© 2008 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

08/17/08 4:20 PM ET

Johnson, Stults could fill fifth spot

Torre likes Dodgers' options if Penny is unable to return

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers manager Joe Torre said he would be comfortable using either Eric Stults or Jason Johnson as his fifth starter if Brad Penny cannot return from the shoulder issues that have plagued his season.

The Dodgers have decided to skip Penny's spot in the rotation this time through because of Monday's off-day, leaving Torre to decide between Stults and Johnson when the spot comes up Saturday in Philadelphia, unless the Dodgers go outside the organization to fill the position.

Stults won his first two starts during his stint in the Majors earlier this season, one on a four-hitter against the White Sox on June 25, but did not win any of his past four starts, going 0-2 with a 5.21 ERA while pitching with less aggressiveness before being optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas on July 22.

Johnson threw six shutout innings to beat the Giants on July 29 before a mediocre three-run, 4 1/3-inning outing next time out against the D-backs in his only two starts. He has been solid in compiling a 3.60 ERA over 10 innings in four relief outings.

"Stults, we haven't seen him for a while. First couple of starts with us were very good," Torre said. "Johnson, he's had an in-and-out career, but what he's done coming out of the bullpen, he's kept it together. Again, it's not like you're not looking to improve on it, but as of right now, I think he can give us a chance to win, and I think that's the important thing."

The Dodgers have been linked to San Diego's Greg Maddux since before the non-waiver Trade Deadline passed on July 31. He still remains a viable option if he clears waivers because he has a full no-trade clause and has said he wants to remain on the West Coast.

"Teams that are willing to do this stuff are all sensing it's sort of one of those things that they're going to keep bending, bending, bending until, you know, it's like playing chicken," Torre said of waiver deals in general. "We've got something you want, and they have nowhere to go, so they're figuring let us wait, it doesn't matter how long we wait, it's more important how long the other team waits. That's where it's at right now."

Torre said nothing "is imminent at this juncture," but he noted that could change because there is conversation.

Michael Schwartz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.