Penny ready to be added to bullpen

Penny ready to be added to bullpen

SAN DIEGO -- Injured Dodgers pitcher Brad Penny was so impressive in a simulated game Monday that he's likely to be activated for bullpen duty for the weekend series in Colorado.

"Penny was very good today," manager Joe Torre said. "I talked with him about coming out of the bullpen, and the way we're using our bullpen, the more the merrier."

Indeed, with 42-year-old Greg Maddux and 20-year-old Clayton Kershaw in the starting rotation, Torre's bullpen has been called on to bail out the starters after early exits. Kershaw, for example, pitched only four innings Sunday, and Torre went into Monday night's Maddux start with Jonathan Broxton, Hong-Chih Kuo and Chan Ho Park unavailable. Torre said he might use rookie Corey Wade to close, if needed, on Monday.

So, Torre is eagerly awaiting reinforcements in Penny, as well as closer Takashi Saito, who will have a one-inning simulated game Wednesday and also is likely to be activated in Colorado.

Penny threw 40 warmup pitches Monday, followed by 30 pitches to Russell Martin, Juan Pierre and Danny Ardoin. Torre said Penny would have a light bullpen session Wednesday.

"We aren't looking to bring him in in the middle of an inning," Torre said. "It will be mapped out. He was concerned with his warmups and Rick [Honeycutt, pitching coach], I think, he'll have plenty of time to get that accomplished."

Penny said he felt the ball was coming out of his hand easily. Ardoin and Pierre agreed that Penny was throwing effortlessly.

"He had the same life on his fastball he had in '05 and '06 when I hit against him. Much different than when he had the simulated game earlier this year. No comparison," Ardoin said.

"You could see it on his face. He's feeling good," said Pierre, a teammate of Penny's in Florida as well as Los Angeles.

Penny, the club's Opening Day starter, has spent two stints on the disabled list with shoulder tendinitis and bursitis, limiting him to two starts since June 14 and one victory since May 2. He began the season 5-2 with a 3.19 ERA, but followed that with a seven-game losing streak and overall is 6-9 with a 6.05 ERA.

In other medical news, Jeff Kent did not make the trip as originally planned to continue rehabilitation from last Tuesday's left knee surgery. Kent developed a sore calf and doctors felt it was unwise for him to travel so soon after the operation, according to trainer Stan Conte.

Torre, however, said the change in plans did not change the chances of Kent returning this month, at least for pinch-hitting. Torre said Kent might still join the club at some point on this 10-game trip.

Injured shortstop Rafael Furcal came out of his aggressive workout Sunday well enough to return to the field for more drills Monday, leading to the belief that he really is healed from back surgery. However, he still must go through the equivalent of a Spring Training and there is no timetable when he will be game-ready.

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