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06/29/09 9:37 PM ET

Milton to remain Dodgers' fifth starter

But off-days mean lefty will work from 'pen until July 11

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers manager Joe Torre said left-hander Eric Milton will remain the club's fifth starter moving forward, but that because of the schedule, the team will need just four starters for the next few weeks.

The Dodgers have Thursday and Monday off, so Milton was told in a meeting that he won't start again until July 11 at Milwaukee, which is also the team's second-to-last game before the All-Star break.

Milton last started on Saturday against the Mariners when he allowed four runs on seven hits over five innings in the Dodgers' loss. It was his first start since June 5 because he was previously on the disabled list with a strained back.

For the time being, Milton will be the team's long reliever, which is a new role for him this season as all five of his appearances with the club have come as a starter. He is 2-1 with a 3.80 ERA.

"As of right now, he'll be working out of the bullpen," said Torre, who also added Milton won't be available for Monday's game against the Rockies.

With Milton's turn in the rotation skipped this week, it means that right-hander Hiroki Kuroda will be the scheduled starter for Friday, which also happens to be the day when Manny Ramirez is eligible to return to the team after serving his 50-game suspension.

Kuroda, though, said through a translator that he's just excited to have Ramirez back and won't be fazed by the media frenzy that is expected to surround the game against the Padres in San Diego on Friday.

"Everyone knows he's a great hitter, so I'll be happy to have him in the lineup," Kuroda said. "I think he'll really cheer up the clubhouse."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.