He got hit in the left side of the head by a pitch from John Maine in the top of the fourth and appeared woozy as trainer Stan Conte led him off the field and up the clubhouse tunnel. David Wells made a passing remark during his introductory media session before Friday’s game about always protecting his teammates, so we’ll see if this turns into something. … Dodgers presently have men on the corners with one out, which means they probably won’t score. Mets 2, Dodgers 1, top 4. … Here’s tomorrow’s notebook, but I warn you there isn’t much there.
By Tony Jackson
NEW YORK — As Mike Lieberthal prepared to make his first start behind the plate in exactly two weeks, Dodgers manager Grady Little dismissed the fact the club was 2-10 when Lieberthal starts and the fact Lieberthal had a 7.02 catcher’s ERA during those starts.
“It doesn’t really mean anything, especially when you catch as little as Mike has this year,” Little said. “When you start talking about his combined stats over that period of time and the very few times he has caught, that would be unfair. You have to look at who was pitching for us and who we were facing in each of those individual games.”
In fairness to Lieberthal, that catcher’s ERA was dramatically inflated by his three previous starts since the All-Star break. Two of those came when the starting pitcher was Mark Hendrickson, who has been outstanding out of the bullpen this year but not so great out of the rotation. In those two games, the opposing clubs scored 27 runs, with Hendrickson giving up a combined 15 earned runs on 22 hits over a total of 5 2/3 innings.
The other Lieberthal start was a typically ineffective performance by Brett Tomko in which he gave up five runs over six innings.
Meanwhile, Little said he still is unconcerned about burning out primary catcher Russell Martin, who is expected to make his 118th start of the season tonight against Washington.
“He certainly isn’t dragging right now, but we will try to catch that before it starts happening,” Little said. “When you play the game as hard as he plays it, if I had played him (Sunday night), and then we had flown all night and I had played him again (tonight), I think we would have seen it right away.”
Pitching plans: Little said that if David Wells had a strong showing in his Dodgers debut on Sunday night against the New York Mets, he likely would start again on Friday night at San Diego, meaning lefty Eric Stults would be at least pushed back and possibly even skipped the next time through the rotation because the Dodgers are off on Thursday.
Stults struggled on Saturday against the Mets. Although he allowed just three runs on five hits, he also walked five batters and didn’t survive the fourth inning. After Thursday, the Dodgers won’t have another off-day until Sept. 10, so they still will need Stults to start at least twice on their upcoming, 10-game road trip.
Trade complete: The Dodgers sent minor-league infielder Travis Denker to San Francisco to complete the Aug. 9 trade in which they acquired Mark Sweeney from the Giants. Denker, the Dodgers’ 21st-round draft pick in 2003, was hitting .294 with 27 doubles, 10 home runs and 57 RBI for Inland Empire. But he was in his third season at advanced Single-A and wasn’t considered among the organization’s top prospects.
Also: Dodgers center fielder Juan Pierre extended his hitting streak to 14 games with an RBI triple in the third inning. He is one short of the 15-game streak shortstop Rafael Furcal had in May, the longest hitting streak by a Dodgers player this season. … Wells, 44, became the Dodgers’ oldest starting pitcher since the club moved to Los Angeles in 1958. The previous mark was held by Don Sutton, who was 43 years, 129 days old when he last started for the club on Aug. 9, 1988. Wells is the sixth pitcher to start a game for the L.A. Dodgers after turning 40, joining Sutton, Greg Maddux, Orel Hershiser and Tom Candiotti.