Dodgers' rotation remains in flux
Billingsley's status uncertain; Elbert optioned to Triple-A
LOS ANGELES -- The state of the Dodgers' pitching staff has deteriorated to the point that all manager Joe Tore can do is chuckle when asked about his current crop of starters.
Attempting to make sense of the staff is a confusing endeavor.
There's the fact that Torre can't say with any certainty if Chad Billingsley will be available for his next scheduled start Wednesday at San Francisco. Billingsley suffered a strained left hamstring while running to first base after singling in the sixth inning in Friday night's 9-5 loss in 12 innings to the Braves.
"It felt pretty good today," Torre said of Billingsley's ailing hamstring. "It's still a question mark on Wednesday. We'll know more on Monday. They're going to look at him Monday and see where we are at that point in time. I think he's going to throw on flat ground Monday."
Billingsley was checked out by Dodgers head team physician Neal ElAttrache on Saturday morning.
Torre said that Billingsley felt a grab and not a pop in his leg when he ran to first base, but he also said that he'll probably err on the side of caution as these types of injures can linger.
"He's got thick legs and that's the whole thing about the hammies," Torre said. "To me, the worst one for pitchers is the groin probably, because you never know if it really goes away until you get out here."
And then there's the more pressing issue: Torre doesn't know who will start Sunday's game.
On Friday, Torre said that Scott Elbert was scheduled to take Jason Schmidt's spot in the rotation after Schmidt was placed on the disabled list with right shoulder issues.
But then Elbert pitched part of the 12th inning Friday night.
"Elbert's not starting tomorrow," Torre said before Saturday's game against the Braves.
In fact, he won't even be with the club on Sunday.
Before Saturday's game, the Dodgers announced that right-handed reliever Ronald Belisario was activated off the 15-day disabled list (strained right elbow) and that Elbert was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque.
So with Elbert out of the equation, just who will pitch Sunday?
"Right now, we're in the discussion area on that one," Torre said. "We're not at liberty to talk about it at this point. You'll know later on."
One possibility is that the Dodgers could be in the process of making a trade for a pitcher off waivers, thus the reason for Torre's silence on the issue. League rules state that teams cannot mention specific players placed on waivers.
"Could be somebody from the outside," Torre said, "we haven't decided on that."
He did say that it's doubtful that John Smoltz could suit up for the Dodgers on Sunday. The Red Sox released Smoltz on Friday.
There's also a chance that the starter could be a pitcher currently with the Dodgers. The most logical candidate in that scenario is Jeff Weaver, who's started five games this season, but Weaver was the long reliever Saturday if Clayton Kershaw suffered an early exit.
"We have to take the temperature here," Torre said. "You've got Weaver, who's an option, but again he's our long-guy tonight.
"Right now we have some thoughts and have an idea about what we're going to do, but I don't think we'll know really until the game tonight."
David Ely is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.