GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers injured pitcher Jon Garland took a big step in his recovery Saturday when he threw off a mound for the first time since straining an oblique muscle March 9.
Garland, slotted as the fifth starter this year, threw 15 pitches and told club officials he felt "nothing" from the injury, which occurred as he made a pitch.
Because of days off, the fifth starter spot does not come up for the Dodgers until April 12. Garland will open the season on the disabled list and it's unlikely he'll be ready to make that outing, but on the current pace of his recovery, he could miss only one or two starts.
The battle to fill in for Garland has come down to non-roster right-hander Tim Redding and right-hander John Ely, who is on the 40-man roster. Redding said his back felt much better Saturday after leaving a game Friday with soreness. He was able to take part in some of the club's workouts. Ely was optioned to the Minor Leagues Saturday, so he can get the innings necessary to start in the big leagues.
Ely is the most likely to get that call, as much because the club has options on him and he can be moved up and down without risk of losing him to another club. For Redding to get the call, the Dodgers would need to guarantee his $750,000 salary, clear a 40-man roster spot and risk losing him to send him back to the Minor Leagues.