GLENDALE, Ariz. -- While John Ely and Tim Redding compete for what might be an available fifth-starter spot, Jon Garland on Wednesday threw like it might not be available for long, if at all.
Garland, expected to be the fifth starter until he strained a left oblique March 9, is still throwing on flat ground well into his rehab, but he did it Wednesday with a firmness that indicated the pain is gone.
"It's gone except when I sneeze," said Garland. "Otherwise, it's doing good. I haven't completely let it go, and off a mound, I don't know. But there definitely was something behind it today. Since I started playing catch [last week], I haven't just been going through the motions and the last couple days I'm going heavier and heavier."
Garland hasn't missed a start because of an injury in nine years and was signed as much for his innings-eating durability as anything. The Dodgers haven't given a timetable on Garland's return, but they don't need a fifth starter until April 12 and the hope is that he'd be ready shortly thereafter.
However, Garland will need to rebuild the arm strength needed by a starter, which usually takes four or five spring outings. If he comes out of Wednesday's workout healthy, he appears close to the next step in his recovery -- pitching off a mound.
Garland said he expects to leave Arizona with the club Sunday and continue his rehab in Los Angeles, then return to Arizona when he's ready to pitch in games.