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09/01/09 2:50 AM ET
Dodgers trade for Thome, Garland
Slugging DH, right-hander eligible for postseason rosters
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers completed a last-minute roster makeover before Monday night's deadline, acquiring Chicago White Sox slugger Jim Thome and Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Jon Garland. Both players will be eligible for postseason play. In return, the White Sox will receive Minor League infielder Justin Fuller. The D-backs will receive a player to be named, who, according to several Dodgers, will be Tony Abreu, but Abreu needs to first clear waivers. Abreu once was considered a top infield prospect, but his progress was stalled by three years of injuries. The right-handed Garland, 29, moves into a rotation that has struggled to find a fifth starter all season and has been further weakened by the loss of Hiroki Kuroda, who was hit on the head by a line drive. Garland is expected to take the place of knuckleball specialist Charlie Haeger, with Vicente Padilla holding the spot for Kuroda, who could return to the rotation as soon as Sunday. "Jon Garland is going to get the ball every five days, and if we have six starters, so be it," said manager Joe Torre. The durable Garland, a World Series winner with the White Sox, already had been named Arizona's starter for Thursday night against Haeger, so he probably will still pitch Thursday night, only against the D-backs and not for them. "The hardest thing is keeping those emotions in check," said Garland, who heard rumblings of a deal before Monday night's game but was officially informed of the trade in the sixth inning. "I've gone to war with those guys the past five months, so it's going to be different." Garland said goodbye to his former teammates after the game, grabbed his equipment and walked down the hall to the Dodgers clubhouse. "That might be the strangest part about it," he said. "Finding out in the sixth or seventh inning, packing up and showering up, walking right across, it's a little weird. "For me, born and raised in L.A., the chance to come back and play for the Dodgers, be right in the thick of a pennant race, it's exciting." General manager Ned Colletti said he tried to sign Garland as a free agent last winter (signing Randy Wolf instead) and considered adding him at the July 31 Trade Deadline. "I wasn't sure Arizona was willing to deal within the division, but [D-Backs GM] Josh Byrnes said if there's a chance to help his club, he'd give it consideration," Colletti said. The Thome opportunity, however, arose late Monday morning and Colletti compared it to the last-gasp deal that brought Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers last summer. He said Thome called him before the trade was complete and said he'd be happy to help the Dodgers in their title drive, but physically was not able to play first base. He will be used exclusively as a left-handed power bat off the bench. With the White Sox, he had done nothing other than be a designated hitter the past two seasons. Thome, 12th on the all-time list with 564 career home runs, will give the Dodgers the left-handed threat that Matt Stairs provides the Phillies, who beat the Dodgers with a home run off the bench in the playoffs last year. Colletti said that Thome also brings the kind of leadership any clubhouse could use in a pennant race. "He's a great influence in the clubhouse, one of the true good guys in the game," Colletti said. "He's a tremendous leader. He called me to make sure we knew first base was not an option for him, but he'd help in any way he could. For a player to get on the phone just lets you know what kind of guy he is and I appreciate that." The moves come one day after Colletti acquired Ronnie Belliard for added versatility as a utility infielder. Belliard homered in his first Dodgers at-bat on Monday night, starting in place of All-Star second baseman Orlando Hudson. Garland, an All-Star in 2005, is 8-11 with a 4.29 ERA for the D-backs this year. He's also played with the White Sox and Angels and has a 114-100 career mark and 4.29 ERA. Thome, a five-time All-Star, has 23 homers and 74 RBIs this year. "He's a great guy in the clubhouse," said Ramirez, a teammate of Thome in Cleveland. "I can't wait to see him. He's one of the best hitters, too. I'm just happy he's on my team." Thome will be a free agent after this season, but the Dodgers will pick up some of the remaining $2 million of his $13 million salary this year. The remaining $1.2 million of Garland's 2009 salary, plus a buyout of either $1 million or $2.5 million from a 2010 mutual option, will be paid by the D-backs. The Dodgers will need to make several moves to clear space on the 40-man roster for Thome and the anticipated activations from the 60-day disabled list of Doug Mientkiewicz and Will Ohman.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.