07/29/10 10:52 PM ET
Podsednik shows wheels in Dodgers debut
Outfielder picks up steal in 0-for-3 day from leadoff spot
By Ken Gurnick and Evan Drellich / MLB.com
Podsednik arrived a little after 1 p.m. PT after waking up at 5:30 a.m. CT in Kansas City. He was charged with an error on a difficult play with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. Podsednik slid in an attempt to cut off a Will Venable gapper to left-center but couldn't come up with the ball and Venable took third.
"I thought so, I thought so," Podsednik said when asked about the toughness of the scoring. "Venable can run a little bit. I was just trying to cut it off. I had to go to a knee to slide and keep it from getting by me, and I mishandled it."
Podsednik made good on manager Joe Torre's decision to bat him leadoff with a steal after a two-out walk against Mat Latos in the bottom of the third. That was Podsednik's 31st stolen base of the season, although it didn't require a headfirst slide -- the pitch got away.
"I didn't know that the pitch got away from him, I didn't look in," Podsednik said. "[Latos] had thrown over twice. He was going relatively quickly. I was trying to anticipate it and I left just a hair too soon."
Podsednik also grounded out and reached on a fielder's choice. The latter came with two on and one out in the fifth on a grounder to first that led to an out at the plate. He struck out swinging in the eighth. Torre bumped Rafael Furcal to the No. 2 spot in a move he thought could benefit both players.
"I talked to Raffy about it, and he had no problem, try it this way," Torre said. "Podsednik is probably more comfortable there, switch-hitter. The fact that Raffy will be hitting in front of [Andre] Ethier may give him more pitches to hit. We'll give it a test run. I'd rather have somebody running and stealing in front of Raffy than Ethier."
Before the game, Podsednik said he had not talked to the Dodgers this past offseason, when he found himself with fewer offers than he desired and signed a one-year deal with Kansas City.
"I've played against most of the guys in here," Podsednik said. "I don't think I've played with any of them, but I'm pretty familiar with most of the guys. This was my first experience getting traded during the season. It's a little bit different, a little more hectic ... It's a lot more fun being in the middle of a race and contending at the end than where we were with the Royals."
Billingsley to start Saturday on short rest
SAN DIEGO -- A lobbying campaign by pitching coach Rick Honeycutt and pitcher Chad Billingsley convinced Dodgers manager Joe Torre to name Billingsley his starter on short rest for Saturday against the Giants.
Billingsley, who turned 26 on Thursday, will be starting on three days' rest for the first time in his career. He is coming off six scoreless innings Tuesday night in San Diego, when he threw 84 pitches on five days' rest. In his previous outing, he threw a shutout against the Mets, making 125 pitches. He's 9-5 with a 4.00 ERA.
"There's always a little concern because we don't do it much," Honeycutt said of the quick return. "I think we only did it with Derek Lowe before. You never really know. But the way he's throwing and his last outing, we're using his judgment."
Honeycutt said when he brought up the possibility, Billingsley didn't even let him finish the sentence.
"I started the explanation and he said, 'I'm OK for Saturday if you want me to do it,'" Honeycutt said. "He feels good."
It is Clayton Kershaw's five-game suspension that put Torre in this jam. Kershaw, who last pitched Sunday, was suspended five games for intentionally hitting Giants outfielder Aaron Rowand with a pitch last week.
"This keeps us from having to make a [roster] move," said Torre, who a day earlier said he was leaning toward starting Triple-A Albuquerque's John Ely.
Torre said, "I still think there's a chance to make another move" and acquire a pitcher by Saturday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, but chances that would happen, and the pitcher would be able to start Saturday, are long.
Torre said he was OK with Billingsley coming back on short rest as long as Honeycutt was.
"I rely on my pitching coach," he said. "He was a pitcher and he knows what the body feels like. He said he just felt Chad was feeling good enough."
Dodgers designate reliever Taschner
SAN DIEGO -- The Dodgers designated reliever Jack Taschner for assignment on Thursday to make room for outfielder Scott Podsednik, leaving Taschner unsure of the next step in his career.
Taschner, a 32-year-old left-hander, made three appearances for the Dodgers and recorded one out to three walks, one hit and one run. He was promoted just eight days ago from Triple-A Albuquerque after he was designated for assignment by the Pirates in June. Taschner is 1-0 with a 6.41 ERA in the Majors this season.
"It's been a long year," Taschner said at his locker Thursday afternoon. "Pittsburgh definitely came as a surprise when I got designated by them. I was pitching way out of what I was used to doing. That was a bitter pill. This one here, one week, I mean ... . "
Taschner said he didn't know yet whether he would remain in the Dodgers' organization but said he felt no bitterness, even though the brevity of his stay made it hard to get comfortable.
"I really don't know," Taschner said. "Wait and see. I haven't talked to my wife and I haven't talked to my agent to see what's going on. I don't know. We'll just wait and see a little bit, and come Monday I'll find out what happens with the waiver wire and stuff."
Taschner's been without his Wisconsin-based family most of this season, an added consideration for his next move. He worried that taking time off would put him in a bad position for next season.
"I've missed a lot this year, my daughter's just starting to walk," he said. "I haven't really gotten to see her besides videos my wife has sent me."
Sherrill makes progress in past two outings
SAN DIEGO -- Two games does not a trend make, except in the case of struggling Dodgers reliever George Sherrill.
When he retired both batters he faced Wednesday night, after pitching a perfect inning Sunday, it was the first time Sherrill has made back-to-back appearances without allowing a baserunner in almost six weeks.
"It's getting there," said Sherrill, who has had more than a few false starts trying to fight his way out of a season-long slump.
Sherrill has maintained his problems this year are mechanical -- lifting his heel, closing off his shoulder and now separating ball from glove too slowly.
"It's been frustrating trying to pinpoint what's wrong," he said. "When there are three things, that's pretty huge."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. Evan Drellich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.