Ely optioned to Triple-A; Link called up
Rookie starter had struggled over past two outings
LOS ANGELES -- Not long after John Ely was trounced for a second consecutive outing Saturday afternoon, Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti made the decision to send the rookie right-hander to Triple-A Albuquerque and recall Jon Link.
"If we need to go bullpen for that particularly day, we will, but we have a little time before we have to make that decision, or have to come up with a pitcher I should say," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "It may be a [Carlos] Monasterios start if we decide to go bullpen."
Ely, 24, had a 4-7 record and a 4.63 ERA in 14 starts for the Dodgers, and when he first came up was so effective that Torre called him a "godsend." But Ely has turned in four bad outings in his last six starts, including the last two, in which he went a combined five innings and allowed 11 runs. Against the Cubs on Saturday, a 7-3 Dodgers loss, Ely went 2 1/3 innings and let up six runs.
"They can't afford to keep me out there If I keep pitching like that," Ely said before Sunday's game after packing his gear. "It's just a part of the game. Sometimes you got to cut your losses while you can ... I kind of went home last night and thought about it. Two in a row, that's not acceptable, obviously."
"We just decided that he needs to get back on track, and talking to John today he certainly understood that," said Torre, who after Saturday's game said Ely was still scheduled to make his next start. "He's going down there with the attitude we need for him to have."
Dodgers trainer Stan Conte said there was nothing physical bothering Ely, and Ely said there was no particular mechanical change to make.
"We'll figure out what I need to do, wrestle it out," Ely said. "I'm as motivated as ever, I'll be back."
The fifth spot in the Dodgers' rotation will come up on July 19 when the Dodgers return home from St. Louis to face the Giants. Torre mentioned Triple-A pitchers James McDonald and Claudio Vargas as possible callups, with an emphasis on McDonald, who was scheduled to pitch Sunday for Albuquerque.
McDonald started the day 6-1 with a 4.17 ERA in 14 starts between Double-A and Triple-A. He missed June with a hamstring injury.
Link, who was on the road in Omaha with the Isotopes for a night game on Saturday, was told in the fourth inning he'd be flying out to Dodger Stadium on Sunday. He got to the ballpark around 1:30 p.m. PT.
"It's been a lot of frequent-flier miles," Link said. "So hopefully it'll be a nice offseason trip for me and my wife. I've always wanted to go to Dubai."
Link has been called up five times this season. Second baseman Blake DeWitt last season was called up six.
"We're going to blow that out of the water, at least I hope to," Link said, jokingly.
Link was 2-1 with a 3.89 ERA in 28 appearances for Albuquerque. Before he was called up to the Majors to make his first start on April 28, Ely was 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA in three starts this season with the Isotopes.
Torre calls late Sheppard 'a classic'
LOS ANGELES -- The first time through the lineup for both the Dodgers and Cubs on Sunday at Dodger Stadium, public-address announcer Eric Smith changed up his routine.
"Batting next, center fielder, Number 27, Matt Kemp," he said, his words hanging on each pause. "Number 27."
Smith was paying homage to Yankees announcer Bob Sheppard, who passed away Sunday at 99. Repeating a player's number was Sheppard's signature style.
"He just was a classic," said Dodgers manager Joe Torre, who managed the Yankees for 12 seasons. "I was talking to Billy Crystal this morning, and he used Bob in his movie '61*.' The energy he had for the age he was was pretty amazing. ... You'd see him the dugout every once in awhile before batting practice, just sitting there. He didn't necessarily need to talk to anybody, but he was like a magnet because he drew a lot of people."
Jeff Weaver, who was with the Yankees in 2002-03, was saddened to learn the news of Sheppard's passing from a reporter.
"He's one of a kind, that's a voice you look forward to hearing when you're in Yankee Stadium," Weaver said.
Asked if he had ever met the legend, Weaver simply said, "I didn't really need to."
Soccer star Donovan throws first pitch in LA
LOS ANGELES -- The World Cup went out with a bang at Dodger Stadium.
First Dodgers players and reporters watched the final minutes of Spain's 1-0 World Cup win over the Netherlands in the clubhouse on Sunday. Then, an hour before gametime, U.S. and Los Angeles Galaxy star Landon Donovan took the field in preparation for his ceremonial first pitch.
"I didn't watch a lot of it, I watched the very end," Donovan said of the title match. "I was doing some stuff, running around. I have it on TiVo. You just want to see a good game, because they're both good teams."
Donovan has thrown out first pitches at Dodger Stadium and Wrigley Field -- home of the Dodgers' opponent on Sunday, the Cubs, so he knew the drill.
"I followed baseball my whole life, I get it: Aim high," Donovan said wearing a No. 10 Dodgers jersey. "Growing up we had like basic cable TV so the only thing I really ever watched were Lakers and Dodgers game, so I grew up watching Vin Scully."
Donovan, a former Dodgers season-ticket holder, might have the opportunity to take his game to Europe in the coming months.
"We'll see," Donovan said when asked if he'd leave the States. "I don't get to do this if I go to Europe."
Dodgers left fielder Manny Ramirez is 0-for-5 through his first two rehab games at Class A Inland Empire. Ramirez, eligible to return for the first game after the All-Star break in St. Louis, went 0-for-3 on Sunday. He has three strikeouts. ... James McDonald, a candidate to replace John Ely in the rotation, went 6 1/3 innings and allowed one run on four hits Sunday for Triple-A Albuquerque, taking his second straight win. Dodgers manager Joe Torre said he was interested to see how McDonald did. ... Backup catcher Brad Ausmus had the day off Sunday but went 3-for-3 for Inland Empire on Saturday and is 6-for-12 in his first four rehab games since back surgery in April. Ausmus played four days consecutively and is ahead of schedule. ... Sunday may have marked the last time Torre and Cubs manager Lou Piniella managed against each other. Both are undecided about their futures after this season. "The only thing that's predictable about him is his unpredictability," Torre said of Piniella. ... The Dodgers start a tough second-half schedule in St. Louis on Thursday. Of the schedule, Torre said: "To me, if you expect to be where you're supposed to be, you're supposed to be special anyway. If you don't beat the teams, tough or not tough, then you don't deserve to be there, that's the way I look at it." ... The "Don't Stop Believing Guy" who performs the Journey song during the eighth innings at Dodger Stadium, Jameson Moss, has either been absent or supplanted, as a child playing air guitar took his place on DodgerVision at the end of the Cubs series.
Evan Drellich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.