LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers designated veteran pitcher Russ Ortiz for assignment Sunday and recalled rookie Jon Link in the first of several anticipated moves to strengthen the bullpen. In the coming week, the club is expected to activate left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo and right-hander Ronald Belisario. Kuo is recovering from a sore elbow and has a scheduled Minor League rehab appearance Sunday. Belisario, who missed five weeks of Spring Training with visa problems, is scheduled to make back-to-back appearances at extended spring training Sunday and Monday and is also likely to be activated during the week. Their absences opened the door for a non-roster pitcher like Ortiz to make the club, but his 10.29 ERA and inability to close out one-sided games as a long reliever sealed his fate.
Link, acquired from the White Sox in the Juan Pierre trade, did not pitch particularly well at Triple-A Albuquerque with a 6.23 ERA in 4 1/3 innings over five appearances. This is his first big league callup and he's likely to be sent back upon the activation of Kuo or Belisario. "That comes with the territory of an organization deep in pitching," the 26-year-old Link said. "Whether I go back down or not, it's an opportunity for me to show what I can do when the games matter and I'm looking forward to the opportunity, even if it's a short time. I'll take it and run with it." Ortiz, 35, was informed of the decision after batting practice before Sunday's game. The Dodgers have 10 days to trade Ortiz, release him or get him past waivers, after which he could be outrighted to Triple-A. Ortiz said he asked if the club wanted to keep him and was told yes, but Ortiz said he's not sure he would accept. "If it's for a specific purpose for the opportunity to come back, yeah," he said. "But I'm not going to go down just to put a uniform on. I don't need to put a uniform on to be happy." Ortiz said he was undone by three bad innings, but acknowledged that he didn't pitch well enough to remain in the Major Leagues for the entire year, as was his goal. "It's kind of incomplete for me," he said. "If anything, I let myself and my teammates down."