SAN FRANCISCO -- The Dodgers addressed their bullpen crunch Sunday by recalling D.J. Houlton from Triple-A Las Vegas and placing Chin-hui Tsao on the disabled list with shoulder problems that have plagued him since 2004, required surgery in 2005 and sidelined him the entire 2006 season. Tsao served up Randy Winn's eighth-inning grand slam that turned Saturday's game into an extra-inning scramble. That was just final confirmation that something was amiss, although all signs have pointed that way since he returned from the disabled list two weeks ago after another shoulder injury. Disabled May 23, Tsao was used in consecutive games immediately after his June 29 activation, and he hasn't looked anything like the pitcher that allowed only one hit in his first 10 2/3 innings. His velocity is down and he's allowed a home run in three of his last four outings.
"It just feels sore," said Tsao. "I'm not sure which part, but in the back [of the shoulder]. It was sore a little bit when I tried to warm up [Saturday], then it got loose and was OK, then hurt after the game." Trainer Stan Conte sounded optimistic that the irritation was caught early, although with the history of his shoulder, including a five-week stint on the disabled list this year already, it's likely Tsao will be out awhile again. When the Dodgers next dip into Las Vegas for bullpen help, they figure to grab veteran Roberto Hernandez. The 42-year-old was promoted there after being signed last week as a free agent after being released by Cleveland. Hernandez has 326 career saves, but only six since 2002. Houlton allowed two earned runs in 6 2/3 innings during a big-league visit this year that lasted from June 30 to July 8. He pitched Thursday night for Las Vegas, making 95 pitches in five innings. He was scheduled to throw a bullpen session Saturday that was scratched when he was told to fly to San Francisco, and he said he was available to pitch Sunday. Tomko meets with Colletti: It wasn't exactly a secret, as general manager Ned Colletti and Sunday starter Brett Tomko sat on a sofa in the middle of the Dodgers clubhouse after Saturday's win and talked. When Tomko spoke with reporters Friday, he hinted that he would soon meet with Colletti to discuss his future with the club, immediate and long-term. Tomko would not go into details about the conversation, but said it was productive. Stults on call: Although Tomko got the start Sunday, Eric Stults was held back from Saturday's 12-inning game to back up Tomko, who has pitched only 2 1/3 innings over the past 15 days and was not expected to make more than 75 pitches Sunday. "Mentally, I've prepared more like a start," said Stults. "I know there's a pretty good chance I'll be pitching because of Brett's pitch count. Hopefully he can get into the fifth inning, but I'll be ready to go whenever." The Dodgers continue to carry 11 pitchers and the bullpen is weakened only two games into the second half with the adjustments necessary after Randy Wolf's shoulder problems and Brad Penny's finger blister. Joe Beimel, Rudy Seanez and Jonathan Broxton pitched Friday night and Saturday. Wolf throws again: Wolf's recovery continued with a second day of catch, extending to about 60 feet, and said he felt fine. He is eligible to return Thursday, but won't, as he still has not thrown off a mound. The end of the month is a more likely targeted return. Kuo throws again: Hong-Chih Kuo tried to play catch again, but said his elbow was stiff and sore. Kuo has had elbow problems since 2000 and he's out indefinitely. Youth camp: The Dodgers and the Blue Cross of California Foundation will host the fourth annual Dodger Youth Baseball Camp, the first of the season, beginning Monday at Dodger Stadium. The camp will have more than 130 boys and girls, ages 7-12, and will feature daily instruction by current and former Dodgers players as well as members of the team's coaching staff. Coaches for the event include Bill Mueller, Dave Jauss, Manny Mota, Mariano Duncan, Rich Donnelly, Rick Honeycutt and Dan Warthen, as well as team staff members Rob Flippo and Doug Jarrow. Former Dodger "Sweet" Lou Johnson also will contribute as an instructor. Campers will be instructed in fundamental skills of the game including hitting, pitching, baserunning, fielding and team defense. All sessions are sold out. At the end of each camp day, a current Dodger will speak to the kids. Currently scheduled to appear are outfielder Andre Ethier, first baseman James Loney and pitcher Chad Billingsley. Coming up: Penny (10-1, 2.39 ERA), whose start was pushed back two days because of a finger blister, opens the homestand against Philadelphia and Jamie Moyer (7-7, 4.43) on Monday night.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.