Notes: Lowe should be good to go

Notes: Lowe should be good to go

PHOENIX -- Derek Lowe reported early to the trainer's room on Sunday to receive treatment for a bad bruise at the base of his left hand, suffered when he was drilled by a Chad Tracy line drive that forced his early exit from Saturday night's start.

"It's sore. Really, really sore," said Lowe. "But as long as it's not my pitching hand, I can't really see not making my next start, unless it just doesn't get better in the next five days."

X-rays of the hand were negative. Lowe underwent electronic stimulation therapy and said he had slightly more flexibility in the thumb area than the night before, when he initially believed his hand had been broken.

Lowe said he might affix additional padding to his glove to cushion the blow when throws are returned from the catcher, although anything that could distract a batter is likely to be forbidden by umpires.

On Tuesday, Lowe plans to take his usual bullpen session, with an unusual twist.

"I won't catch the ball when it's thrown back -- I'll make Greg Maddux, a [future] Hall of Famer, do it for me," said Lowe. "He said he would, but we haven't done it yet, so we'll see."

Manager Grady Little said he is operating on the assumption that Lowe will make his scheduled start Friday against Colorado, with an extra day of rest provided by Thursday's scheduled off-day.

"I think batting is where he would experience the most difficulty, but batting is not why he's in the game," said Little. "If he has to stand there and take every pitch, fine with me."

Upcoming lineups: Little gave Nomar Garciaparra a planned day off on Sunday, moving second baseman Jeff Kent to first base and inserting Julio Lugo at second base.

In the upcoming series with Cincinnati, the Dodgers will face two left-handed starters in Chris Michalak and Eric Milton. The Dodgers' every-day lineup consists of left-handed hitters Kenny Lofton, J.D. Drew and Andre Ethier. In addition, switch-hitting third baseman Wilson Betemit has struggled all year batting right-handed.

Little indicated that Lofton, Drew and Betemit are each likely to get a day off against one of the left-handers. Betemit would be replaced at third base by Lugo. Jason Repko would probably get a couple of starts -- in place of Lofton in one game and Drew in the other. Ethier, a rookie, is batting .386 against left-handers; Drew, .269; Lofton, .231 and Betemit, .175.

Quick work: Left-handed reliever Tim Hamulack was promoted on Saturday to replace Giovani Carrara. He arrived at Chase Field at the start of batting practice and pitched the sixth inning, retiring all three batters he faced, two on strikeouts.

"I didn't expect to get in there right away, but I'm glad I did," said Hamulack, who opened the season with the Dodgers but was sent down with a 6.57 ERA after two months.

"The first time I was up, I was too anxious -- tried to do too much. The first three weeks down there, it was the same thing. I was trying to strike out everybody with one pitch, and instead I was walking as many as I was striking out. Then I got more comfortable. Now I just go pitch to pitch."

Hamulack had a 1.42 ERA at Las Vegas with 44 strikeouts and 26 walks in 38 1/3 innings.

Unsung hero: Little, who lately has been fielding questions about the possibility that rookie catcher Russell Martin is being overused, pointed out to reporters that Martin's hustle on Saturday night led to a run in a one-run win.

With two outs in the fourth inning and Ethier on third base and Martin on first, Lowe bounced to Arizona shortstop Craig Counsell. Second baseman Orlando Hudson, apparently assuming that Counsell would make the play to first base with a pitcher batting, casually moved toward second base and was out of position when Counsell flipped to him. Martin was running hard, and Hudson could not get to second base in time as Ethier scored.

"With all the talk about Martin playing a lot, he's still got a lot of life in that body," said Little. "That was one of the biggest plays, him hustling down the line."

Life in the bullpen: Although relievers have pitched 29 2/3 of the last 42 1/3 innings for the Dodgers, Little said only Brett Tomko was unavailable on Sunday, while Tuesday's scheduled starter, Mark Hendrickson, was still a possibility in long relief.

Versatility: Not that the Dodgers need another infielder with Lugo, Ramon Martinez and Olmedo Saenz on the bench, but backup catcher Toby Hall is taking ground balls at third base with some regularity.

"I was originally drafted as a third baseman," said Hall. "I played a couple games there this year with Tampa Bay."

Coming up: Cincinnati's Michalak (1-1, 4.76) opposes the Dodgers' Brad Penny (13-7, 3.95) on Monday night at 7:10 PT in the opener of a three-game series.

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