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Maholm staying focused despite uncertainty

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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Paul Maholm's role remains as uncertain as when he signed with the Dodgers at the start of Spring Training.

Even when normalcy returns to the schedule in April, he's the projected sixth starter for a club with a five-man rotation. In other words, he could be in the bullpen, even though he's been a career-long starter.

The Australian adventure adds another layer of unknown. After throwing three innings in a 5-5 tie with the Rangers on Saturday, Maholm said he still doesn't know if he's even going to Australia, never mind pitching there.

"I'm just preparing to pitch wherever they tell me to," Maholm said. "If I pitch well, everything will work out. I'm not concerned with roles."

Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu are expected to start the two games of the Opening Series against Arizona. Even in that case, Maholm is a candidate to pitch the exhibition game against Team Australia two days prior.

For that to happen, Maholm would be one of the three "exempt" players on the trip,meaning he wouldn't be eligible for the games against the D-backs. The Dodgers need those innings eaten while preserving the active roster for the two games that count. Zach Lee and Matt Magill are among other candidates for that start against Team Australia.

Texas scored a run off Maholm on three hits in the second inning, two hits not leaving the infield. Maholm said he got "rushed" and fell behind in counts, but was pleased at the adjustment he made for a perfect third inning that included two of his four strikeouts. Maholm made 12 additional pitches in the bullpen after his outing, bringing his total to 50.

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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