06/21/09 7:57 PM ET
LA's Milton sharp in final rehab tuneup
Left-hander to return to rotation on Friday or Saturday
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
The likely reason is to determine who to keep and who to include in deals as he looks to bolster the starting rotation. One veteran rumored on his radar is Seattle left-hander Jarrod Washburn.
Meanwhile, incumbent fifth starter Eric Milton's final tuneup before he returns from the disabled list went about as well as it could Sunday, as he pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings for Class A Inland Empire in an injury rehabilitation start.
Manager Joe Torre said Milton would return to the starting rotation to face Seattle on Friday or Saturday. Milton had been on standby to be activated for Sunday's game if Torre had been forced to use recently promoted reliever James McDonald on Saturday night.
Torre rejected the notion of making a full-time starter out of Jeff Weaver, who responded to the rare opportunity to face younger brother Jered on Saturday night with five-plus innings for a win that left his overall record at 4-1 and as a starter 2-0 with a 3.15 ERA, compared to a relief ERA of 4.50.
"I think he favors the bullpen," said Torre. "He's valuable out of the bullpen. To me, I learned this long ago, when a game gets out of hand early, you need somebody to stop the bleeding and give your team a chance to catch up. He seems very comfortable in that role. That's where I'd rather have him."
That's been Torre's position since the opening of Spring Training. With a flurry of days off this month, Torre didn't need a fifth starter from June 5 until Saturday night. Before that, Milton made four starts after his May 14 promotion, each one better than the previous, as he went 2-0 with a 2.89 ERA.
Eric Stults, meanwhile, had stepped into the slot opened by Opening Day starter Hiroki Kuroda's injury. He went 4-2 with a 4.80 ERA, one of his nine starts a shutout of San Francisco May 9.
But Stults sprained his pitching thumb May 15, tried to pitch through the pain in three rough starts and, finally, on May 31 went on the disabled list. Three weeks later, he still isn't healed enough to begin a Minor League rehab assignment.
"He's feeling better, but he's not close yet," Torre said of Stults, who is at the club's Camelback Ranch-Glendale complex in Arizona and will throw a simulated game before advancing to a rehab assignment.
Shawn Estes, like Milton a veteran left-hander attempting to resurrect his career at the Dodgers' Triple-A affiliate in Albuquerque, retired last week after determining his chances of a promotion were remote.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.