Paul optioned by LA to make way for Manny
Dodgers slugger returns from disabled list on Saturday
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers optioned outfielder Xavier Paul to Triple-A Albuquerque after Friday night's game with the Rockies to make room for Manny Ramirez, who returns from the disabled list Saturday. Before the game, the Dodgers returned pitcher John Ely to Albuquerque to make room for Jeff Weaver's return from the disabled list.
Paul went 1-for-3 with a walk, a run scored and two strikeouts in the game, then got the news. Although it was expected, even by him, it wasn't easy to take.
"I don't fit here right now, that's it," Paul said after being consoled by teammates Casey Blake and Matt Kemp. "Right now, I just don't cut it here."
Paul said he was told by general manager Ned Colletti to work on his mental approach to the game "and being a big leaguer."
"To me, he's the boss, his opinion matters," said Paul. "As a player, I have to respect that. It's his team. At the end of the day, my thought is to keep working hard and keep playing like every day is my last. I know the situation with Manny coming back tomorrow. It is what it is. It's a decision they have to make."
Ramirez has been sidelined since April 23 with a strained right calf muscle. Paul was called up to replace him and hit .276 with one RBI, eight runs scored, five extra-base hits in 29 at-bats, three steals and seven strikeouts. The Dodgers were 5-1 in games Paul started and 4-0 when he led off.
Dodgers activate Weaver, option Ely
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers made the expected (if not necessarily appreciative) roster move Friday night, activating reliever Jeff Weaver from the 15-day disabled list and optioning rookie John Ely back to Triple-A Albuquerque.
The move comes one day after Ely delivered a superb outing against the Brewers in his second Major League start, allowing one earned run in 6 2/3 innings. Manager Joe Torre had said before -- and after -- Ely's Thursday night start that he was likely to be demoted regardless of how he pitched because of roster concerns.
Ely must remain at Albuquerque a minimum of 10 days -- unless another pitcher is injured, in which case Ely can be recalled. Ely's spot in the rotation would come around Tuesday night in Arizona. Fellow rookie Carlos Monasterios is the most likely candidate for that start.
"It had nothing to do with his performance -- it was one of the best of the season of anybody," general manager Ned Colletti said of the decision to option Ely.
"We needed a roster spot to activate Weaver and we're at a stage where we'll play it day to day. Things change every day and you never know what happens each day. We don't need a starter until we get to Tuesday. We have to get through Friday first."
Weaver was on the disabled list with what was a lower back strain, although his injury coincided with the need of a roster spot for the return of reliever Hong-Chih Kuo from the disabled list.
The Dodgers made the announcement after the media was cleared out of the clubhouse, so Ely was not available for comment.
After Thursday night's game, however, he said: "If I go down, I'll just go and keep throwing the ball. What else can you do? I knew coming up it wasn't a permanent thing."
Ethier soars to top of offensive leaderboard
LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier won't say so, but he's had about the hottest start in all of baseball.
His grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning Thursday night at Dodger Stadium gave the Dodgers a 7-3 win over the Brewers. He leads baseball with two grand slams and leads the Dodgers with two walk-off hits this season and 11 in his career. He entered Friday tops in the National League with a .371 average, 30 RBIs and tied for the league lead with 10 home runs.
Matt Kemp, batting .287 with seven homers and 20 RBIs, also got off to a hot start, homering in four straight games in April. But Kemp is just 7-for-26 on the Dodgers' homestand and has five strikeouts in 10 plate appearances the past two nights. Kemp was criticized by general manager Ned Colletti publicly while the Dodgers were on the road at the end of April.
Kemp's struggles, manager Joe Torre said, aren't correlated. Kemp drew a walk in the ninth inning on Thursday to load the bases and bring up Ethier.
"I thought he was coming around a couple days ago," Torre said. "Last night he had a couple good at-bats."
Closer Broxton forced to shake off rust
LOS ANGELES -- Rust could have contributed to Jonathan Broxton's blown save on Thursday night, a game the Dodgers won with a walk-off grand slam from Andre Ethier a half-inning later.
Broxton hadn't pitched since April 30, hadn't pitched in a save situation since April 24 and hadn't recorded a save since April 18.
"I think that was part of it, he hasn't been out there and the fact that we're all human in this game, we haven't had opportunities to save many games," manager Joe Torre said. "You want to have opportunities to go out there and get it right. He didn't locate that well."
Protecting a 3-1 lead, Broxton allowed the Brewers two runs on four hits. Not all were hit hard, though: Craig Counsell's game-tying pinch hit that scored Prince Fielder was a slow grounder up the middle that deflected off of a diving Jamey Carroll, then into second baseman Blake DeWitt. Broxton is 1-for-3 in save opportunities this season.
"It looked like he tried to make every pitch perfect," Torre said. "When you do that you may ago way from your strength. The slider is certainly a pitch that adds to his arsenal."
Carroll, Paul play big roles for Dodgers
LOS ANGELES -- Andre Ethier's walk-off blast Thursday night overshadowed key performances from Jamey Carroll and Xavier Paul, who were each 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
But Carroll, who has filled in admirably for shortstop Rafael Furcal, didn't want to talk on Friday about the positives of his .313 batting average in his 10 starts, or his leadoff single that started the Dodgers' ninth-inning rally Thursday in the 7-3 win over the Brewers.
Carroll was concerned about the sixth inning, when he batted with the bases loaded, no outs and grounded to third base, resulting in a force at the plate. The Dodgers led, 3-0, at the time, but did not score in the inning and closer Jonathan Broxton wasn't able to protect a 3-1 lead in the ninth.
"I'm disappointed I got up with the bases loaded and didn't get a run in with nobody out," he said. "It was a good situation. We could've went up and added another run. They ended up tying the game at 3."
Paul, who is hitting .269 in eight games in place of Manny Ramirez, also had a ninth-inning at-bat on Tuesday, and said it was the most pressure he's faced in a single moment this season.
"You just try to have confidence in yourself, not put too much pressure on yourself or get nerves out there," Paul said.
Paul is possibly playing his last game with the Dodgers for this go-around on Friday with Ramirez due off the disabled list Saturday. He's batting .269 in eight games.
"He's a big leaguer," manager Joe Torre said. "The only thing is now to have an opportunity to have a place for him. The most important thing for him to do is play. You certainly don't like to have young players not on the bench and have them sort of lose their skills, not use their skills."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. Evan Drellich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.