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Lowe feeling fine, causes havoc in 'pen

Lowe's elbow not a cause for concern

LOS ANGELES -- Derek Lowe on Thursday said his elbow felt "100 percent fine," but oh what havoc it caused.

Lowe was removed after five innings on Wednesday night for precautionary reasons with what was described as elbow stiffness, triggering extended use of the bullpen and resulting in the addition of a 12th pitcher.

That 12th pitcher required the demotion of Opening Day starting third baseman Blake DeWitt. DeWitt's place was taken by Cory Wade, a 24-year-old right-hander promoted from Double-A Jacksonville.

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The key reason for the move was the use of closer Takashi Saito for 32 pitches on Wednesday night and Jonathan Broxton for 34. Manager Joe Torre said Broxton was unavailable Thursday night and he planned to use Scott Proctor or Joe Beimel to close if Saito couldn't take the ball.

"This is not something we planned to do, but we felt we needed to do that," said Torre, whose starting pitchers are averaging 5 1/3 innings. "He's a reliever who can get loose and pitch. He can take some of the pressure off."

Torre has felt hamstrung by a bullpen that has included at various times Chan Ho Park, Hong-Chih Kuo and Esteban Loaiza, all natural starters not adept at the rigors of relief work. Although Torre said earlier in the week that Yhency Brazoban was "at the top of the list" if a 12th pitcher was needed, he instead was sent from Jacksonville to Triple-A Las Vegas. Wade was chosen because, unlike Brazoban, he's more suited to throwing multiple innings.

"We just felt we needed somebody coming right now and we felt Cory was that guy," said Torre.

Torre still wavered on who would start on Sunday. On Wednesday, he said the candidates were Park and Loaiza, with Kuo going to the bullpen. But plans tend to change in a hurry these days.

A good example was Lowe, who was removed for an injury which he really struggled trying to describe. Less than 24 hours later he was taking batting practice and participating in pregame action as if nothing was wrong. Having thrown only 67 pitches, Lowe might have been a candidate to make that Sunday start on three days' rest if he hadn't left injured. "It's 100 percent fine," he said. "I'll play catch, play long-toss, fly [to Florida] and pitch Tuesday," he said.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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