Dodgers recall Paco Rodriguez from Triple-A Albuquerque.

Paco Rodriguez mugshotST. LOUIS>>The Dodgers recalled left-handed reliever Paco Rodriguez from Triple-A Albuquerque in advance of tonight’s game against the Cardinals.

Rodriguez was 2-3 with one save and a 4.56 earned-run average (13 ER in 25 ⅔ innings) in 29 appearances with the Isotopes this year, limiting opponents to a .242 batting average with 34 strikeouts and 14 walks. He made the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster and allowed five runs in seven innings (6.43 ERA) in 10 appearances during two previous major-league stints this season.

The 23-year-old left-hander made 78 appearances last season between the regular season and the playoffs. He has a 3-5 career record with two saves and a 2.65 ERA in 97 big-league games.

Rodriguez takes the roster spot vacated when Pedro Baez was optioned to Triple-A just before the All-Star break. He joins J.P. Howell as the only left-handers in the Dodgers’ bullpen.

Hyun-Jin Ryu (shoulder inflammation) hits disabled list; Stephen Fife likely to start Sunday.

Hyun-Jin Ryu

Hyun-Jin Ryu is 3-2 with a 3.00 earned-run average in seven starts this season for the Dodgers. (Sarah Reingewirtz/Staff photographer)

The Dodgers are without a starting pitcher Sunday after placing left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu on the 15-day disabled list with shoulder inflammation.

Manager Don Mattingly told reporters in Miami that the injury isn’t considered serious and no MRI has been scheduled for Ryu. The DL stint is retroactive to April 28 and Ryu so if Ryu misses only the minimum 15 days, he’ll be eligible to return May 13.

The Dodgers’ schedule offers no favors: The team has no off-days between now and May 13. Who will start Sunday?
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Paco Rodriguez returns to the Dodgers, if only for a day. Updates.

Paco Rodriguez mugshotPaco Rodriguez is returning to the Dodgers.

The left-handed reliever was recalled from the Albuquerque Isotopes on Tuesday, according to a release issued by the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate. The Minnesota Twins are hosting the Dodgers tomorrow; today’s game was postponed due to inclement weather in Minneapolis and the teams will play a day-night doubleheader Thursday.

The Dodgers haven’t issued an announcement or a corresponding roster move, probably because there isn’t one. Major-league teams are allowed to carry 26 players on their 25-man roster for a doubleheader — but only in the case of day-night doubleheaders that have been scheduled 24 hours in advance. The rule went into effect with the most recent collective bargaining agreement, which was enacted in 2012.

Since this doubleheader fits the bill, Rodriguez might only be with the team Thursday before he heads back to Albuquerque.

Rodriguez allowed two runs in eight appearances spanning 5 ⅔ innings with the Dodgers. He pitched three scoreless innings at Albuquerque.

Update (5:36 p.m.): According to the minor league transactions page, Carlos Triunfel has been optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque. Triunfel’s trifle of a major-league recall lasted less than 48 hours.

Update 2 (7:30 p.m.): The Dodgers officially announced that Rodriguez has been recalled and Carlos Triunfel has been optioned to Albuquerque.

Chicago Cubs 5, Dodgers 4: Another Dodgers pitcher has another nagging injury.

Josh Beckett

Josh Beckett threw three shutout innings against the Chicago Cubs before leaving with a right thumb contusion. (Associated Press photo)


MESA, Ariz. — Josh Beckett was hoping for more out of his third Cactus League start than three innings and 44 pitches.

Because of a right thumb contusion that worsened as the game went on, Beckett was pulled Friday against the Chicago Cubs before reaching his four-inning, 65-pitch target. The veteran right-hander was already staying away from throwing curveballs, the pitch that gave him the most discomfort, before head athletic trainer Stan Conte and manager Don Mattingly decided to pull him altogether.

Beckett doesn’t think the injury is serious but said he’ll visit a doctor next week if needed.

“It’s frustrating but it could have happened at a worse time,” he said. “I think right now we’re dealing with it the best we can. If I need a couple days off, we’ll do that. I just don’t want to fall too far behind.”

The injury isn’t related to the right thumb ligament that bothered Beckett in Boston early in the 2012 season with Boston. That injury affected the inside of his right thumb; this one affects the outside, he said.

Eleven days ago, Beckett’s right thumb “got slammed on the outside of a door,” he said. “Somebody was opening the door and — you know how they have signs that say ‘in’ and ‘out’? Somebody came out the in.”

In spite of the injury, Beckett’s fastball and changeup were effective against the Cubs. He allowed one hit, an infield single by Emilio Bonifacio, walked two and struck out one in three scoreless innings.

Beckett and right-hander Zack Greinke have both been ruled out from making the trip next week to Sydney, Australia, leaving the Dodgers with four healthy starters — Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dan Haren and Paul Maholm — one week before the beginning of the regular season.

Fortunately, the schedule will allow the Dodgers to can get with on four starters until mid-April. Beckett shouldn’t need that long.

“It’s not getting worse but it’s not getting better,” he said. “I’m just going to evaluate, maybe see a doctor again next week.”

After Beckett and Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks were pulled with the score tied 0-0, both offenses came awake against the bullpens. Jamey Wright (four runs allowed in the sixth inning) and Javy Guerra (walk, single, RBI groundout in the fourth) allowed all the Cubs’ runs.

The Dodgers (5-9-4) clawed back to make the game close. Miguel Rojas doubled and scored on an RBI triple by Dee Gordon in the fifth inning. Alex Guerrero hit a two-run double off Jose Veras in the seventh inning. Drew Butera hit a solo home run to center field off Alberto Cabrera in the ninth inning to provide the final score.

The box score is here.

Some more notes and observations:
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Daily Distractions: Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks won’t have expanded instant replay in Sydney. That’s OK.

Sydney Cricket Ground baseball

A construction crane works on the area around the right field foul pole at the Sydney Cricket Ground. (John Blundell’s Twitter account)

The Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks won’t have expanded instant replay available to them for their season-opening games at Sydney Cricket Ground on March 22 and 23.

From the Associated Press:

The technology that MLB will use at other games during the regular season won’t be in place for the opener. Standard replay will be available in Australia for disputed home run and boundary calls under the format in place since 2008.

That could be a good thing.

There have been a few concrete takeaways from the use of instant replay so far in Cactus League. One is that the managers and umpires truly need time to practice. Learning what calls can be challenged by a manager, what calls can be challenged by an umpire — and when — hasn’t happened overnight.

Another is that some stadium camera angles suck.

Take this incident from yesterday’s game between the Angels and Cincinnati Reds:

(Angels catcher) Hank Conger was called safe at second base trying to stretch an RBI single into a double in the fifth inning. Reds manager Bryan Price challenged the call made by umpire Jim Reynolds. A television replay showed that Conger was tagged out, but the call was upheld by umpire Gerry Davis, who was monitoring replays from a truck in the parking lot.

Randy Marsh, MLB’s director of umpires, said that the television replay wasn’t available to Davis during the 2-minute, 15-second review. Only four in-house camera angles at Tempe Diablo Stadium were available, and none conclusively showed Conger being tagged out.

Davis saw the television replay after the call was upheld.

“It was an umpires’ nightmare,” Marsh said.

Price lost his only manager’s challenge of the game because of the decision to uphold the call.

Here’s a relevant question for the two games in Sydney: What’s worse, relying on the umpires to get the call right like baseball has for 125 years, or relying on less-than-conclusive camera angles just because the rules say you can?

Some bullet points for a Middle Name Pride Day:
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Dodgers’ second intrasquad game is in the books; pitchers take the spotlight.

Chris Reed and Dan Haren threw two shutout innings, and the Dodgers’ second spring intrasquad game in as many days ended in a 0-0 tie. Paco Rodriguez and Jamey Wright each threw one inning to complete three-inning scrimmage.

Reed allowed a line-drive single to Joc Pederson on his second pitch, then got the better of Carl Crawford and Yasiel Puig to end the inning. Crawford was jammed on a four-seam fastball and grounded into a 4-6-3 double play, ably turned by Dee Gordon to Chone Figgins to Adrian Gonzalez. Puig struck out swinging on a changeup. “It’s my out pitch,” the left-hander said.

In the second inning, Reed struck out Scott Van Slyke then got A.J. Ellis to fly out in shallow right field. The 23-year-old from Reseda has never pitched above Double-A, but wasn’t ready to bask in his modest achievements.

“I got a taste of it last year in split-squad games,” Reed said, “but anytime you’re out there for the first time in spring it’s big.”

Reed believes he still has some fine-tuning to achieve by the end of spring and is glad he’ll have time to do it.

Haren said the same thing.

“I felt pretty smooth in my mechanics,” Haren said. “The second inning was definitely harder, just because of the sitting down and getting up. That’s the first time I’ve done that. That was a little tough to get used to, but it was good to have that coming into the first (Cactus League) game.”

Some more notes:
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Dodgers pitcher Paco Rodriguez wants to see Mark Mulder pitch again.

Paco Rodriguez

Paco Rodriguez and would still like to see Mark Mulder come back. (Sarah Reingewirtz/Staff photographer)

The story is by now well-told. Retired pitcher Mark Mulder was at home, watching Paco Rodriguez pitching for the Dodgers late last year. He tried copying Rodriguez’s delivery and found it worked for him.

Mulder decided he would try to come back after a seven-year layoff. He worked out over the winter, tried out for a few clubs, and got a minor-league contract from the Angels.

Rodriguez’s reaction?

“My buddies texted me about it, then I saw the article,” he said. “It would’ve been a great story if he was able to come back. I helped create it, I guess. It would have been a great story.”

The story took a grisly turn when Mulder ruptured his left Achilles’ tendon on the first day of camp last week, effectively ending his season.

Is Mulder’s career over — again? Rodriguez hopes not.

“I do hope he does try to come back, to give it a shot and try to compete again,” Rodriguez said. “I saw him when he was with the A’s. Between him, Barry Zito and Tim Hudson it was impressive.”

Daily Distractions: Mark Ellis: ‘I have no hard feelings toward the Dodgers.’

Mark Ellis

Mark Ellis signed a one-year, $5.25 million contract with the St. Louis Cardinals on Dec. 16. (Associated Press photo)

The Dodgers are still looking for a veteran infielder who can play second base with 13 days to go until pitchers and catchers report to spring training. Michael Young said his preferred destination is Los Angeles — if he doesn’t retire — and Young seems to be the Dodgers’ top choice for the job as well. Here’s my story from last night.

If Young chooses to retire, the Dodgers have a pair of veteran options in Chone Figgins and Brendan Harris who will attend spring training as non-roster invitees. Of course, the Dodgers wouldn’t be in this position if Nick Punto and Skip Schumaker hadn’t spurned the Dodgers in free agency to sign with Oakland and Cincinnati, respectively.

You might as well throw Mark Ellis into that group as well. He seemed destined to land a starting gig somewhere after a productive 2013 campaign at the plate and in the field. When the Dodgers signed 28-year-old Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero to a four-year contract, Ellis’ best opportunity to start no longer resided in Los Angeles.

Yet after the Dodgers declined his $5.75 million option, Ellis signed a one-year contract with St. Louis for $5.25 million. The Cardinals, like the Dodgers, already have a second baseman of the future (Kolten Wong) who has a chance to be the Opening Day starter in 2014. It’s far from certain that Ellis will be able to extend his streak of nine straight seasons with at least 100 starts at second base in St. Louis.

Ellis was willing to accept that uncertainty with the Cardinals. Why didn’t it work out with the Dodgers?

“Things happened,” he said Sunday in Anaheim. “It wasn’t a hard decision for me. I’ll leave it at that.”

Ellis said the Dodgers offered him a one-year contract. So did the Cardinals, but “it wasn’t hard to choose one offer from the other” and “role had nothing to do with anything,” he said. In other words, the decision was based on money.

Even if the Dodgers’ monetary offer could have been considered an insult, Ellis would never say so. He’s not that type of person. For what it’s worth: Ellis didn’t consider the offer an insult.

“I have no hard feelings toward the Dodgers,” he said.

Some bullet points for an International Holocaust Remembrance Day:
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Reports: Dodgers to re-sign J.P. Howell for two years, $11.25 million, plus option.

J.P. HowellJ.P. Howell will return to the Dodgers for at least two years, according to multiple reports Monday, with the two sides compromising on a third-year option that would pay Howell more than any left-handed reliever on the market this year.

The contract reportedly guarantees Howell $11.25 million through 2015. The third-year option, worth $6.25 million, vests if he makes 120 appearances over the next two seasons. It’s a realistic benchmark for Howell, who appeared in 67 games in 2013, going 4-1 with a 2.18 earned-run average.

In total, the 30-year-old has the potential to earn $17.5 million over the life of the contract – $1 million more than the Rockies gave lefty specialist Boone Logan over the next three years.

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