Notes: Houlton shocked by callup
Furcal's ankle still hurting; Hendrickson returns to rotation
LOS ANGELES -- For D.J. Houlton, the news came as a shock on Saturday evening when he was scratched from his scheduled start in Las Vegas and told to board a plane to join the Dodgers.Houlton spent the the entire 2006 season with the Triple-A 51s and went 9-11 with a 5.60 ERA, and in 14 games this season, he was 5-4 with a 3.90 ERA. Houlton, who will be used primarily out of the bullpen by manager Grady Little, said that he had no idea he was being called up. "I had no idea. Nothing was said to me, and there were no indications," said Houlton. "I was about to take BP, and they waved me off and told me I had to get on a plane for Burbank." Houlton played for the Dodgers in 2005 as a Rule 5 Draft choice, meaning that he had to be on the big-league roster or be offered back to the team that originally drafted him, the Houston Astros. Houlton made the best of the situation and started 19 games, going 6-9 with 5.16 ERA. This time, however, he feels he's earned the promotion and is excited to be back with the big-league club. "It feels great. I'm not a Rule 5 guy, so I feel like I actually earned it this time," he said. "I need to be on top of my game out of the bullpen and stay sharp." Last season, Houlton led the 51s in starts (29), innings (162 1/3), strikeouts (132) and shutouts (one), and this season led the team in starts (14) and innings (80 2/3), and was second on the team in strikeouts, with 66. "He's had a good solid season with Triple-A, and we feel he can help us out of the bullpen," Little said. "We also know he has the ability to start games if we need him to." According to Houlton, his role is not a big issue, and said that he was just happy to be back and willing to do whatever is asked of him to help the team win. Furcal's ankle: Rafael Furcal said that his ankle was still hurting him before Sunday afternoon's game. The shortstop sprained the ankle in a collision with Jason Repko in Spring Training and has not been 100 percent since. Furcal is hitting .270 with one homer, 14 doubles and 27 RBIs. The soreness has bothered him most when playing the field and stealing bases. Furcal stole 37 bases last season and so far this season has swiped just eight. "Yeah, it bothers me, but that's the way it's going to be the rest of the season," Furcal said. "If it breaks off or falls off, I don't care. I'm not going to pay attention to it anymore. I just have to keep going out there and play." Hendrickson back in rotation: Little announced that Mark Hendrickson will take Hong-Chih Kuo's spot in the rotation on Wednesday against the Atlanta Braves. Hendrickson started the season as the team's fifth starter, but after eight starts, he was sent to the bullpen in favor of Kuo. Hendrickson is 2-3 with a 4.08 ERA in 19 games this season. "He's always ready to start, and he's been good for us out of the bullpen," Little said. "He'll be available to pitch [on Sunday], and we expect that he will be good for 85 to 90 pitches on Wednesday." Run, Juan, run: Center fielder Juan Pierre stole his 30th base of the season on Saturday night, the second most in the Majors behind Jose Reyes' 39. The last time Pierre reached 30 steals this early in a season was in 2003, when he stole his 30th on June 19 and finished with a career-high 65 thefts that season. "For me, it's all about getting on base," Pierre said. "But the main goal is scoring runs." Coming up: The Dodgers open a four-game series with the Atlanta Braves on Monday night with two former 20-game winners on the mound. Derek Lowe (8-7, 3.03) opposes John Smoltz (9-4, 2.98) at 7:10 PT at Dodger Stadium.
Jayson Addcox is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.