Vargas could take over fifth-starter role

Vargas could take over fifth-starter role

BOSTON -- The Dodgers' fifth-starter shell game has a new/old name in play: Claudio Vargas.

In his first start for Triple-A Albuquerque on Thursday night, the right-hander allowed one run on a solo home run in three innings, with four strikeouts and no walks.

Vargas was signed earlier in the week, two weeks after being cut loose by Milwaukee, where he had a 7.32 ERA in 17 relief appearances. The three innings was his longest outing of the year, an indication the Dodgers will try to stretch him out and make him a starter again.

Last year, the Dodgers went 30-16 (.650) in games started by someone other than Hiroki Kuroda, Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley or Randy Wolf. This year, Los Angeles is 11-11 in games started by someone other than Kuroda, Kershaw, Billingsley or Vicente Padilla.

Vargas pitched briefly for the Dodgers last year. He missed the first three months with right elbow problems, allowed only two runs in 11 innings of relief after returning and was quickly dealt to the Brewers to make room on the roster after the acquisition of George Sherrill.

Vargas, who turns 32 on Saturday, joins an Albuquerque rotation filled with castoffs. In addition to Vargas, the rotation consists of rehabbing knuckleballer Charlie Haeger, Seth Etherton (in his 12th Minor League season), Tim Corcoran (in his 14th Minor League season) and Alberto Bastardo (in his ninth Minor League season).

In other Albuquerque news, infielder Nick Green asked for and was granted his release, one day before Chin-lung Hu was promoted to fill in for Rafael Furcal, who is on the bereavement list. Green had been designated for assignment May 28 after spending more than three weeks with the Dodgers. He had accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A.