Mike Bolsinger is improving, but no answers yet about who the Dodgers’ fifth starter is.

Mike Bolsinger

Dodgers pitcher Mike Bolsinger is recovering from a strained oblique muscle. (Getty Images)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — First things first. The Dodgers will need a fifth starter once in their first 17 games, April 8 in San Francisco. When I write, and you talk, about the race to be the Dodgers’ fifth starter, what we all really mean is the race to face the Giants on April 8.

So, who’s leading that race?

Among the healthy pitchers the Dodgers are considering, Carlos Frias and Zach Lee are out front. Brandon Beachy, who is resting a sore right elbow, and Mike Bolsinger, who is recovering from a strained oblique muscle, could also jump in the mix depending on how quickly they recover from their injuries.

That’s where we stand on March 21, two weeks from Opening Day.

Of course, much can change in 24 hours. Beachy and Bolsinger were the front-runners for the April 8 start when the weekend began, before their injuries hit. Lee was optioned to Triple-A, but now is a candidate to return. He might start one of two split-squad games this Saturday.

Manager Dave Roberts ruled out veteran starter-turned-reliever Joe Blanton as a candidate to start.

Beachy wasn’t in the Dodgers’ clubhouse Monday morning. Bolsinger was, and he held out hope that this injury won’t derail his chances of making the Opening Day roster.

“This is the first year I’ve gone over four innings in spring training,” he said. “Once you start getting past two, two and a half weeks (of rest) you worry.”

Roberts sounded more conservative, noting that the timetable for recovery from oblique strains sometimes lasts two weeks to a month.

“Depending on the severity, they could take even longer than that,” he said. “That’s why for Mike to come in today and say it feels a lot better is encouraging, but even with that said we’re not going to have him pick up a baseball today.”

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About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Orange County Register, Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.