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Monasterios considered for bullpen too

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- After watching Rule 5 pick and fifth-starter candidate Carlos Monasterios struggle for the first time this spring after throwing nine shutout innings in his first three appearances, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre said the right-hander also is under consideration for a bullpen spot.

Torre also seemed to indicate that the identity of the fifth starter might not even be known by Opening Day.

"It's not only the fifth spot,'' Torre said. "It's a spot on the staff, and that is what we are looking at right now. We aren't really as concerned about who becomes the fifth starter. It's more whether it's 11 or 12 [pitchers on the roster], and who those guys are.''

The Dodgers won't need a fifth starter until at least the fifth game of the season on April 10 at Florida, and because of an off day on April 6, they probably won't even use a fifth starter until the sixth game on April 11 against the Marlins. It is possible that Torre and the front office will simply set the roster by Opening Day, then hold off on identifying a fifth starter until two or three days before one is needed.

As for Monasterios, he retired the first two Los Angeles Angels batters quickly, then ran into trouble after center fielder Jason Repko dropped the ball on what would have been a spectacular running catch at the wall on Torii Hunter. Hunter wound up with a double and quickly scored on Hideki Matsui's hit, and Monasterios ended up allowing three runs on five hits over four innings.

It was Monasterios' first start of the spring, meaning he was finally facing another club's primary lineup, although he had faced a handful of frontline major leaguers.

In the Dodgers' other game, an 8-4 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers at Maryvale Baseball Park, Clayton Kershaw pitched five strong innings despite a 27-pitch first that was prolonged by poor defense behind him. Russ Ortiz pitched the final five and continued to stake his claim to a spot on the staff, allowing a run on four hits over four innings to shave his Cactus League ERA to 2.08.

Hoffmann returns

The Dodgers reacquired outfielder Jamie Hoffmann, who hit .182 in 14 big-league games for them last summer, and assigned him to minor league camp. The New York Yankees had taken Hoffmann in the Rule 5 draft, but he batted .130 with a .259 on-base percentage in 11 Grapefruit League games this spring, and the Yankees offered him back.

The price of a Rule 5 pick is $50,000, and the team losing the player can get him back for only $25,000 if offered. The $25,000 net gain makes up for the net loss the Dodgers took when they offered reliever Armando Zerpa back to Boston last week.

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.