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Notes: Ishii back in rotation
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08/10/2004 8:36 PM ET 
Notes: Ishii back in rotation
Left-hander earns another shot thanks to Penny's injury

Kazuhisa Ishii will get at least one more chance to start this Saturday. (Jon SooHoo/Dodgers)
CINCINNATI -- Kazuhisa Ishii's weekend demotion from the Los Angeles starting rotation might have caught some observers by surprise, considering he was leading the staff with 11 wins at the time.

It was those 11 wins that helped the left-hander regain his spot in the rotation after right-hander Brad Penny was sidelined with a strained right bicep. Ishii, who had yet to make a relief appearance going into Tuesday's game at Cincinnati, is scheduled to start in Saturday's nationally televised game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

"He's in the bullpen tonight, and then he'll prepare for his start on Saturday," manager Jim Tracy said before the game. "If you don't see him tonight, you won't see him until then."

Despite his 11-5 record, Ishii has been wildly inconsistent this season. To paraphrase the fairy tale, when he was good, he was very good; when he was bad, he was wicked.

Ishii, who was 14-10 as a rookie in 2002 and 9-7 last season, had put together a 1.99 ERA during his 12 quality starts this year. That left him with a 10.23 mark over his other 10 games.

Still, as Tracy pointed out, Ishii had been good enough to turn in 11 wins, including the only two complete games by a Los Angeles starting pitcher this season.

"We have a situation where he's the guy available," the manager said. "You don't just plug somebody in for a guy who's won 11 games. You have to respect the player."

Still, that doesn't mean the job is Ishii's no matter how he performs against the Cubs.

Removing Ishii from the bullpen, which owns the best collective ERA in the Majors, will leave the Dodgers with no left-handed relievers. That situation doesn't weigh too heavily on the manager, however.

"It doesn't matter," Tracy said. "It is what it is. It doesn't matter if I'm not comfortable with it."

'Pen work: Penny's encouraging MRI on Monday wasn't the only sign of progress displayed by injured Los Angeles pitchers.

Right-hander Hideo Nomo, who has been on the disabled list with right rotator cuff inflammation since July 1 , threw a 62-pitch bullpen session to batters before Tuesday's game. And right-hander Edwin Jackson, sidelined since July 9 with a strained right forearm, threw 70 pitches without batters.

The plans for both pitchers are essentially the same, Tracy said. Both have bullpen sessions scheduled for Friday in Chicago. If they continue to show progress, the team will start looking at rehab scenarios.

Tracy couldn't say how many starts Nomo would need in the minors before being deemed ready to rejoin the Dodgers.

"It depends on how sharp they are," he said.

Penny's return to the mound won't even be considered until he is pain-free. He left the mound in the first inning on Sunday in obvious pain, but Monday's MRI showed no structural damage, and he joined the team in Cincinnati.

"We'll continue to keep a close eye on the progress he makes," Tracy said. "That was a very encouraging report. It doesn't look like it's going to be more than just that. We obviously have to have him pain-free. We're not prepared to plug him in until we definitively hear something along those lines."

Notes: As expected, center fielder Steve Finley returned to the lineup after missing four consecutive starts with hamstring tendinitis. He celebrated by hitting his first homer as a Dodger, a two-run shot in the third inning that gave the Dodgers a 2-1 lead. ... Brent Mayne made his third consecutive start behind the plate on Tuesday, but Tracy said David Ross would start on Wednesday, as would outfielder Jayson Werth. ... Tracy's father, Jim Leo Tracy, 77, was in the Dodgers' clubhouse before the game. Jim Leo is suffering from prostate cancer. The younger Jim, a native of the Cincinnati area, arrived in Cincinnati early to be with his father. ... One of the two buses hired to take the Dodgers from Dodger Stadium to the airport on Monday broke down at the stadium, and the team had to squeeze into one bus.

Mark Schmetzer is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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