Notes: Perez talks things over
Southpaw's concerns over usage assuaged by management
ST. LOUIS -- After delivering Albert Pujols' walk-off homer Thursday night and venting his frustration over losing his spot in the starting rotation, pitcher Odalis Perez on Friday met with general manager Ned Colletti and manager Grady Little.
Little said the club realizes Perez is in an unfamiliar position as a relief pitcher and considers his critical comments the result of frustration.
"We take it for what it is," Little said. "We understand his feelings and his comments last night. He, in turn, has to respect what we're trying to do. We feel he's got a lot of value for the club and he's going to be with us."
Colletti said the meeting involved "a positive exchange" that he hopes "turns out with a positive result."
Little said he would not rule out a possible return to the rotation for Perez, but for now, he's a long reliever.
"Everyone needs to do a job around here," he said. "I have a job to do, to direct the team and have to manage us to win games, and he has to prepare himself the best he can for what he's got to do."
Perez did not ask to be traded. The club has attempted to deal Perez, but the remaining $16 million on his contract that expires after next season -- along with a 6.79 ERA this year -- has made him pretty much unwanted by other clubs.
"He's a Dodger. He wants to be part of a winning team," said Little. "He feels the best way for him to contribute is as a starter. He may be given that opportunity in the future, but it won't be today. He's in unchartered territory. He's not as comfortable relieving as when he was a starter."
Kemp demoted: Outfielder Matt Kemp's meteoric arrival, followed by a rapid flameout, resulted in his demotion Friday to Triple-A Las Vegas to make room on the active roster for Ricky Ledee, who had been out since May 1 with a pulled groin muscle.
Kemp, promoted May 28 from Double-A, hit seven home runs in his first 14 games. But the league adjusted. Since June 14 (when he was hitting .378), Kemp has hit .234 with no homers, five RBIs and 30 strikeouts in 77 at-bats. His slump coincided with the emergence of fellow rookie Andre Ethier, who has assumed the playing time that once was Kemp's.
"We all feel the same way," said Little, who as recently as Thursday said he wanted to keep Kemp in the Major Leagues. "When we feel his development will be better somewhere else, we'll get him more playing time somewhere else. The guy's going to be a great player."
With Jeff Kent apparently not needing to be disabled, the only other option to open a roster spot would have been to reduce the three-man catching corps, which probably would have meant disabling Sandy Alomar Jr., but management felt his clutch bat off the bench was too valuable to be without.
Mueller mulls future: Disabled third baseman Bill Mueller is with the club on this trip, but nobody expects him to return to action this year because his right knee has not improved after a third operation.
Mueller said he is still hopeful of returning to the game at some point, but for now, he is researching possible surgical procedures that might help his severe degenerative arthritis and reduce the pain. The procedures he is considering -- which include surgically realigning the leg, or microfracture that spurs tissue regeneration -- are major procedures that require significant healing time with no guarantee for success.
"I don't know what's possible," said Mueller, who is bone on bone in the leg because earlier procedures removed the cartilage that cushions his bones. "Some of these procedures are pretty high risk."
While saying he's "very positive" his career is not over, he said he's not only considering courses of action for the short-term, but the long-term. Mueller said transplanted cadaver cartilage, which prolonged the career of Dodgers farmhand Derek Thompson, has not been considered. Mueller also might eventually be a candidate for knee replacement.
Closer in training: Double-A Jacksonville relief pitcher Mark Alexander is currently building on a streak of 19 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings pitched. Since the streak began on May 21, Alexander has appeared in 17 games, allowing only 12 hits while fanning 30. He pitched a season-high three innings in his last outing Saturday. Alexander's ERA has plummeted to 0.69 (three earned runs in 39 innings) and he has 20 saves on the season, third in the league.
Coming up: Mark Hendrickson (0-2, 4.91) makes his third Dodgers start Saturday against Jeff Suppan (6-5, 5.83).
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.