Wade close to returning for Dodgers

Wade close to returning for LA

For the Dodgers, relief may finally be in sight -- literally, as well as figuratively.

Dodgers manager Joe Torre said before Thursday's game at Minute Maid Park in Houston that Cory Wade, who was placed on the disabled list, retroactive to April 12, with right shoulder bursitis, could be close to returning.

Wade threw 20 pitches Thursday in an extended spring training game at Camelback Ranch in Arizona, reporting no pain or discomfort, and will throw again Saturday. Depending on how that goes, Wade could skip his Minor League rehab stint and soon rejoin the Dodgers, who are in Colorado Friday for a three-game series with the Rockies before heading to San Francisco for a three-game set with the Giants.

"He seems to be fine, but he feels a little rusty," Torre said of Wade. "We'll do it again Saturday, extended again, and make a decision from there. We'll decide whether he'll join us in San Francisco or at home.

"But he felt fine. There is a chance he'll meet us in San Francisco. I think we're pretty comfortable with the health part of it."

Torre said he obviously will be a lot more comfortable with his bullpen after Wade returns. As it is, Torre is having to make do, forcing him into situations like on Wednesday, when he opted to not go with Hong-Chih Kuo in the eighth inning against the Astros.

Clinging to a one-run lead, Torre instead went with rookie Ronald Belisario, who promptly gave up a home run to Lance Berkman and then threw a wild pitch while trying to intentionally walk Geoff Blum.

That allowed Hunter Pence to advance from second to third, and he later scored the winning run on a single by Ivan Rodriguez.

"I'd be more comfortable if we had Cory Wade out there and Kuo pitching the way he did for us last year," Torre said. "I think that once we get whole, the people we have down there will be able to do the job.

"My situation there [Wednesday[ is that we have to get comfortable getting to [closer Jonathan] Broxton. When you have a lead, you have to be able to get it done, and we didn't do it. We outscored everybody at home, so we didn't get exposed."

Exposed?

"[Wednesday] night was a perfect example," Torre said. "Went to a kid who was really inexperienced at doing an important job. He went out there and threw hard, but he didn't get any kind of movement that he normally has. That may have been because he was trying to throw it too hard."

Another option Torre is mulling is Jeff Weaver, who could come up from Triple-A Albuquerque to fill the bill at long relief or spot starter. In an effort to build up his innings, Weaver will get his first start in Saturday's game at New Orleans.

"He's come up in conversations to be a guy maybe to pitch out of the bullpen or to fill in as a starter," Torre said.

Pitching matchup
LAD: LHP Eric Stults (2-0, 2.61 ERA)
Eric Stults did what a fifth (or is it sixth?) starter needs to do against the Giants. He pitched five innings, allowed two runs and gave his club a chance to win the game. One of the runs scored without a ball leaving the infield after Stults opened the second inning by issuing a walk. He scattered five hits and kept the ball in the park.

COL: RHP Aaron Cook (0-1, 10.22 ERA)
Cook struggled on Saturday afternoon at Dodger Stadium, giving up three home runs in a four-inning start. Manny Ramirez was responsible for two of the runs, the first a line drive to left-center field on a 3-2 pitch and the second a line drive down the left-field line. Cook gave up five runs on eight hits, capped when Andre Ethier pulled a three-run homer into right field in the fourth inning. Cook, Colorado's ace last season, had pitched into the sixth inning in two of his first three starts of 2009.

Tidbits
Thursday's game was the last of the season at Minute Maid Park for the Dodgers, who make only one trip to Houston this year. That fact was duly noted by seldom-used Dodgers backup catcher -- and former Astros backstop -- Brad Ausmus, who quipped, "Yep, this is the last time I'll never play here." ... One day after having his 14-game hitting streak snapped, Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp delivered a leadoff single in the seventh inning of Thursday's game against the Astros.

Tickets
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On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• KCAL

On radio
• KABC 790, KHJ 930 (Español)

Up next
• Saturday: Dodgers (James McDonald, 0-1, 5.87) at Rockies (Ubaldo Jimenez, 1-2, 6.00), 5:10 p.m. PT
• Sunday: Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw, 0-1, 4.41) at Rockies (Jason Marquis, 2-1, 4.26), 12:10 p.m. PT
• Monday: Dodgers (Randy Wolf, 1-1, 4.26) at Giants (TBD), 7:15 p.m. PT

Michael Murphy is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.