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07/28/10 10:49 PM ET

Johnson closer to rehab stint for Dodgers

SAN DIEGO -- Dodgers outfielder Reed Johnson, on the 15-day disabled list, moved closer to a Minor League rehab assignment Wednesday when he played catch and took some batting practice, but the real test will be Thursday when he resumes running.

Johnson has been out since July 9 with back spasms that he's dealt with sporadically since 2007 disk surgery. He thought he was close to a rehab assignment a week ago, but suffered a setback when he ran on a treadmill.

"Today I felt good after also throwing yesterday and that was a good sign," said Johnson, whose injury, combined with Manny Ramirez's injury, led to the Wednesday acquisition of Scott Podsednik from Kansas City.

"The way it progressed from yesterday, I don't think it will be too long [before he's ready for games]. Once the spasms settled down, it usually goes fast. I just don't want to come back with it lingering. I want to come back with it completely resolved."

Pitching becomes trade focus for LA

SAN DIEGO -- Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said he's focused back on acquiring pitching, but wouldn't hint at how successful he believes he'll be leading up to Saturday's Trade Deadline.

"It's tough to tell," he said. "We'll take it as it comes. We don't have to put them in order."

Colletti acquired outfielder Scott Podsednik Wednesday for Minor Leaguers Lucas May and Elisaul Pimentel. He's rumored to be after a handful of pitchers, including Ted Lilly, Jake Westbrook, David Aardsma and Scott Down.

"There are only a few out there we have interest in," he said. "A very small number. I'd like to get it done by Aug. 1. But sometimes players become available after that who aren't available now."

Colletti gave a rundown of players he's acquired after the July 31 Trade Deadline -- Ronnie Belliard, Vicente Padilla, Jon Garland, Jim Thome, Greg Maddux, Marlon Anderson.

"You can still do it," he said.

Barring trade, Ely likely to get call Saturday

SAN DIEGO -- Assuming the Dodgers do not acquire a starting pitcher in the next two days, manager Joe Torre said Triple-A Albuquerque's John Ely "seems to have the inside track" on being the starting pitcher Saturday in San Francisco.

"He's been alerted to be available," Torre said.

Of course, the Dodgers are hoping they can acquire a veteran starter before Saturday's Trade Deadline and, even better, before Saturday's start. Torre said he will announce a starter Thursday.

He said Chad Billingsley, who pitched six scoreless innings Tuesday night against the Padres, "came in and threw his hat in the ring" to start Saturday on three days' rest. Torre didn't completely rule it out, but sounded hesitant.

"I said I like you where you are right now," Torre said. "Starting pitchers are in a routine. We'll do whatever makes the most sense. We're pitching so well, I'm not sure I want to disrupt it."

Miller sent to Triple-A after clearing waivers

SAN DIEGO -- Reliever Justin Miller cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Albuquerque by the Dodgers on Wednesday.

Miller was designated for assignment Friday when the Dodgers promoted Kenley Jansen. Miller had a 4.44 ERA in 19 games after his promotion May 27.

The Dodgers chose risking losing Miller through waivers over optioning down rookie Travis Schlichting.

The hard-throwing Jansen, meanwhile, has given manager Joe Torre a replacement for Ronald Belisario, who is working out at Dodger Stadium but still on the restricted list with what is reportedly substance abuse issues.

"[Jansen] gives us fewer days with nobody available," said Torre. "It's a little more of a safety net. He gives us something significant. He can alternate with [Hong-Chih] Kuo [setting up for Jonathan Broxton]. Hopefully that's the case, because it means we're in pretty good shape. That would be an ideal situation."

Torre said he hoped to give Kuo Wednesday and Thursday off after his two-inning outing Tuesday night.

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


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