fifth home run in only 52 at-bats, but he cringed when asked how many he'd hit if he had 500 chances in a season.
"No idea," he said. "But it would be nice to have 500 at-bats and get an opportunity to play every day. Right now, that's not my role. I'm here to do whatever they need me to do."
Power to the Cora: Alex Cora's three-run homer Wednesday night keyed a six-run first inning and the Dodgers coasted the rest of the way. It was Cora's sixth home run of the season, a career-high. But he insists he's not trying to muscle up.
"It's just something I'm not even trying to do and they're going out," said Cora. "I hit 12 in winter ball one year and in Spring Training I got all caught up in all that and I wound up hitting .220 that year, hitting a lot of fly balls.
"I'm a smarter player now. I know what my game is. I'm not a power hitter. I fully realize I'm the eighth hitter. My job is to be patient, put a good swing on the ball. If I get out in front, sometimes it goes out. I'm surprised every time it does."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.