GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The pitching population in the Dodgers' Major League camp was trimmed by two Saturday morning, when right-hander John Ely was optioned to Minor League camp and veteran lefty Ron Mahay was granted his release. Infielder Eugenio Velez, like Mahay invited to camp as a non-roster player on a Minor League contract, was reassigned to the Minor League camp. While the optioning of Ely followed his rough start in Friday night's exhibition, in which he allowed six runs and eight hits in four innings against the Mariners, he remains a rotation candidate to fill in for injured Jon Garland when the need for a fifth starter arises.
"He's just going to stay here and go long the next time," said manager Don Mattingly. With two off days in the first week of the regular season, the Dodgers do not figure to have to go beyond four starters until April 12. Another candidate to sub for Garland, recovering from a strain to his left oblique muscle, is Tim Redding. Redding had to make a hasty retreat from his start Friday afternoon in Tucson against the Diamondbacks when he felt a twinge in his lower back, but took the practice field Saturday morning with the rest of the club. The right-hander planned to stretch and throw, tests which will determine whether he will be able to proceed without delay. Mahay's contract included an escape clause, which he chose to exercise after the Dodgers informed him that he would not make the season-opening roster. "We had to make up our mind by Friday (the escape clause trigged on Mar. 25), and that made the decision difficult," Mattingly said. "He had no more scheduled innings, so we left it up to him how he wanted to handle it." Mahay appeared in eight games and pitched 7 1/3 innings, allowing 11 hits and eight runs for a preseason ERA of 9.82. Velez got a lot of exposure in Cactus League play, going 7-for-33 (.212) in 19 games.