LOS ANGELES -- Manager Grady Little seems to be tiring of the daily updates of pitching injuries. Discussing his probable starters for upcoming games, about the only thing he could promise was that there would be one. Who would start when isn't as clear. Tentatively, Chad Billingsley, Mark Hendrickson and Derek Lowe will pitch in Houston on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, but only if Hendrickson and Lowe are not needed in relief of Eric Stults on Sunday. Little said he was hoping for five innings from Stults, who last started in Triple-A Las Vegas on June 29 and last started in the Major Leagues on the final day of the 2006 season. Billingsley, still nursing a middle finger blister, split his between-starts bullpen session with half on Saturday and half Sunday, trying to avoid the cumulative effect of too many pitches at one time irritating the blister.More
Little said he planned to keep Brad Penny on a five-day cycle and start him Thursday in Colorado. If Little sticks with six starters, Bret Tomko would likely follow on Friday. Then Stults or Billingsley would be in line for Saturday. "All I can tell you is, we're still not completely smoothed out yet," said Little. "The key to the whole thing is to have everyone healthy and the starters go deeper on a more consistent basis. What we got from Brett Tomko and Brad Penny this week has been a big help. Good, solid performances out of our starters will fix us right up." Saito uncertain: Closer Takashi Saito missed his fourth consecutive game and has expressed concern over shoulder blade discomfort he said is similar to disk problems he encountered several years ago in Japan. Little, however, said he's been told the injury "is not that serious" and that Saito would fly with the club to Houston after Sunday's game and not be disabled. Wolf advancing: Randy Wolf, disabled with a shoulder impingement since July 3, emerged from Sunday's 45-pitch bullpen session saying he was ready for a Minor League rehabilitation assignment Wednesday at Class A Inland Empire. Wolf is hopeful he would be ready to follow that by returning to the Dodgers' rotation, although he isn't sure. "Making only one rehab start isn't set in stone," Wolf said. "If I feel strong and I can get up and down [between innings] and not tighten up, then I can get back in there. But it's dangerous to just say you're all in until you see how it reacts." In Sunday's bullpen session, his first since the injury, Wolf lost his command as it progressed. "It was good in the beginning, but I got a little tired at the end," he said. "I haven't really thrown much and that's by design. The idea was to get all of the inflammation out and now that it doesn't bother me, we can be aggressive." Building up pitch count is the goal. He's targeting around 65-75 for Wednesday. If the club felt comfortable, he could give five innings in his first start -- that would put him right around where current Dodgers starters are averaging. Martin chats: Catcher Russell Martin will take part in a live web chat on dodgers.com on Tuesday at 2 p.m. PT. The All-Star catcher was voted by the fans as the next bobblehead recipient and fans will receive a doll with his likeness on Aug. 2 vs. the Giants. Newk visits Brooklyn: Sunday is Don Newcombe bobblehead day at Keyspan Park in Brooklyn, the Class A affiliate of the Mets. Newcombe, the Dodgers' director of community affairs, is on hand for the special game. Newcombe has also been honored with a bobblehead in the past at Dodger Stadium. Planting seeds in Iraq: The Dodgers are donating 400 bags of sunflower seeds to Blue Star Mothers of America for U.S. troops overseas through their seed supplier, David Seeds. The individual bags of seeds will be placed in care packages for the troops. Blue Star Mothers of America is a 501(c)3 service organization of mothers who have, or have had, children honorably serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. Coming up: Billingsley (6-0, 3.56 ERA) opposes Chris Sampson (7-6, 4.15) in Houston at 5:05 PT 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.Less