Haeger likely facing make-or-break start

Haeger likely facing make-or-break start

ANAHEIM -- It could be make-or-break time for Charlie Haeger.

"Now that he's healthy, it's probably best, in all fairness to him, to make a decision," said Dodgers manager Joe Torre, who gives Haeger a start Thursday night against the Angels. "He's going to have to show us something. Something we have to be comfortable with. Tomorrow's his shot. We'll go from there."

It will be Haeger's sixth start of the season, the others coming as the fifth starter out of Spring Training, but first since he went on the disabled list May 9 with the first of what was officially two foot injuries.

Unofficially, Haeger spent the time healing from bruised confidence -- and an 0-4 record with an 8.53 ERA.

"I'm finally feeling comfortable. I haven't been comfortable for almost the whole season," Haeger said. "I felt fine in the Florida start, but after the San Francisco game, I just looked at it real closely and realized that when you throw the knuckleball, everything is under the microscope. I could have done a better job bouncing back from a bad game. That's my fault.

"I didn't throw the baseball well and I wasn't there confidence-wise. You can't pitch in the big leagues if you're not confident in yourself. Now it's back. I feel no pain in my foot and I'm throwing strikes more. In the bullpen [Tuesday] I threw a lot of strikes. When I do that, I know I can get the job done."

Haeger has had two DL stints, interrupted long enough for an ineffective relief appearance June 5. All told he's had seven rehab starts, going 3-4 with a 4.83 ERA, but he's coming off his best one, six scoreless innings for Triple-A Albuquerque on Sunday.

He'll be pitching on three days' rest, but Torre discounted the effects of that because the knuckleball does not strain the arm. Haeger is out of options, so he cannot be sent down to the Minor Leagues without the chance of another club claiming him.