Schlichting's stay could be short
CINCINNATI -- Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre conceded before Wednesday night's game with the Cincinnati Reds that reliever Travis Schlichting's latest big league callup -- he was recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque to fill the roster spot of right-hander Chad Billingsley, who went onto the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with a left-groin strain -- is likely to be about as short as the first one.
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Schlichting was recalled May 30, made one appearance in which he pitched four shutout innings and earned a victory in a 14-inning win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on June 2, then was sent back to Albuquerque on June 3 because the Dodgers needed a roster spot.
The Dodgers will need another roster spot Saturday when veteran right-hander Vicente Padilla is expected to return from the disabled list and start that day's game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
"It's probably only until Padilla comes back unless something unforeseen happens between now and Saturday morning," Torre said. "But this is good experience for him. It's a chance to come to the big leagues and just sort of taste it once in a while. That way, when you do get to come for a [longer] period of time, that initial stuff is out of the way."
When Schlichting was sent out the first time, he said he was fully prepared for the demotion because he knew the Dodgers needed a roster spot and that as a guy who still had minor league options, he was the easiest player to send down.
Schlichting has a 4.29 ERA in 19 appearances for Albuquerque this season, but he had given up three runs in 4 1/3 innings over three appearances since being sent down.
Torre uncertain about Haeger
Torre said he wasn't sure where the Dodgers will turn next with knuckleballer Charlie Haeger, who is on the 15-day disabled list because of a sprained big toe on his right foot and whose latest rehabilitation start, on Tuesday night for Albuquerque against Omaha, was an unmitigated disaster in which he walked eight batters and gave up six runs in 4 2/3 innings.
"To me, I think he has gotten himself into some bad habits trying to pitch with a bad foot," Torre said. "That sounds like something that isn't that important, but comfort is a big part of it when you're trying to pitch. I'm sure his confidence is rock bottom. Certainly, as far as his rehab has been going, I think we need to do a lot of work."
Torre said he planned to meet with trainer Stan Conte to figure out the next course of action with Haeger.
Team signs Vargas
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The Dodgers have signed veteran right-hander Claudio Vargas, who posted a 1.64 ERA in eight relief appearances for them last season, to a minor league contract and assigned him to Albuquerque, where he will go into the starting rotation. Vargas was released by the Milwaukee Brewers on June 4 after they acquired him from the Dodgers for minor league utility man Vinny Rottino at last year's trading deadline.
"We have seen him in the past, and he is a good guy who works hard and works his tail off," said DeJon Watson, the Dodgers' assistant general manager for player development. "With James [McDonald] being injured, we need a fill-in, and we felt like he was a good fit."
Watson said no promises were made to Vargas about a big league callup. Vargas made 17 relief appearances for the Brewers this season, posting a 7.32 ERA, before his release, but Watson said he will immediately begin building up his innings as a starter.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.