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Ely to make debut for Dodgers on Wednesday

Ely to make debut for Dodgers on Wednesday

NEW YORK -- The starting pitcher for the Dodgers on Wednesday will be 23-year-old right-hander John Ely, and if you've never heard of him, neither have some of his new teammates.

"Who?" said right fielder Andre Ethier, when told by reporters. "I don't even know who's starting for us. I don't even know who that is. I don't want to sound like a jerk, but I don't know him."

Ely was obtained with Jon Link from the White Sox in the offseason trade for Juan Pierre, and the Dodgers, who often talk about not rushing young pitchers, will be throwing him to the wolves Wednesday, asking him to make his Major League debut in New York with only three Triple-A starts on his resume and, while he's at it, stop a three-game losing streak.

Can he handle all of that?

"We'll find out," said manager Joe Torre, who will send Ely out in place of disabled Opening Day starter Vicente Padilla. "I watched him pitch one time in spring. He looked very aggressive. We'll probably be able to tell early if his personality is good out there."

Ely was a non-roster pitcher, so the club moved catcher Brad Ausmus (back surgery) onto the 60-day disabled list to make room for Ely on the 40-man roster and optioned Link back to Triple-A Albuquerque after he appeared in both games of Tuesday's doubleheader.

Ely was taken by Chicago in the third round of the 2007 Draft out of Miami (Ohio) University. He went 14-2 with a 2.82 ERA at Double-A last year and is 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA in three starts for Albuquerque, having last pitched April 21. He has 12 strikeouts, but also eight walks, in 18 innings.

In one Major League Spring Training game for the Dodgers, he allowed two runs on six hits in three innings. He throws a sinker, cutter, changeup and curveball, and is not overpowering, with a fastball in the low-90s.

"The guy's a winner," said catcher A.J. Ellis, who saw Ely earlier this year at Albuquerque. "He finds a way. Lucas May and Russell Mitchell faced him last year and said they'd walk back to the dugout asking why they didn't hit this guy."

Ely is coming off his best of three starts for Albuquerque, allowing one run over seven innings. Jim Slaton, acting bullpen coach for the Dodgers, saw Ely's first two starts in Albuquerque, but dismissed the results because of the altitude.

"I loved the way he competed to keep us in the game, and that's all you can ask when you're pitching there," said Slaton. "Three games in Triple-A, you don't know how he's going to react [to New York]. We'll just see what happens. He didn't have good command when I saw him, but I could tell he's been around the strike zone by the way he pitched."

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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