HOUSTON -- The Los Angeles Dodgers purchased the contract of right-hander Rubby De La Rosa, their top pitching prospect, from Double-A Chattanooga before Tuesday night's game against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.
Although he was starting for the Lookouts, he initially will work out of the bullpen for the Dodgers in a variety of roles.
"He has a great feel for pitching, multiple weapons that he brings and a pretty good understanding of what it takes,'' Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said. "We had been thinking about this for a little while, but we really maybe planned on doing it a little more down the road. But with all the injuries we have had, that has really depleted us, especially in the bullpen.''
The Dodgers presently have relievers Jonathan Broxton, Hong-Chih Kuo, Vicente Padilla and Blake Hawksworth all on the disabled list, with Hawksworth tentatively slated to return on Friday. Additionally, veteran reliever Lance Cormier, who was designated for assignment to clear a spot on both the 25- and 40-man rosters for De La Rosa, had a 9.88 ERA and had been used only five times in the past five weeks.
De La Rosa, 22, is the organization's reigning minor league pitcher of the year after going a combined 7-2 with a 2.37 ERA at low Class A Great Lakes and Double-A Chattanooga. He is 2-2 with a 2.93 ERA in eight starts for the Lookouts this year, with 52 strikeouts in 40 innings. As part of a predetermined strategy, he pitched just two innings in his most recent start on Sunday at Carolina, allowing no runs on one hit, then was lifted.
The plan at that time was to have him skip a start or two, something the Dodgers routinely do with their top pitching prospects at various times during the season to keep their arms from being overworked. Now that he is in the majors, though, he essentially will be used like any other reliever.
"Obviously, we're going to treat him like everybody else,'' Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "You're not going to abuse a guy like this, but really, we try not to abuse anyone. We'll try to protect him. We try to protect all of our guys, but especially a young guy coming up. We'll try to get him clean innings, where he comes in to start an inning and doesn't have to come in [when the team is] in trouble.''
Mattingly said because De La Rosa has built up his innings as a starter, he could be used in long relief if a starter gets into trouble early. He also said De La Rosa could even be used to close if he were needed.
Mattingly told Cormier at the team hotel that he was being designated. The Dodgers have 10 days to either trade, release or outright Cormier, but he must clear waivers before any of those things can happen, and even then Cormier has the right to reject an outright assignment to the minor leagues and become a free agent. Colletti said he hopes Cormier clears and is willing to accept an assignment.
"Obviously, that is his call,'' Colletti said. "But we would like to keep him.''
Any team claiming Cormier off waivers would pick up all of what is left of his $800,000 salary. If he clears waivers and becomes a free agent, the Dodgers still would be on the hook for that money, minus a prorated share of the major league minimum $414,000 for which the signing team would be responsible.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.