DENVER -- Even before Carlos Monasterios threw a single pitch against the Colorado Rockies on Friday night, the Los Angeles Dodgers' brain trust had decided the rookie right-hander wouldn't be a fixture in the fifth spot in the starting rotation.
Manager Joe Torre hinted strongly before the game that the next time the spot comes up, either Tuesday night or Wednesday against Arizona, it will once again belong to the man it originally belonged to when the season began.
That would be knuckleballer Charlie Haeger -- he of the 0-4 record and 8.49 ERA.
Haeger has pitched well on his minor league rehabilitation assignment at high Single-A Inland Empire, where he has worked closely with 66ers pitching coach and longtime big league knuckleballer Charlie Hough, who tweaked Haeger's mechanics almost immediately. Haeger will go into Saturday's start at Bakersfield 2-1 with a 2.81 ERA in three starts, having given up 11 hits in 16 innings and having walked just eight batters.
However, even Haeger figures to be holding down the spot temporarily until Vicente Padilla returns from the 15-day disabled list, probably around the middle of June.
Haeger was put on the 15-day DL, officially with plantar fasciitis, on May 9, the day after he was bombed for five runs while failing to record an out against the Rockies.
Green designated for assignment
To the surprise of no one, the Dodgers designated little-used utility infielder Nick Green for assignment just before game time to clear a roster spot for reliever Scott Elbert, who received what is expected to be a short-lived promotion from Triple-A Albuquerque.
Green had appeared in only five games for the Dodgers since having his contract purchased from Albuquerque on May 4, and he had gone one for eight at the plate.
Elbert, the Dodgers' first-round draft pick in 2004, had a 5.40 ERA in eight starts at Albuquerque, but he was serviceable in his past three, giving up only four earned runs in 16 1/3 innings -- although he did walk 11 batters in those games. Torre said Elbert is not a candidate for the rotation and that he was called up to give the Dodgers a second lefty in the bullpen, to go with Hong-Chih Kuo, while George Sherrill is on the disabled list.
However, Elbert probably will be going right back as soon as Haeger is activated from the DL next week.
Torre concurs with Blake on Lilly
Torre said he happened to see a television clip showing Chicago Cubs pitcher Ted Lilly clearly standing in front, and off to the third base side, of the rubber during the Cubs' 1-0 victory over the Dodgers on Thursday.
Dodgers third baseman Casey Blake had complained to first base umpire John Hirschbeck that Lilly wasn't in contact with the rubber when he delivered the ball, but Hirschbeck couldn't see it from where he was standing.
"I guess he was about like this," Torre said, holding his hands about six inches apart. "I just had a quick glimpse. I happened to look up, and they showed it."
Torre said he had no plans to alert the league office of the matter, but he figured the league office would be made aware of it pretty quickly anyway.
"I'm sure Major League Baseball watches all those shows too," Torre said.
Torre also seemed skeptical when told of Lilly's explanation. The veteran left-hander, who pitched for the New York Yankees under Torre in 2000 and 2001, didn't exactly deny he had been off the rubber but said that if he was, it had been an inadvertent mistake.
"I like Teddy," Torre said. "He played for me. But inadvertent? I don't know. I just saw the one thing on TV."
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.