LOS ANGELES -- When the Dodgers this week promoted outfielder Scott Van Slyke, last year's Minor League position Player of the Year, from Triple-A Albuquerque to Los Angeles, they also promoted Shawn Tolleson, last year's Minor League Pitcher of the Year, from Double-A to Triple-A.
Maybe the dots connect or maybe it's coincidence, but the Tolleson move comes as reliever Todd Coffey continues to struggle. Coffey couldn't finish off Friday night's ninth inning that started with a six-run lead, requiring manager Don Mattingly to use Ronald Belisario for the final out.
Mattingly virtually excused Coffey -- whose ERA is 16.20 -- because his use has been "inconsistent." Of course, that's because he hasn't pitched effectively enough for the manager to want to use him consistently.
Coffey also missed 13 games on the disabled list with what was announced as a knee injury, although that move coincided with a roster numbers jam and was made one day after Coffey said he was fine.
What is clear is that while Matt Guerrier is on the disabled list and Mike MacDougal will be released on Sunday, Josh Lindblom and Belisario are now getting the innings Coffey was expected to eat, and the club seems to be preparing Tolleson for his Major League debut.
Meanwhile, bullpen coach Ken Howell, nearly fully healed from a diabetes-related wound, studied Coffey's poor outing Friday night and suggested the right-hander move his position on the rubber from the third-base side to the middle.
"Everything is to one side of the plate," Howell said. "He's having trouble throwing away to right-handers, everything is running back over the middle and it's easy for the hitter to track balls that way. We know he has the ability to do better. When he tries to get pitches out there, now he's yanking them. I think shifting his position will help."