LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers designated knuckleballer Charlie Haeger for assignment before Friday night's game with the New York Yankees after it became clear there no longer was a spot for Haeger in the team's starting rotation.
To fill Haeger's roster spot, the club recalled reliever Jon Link from Triple-A Albuquerque.
Haeger's job figured to be in at least some jeopardy next week with right-hander Chad Billingsley due to come off the 15-day disabled list Monday and start that night's game against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. But it wasn't a huge surprise the club went ahead and designated him Friday, less than 24 hours after Haeger himself returned from the disabled list and turned in a serviceable start against the Los Angeles Angels.
Although he didn't stick around long enough to qualify for the win, Haeger gave up four earned runs, five hits and four walks over 4 2/3 innings -- not a great performance by any stretch, but it was good enough to put the Dodgers in position to win on an evening when their offense pounded out 10 runs and 15 hits.
Still, the fact Haeger didn't go very deep into the game -- he needed 102 pitches just to get that far -- was part of the reason the Dodgers were forced to use seven pitchers, which in turn probably was the reason they felt compelled to call up Link on Friday even though Link himself made a 1 1/3-inning relief appearance for Albuquerque on Thursday at Round Rock.
Haeger said he was somewhat surprised, but not entirely surprised, by the move.
"I knew Billingsley was coming off the DL, and they needed to make some kind of move," Haeger said. "I had basically only pitched twice in two months, coming off the DL. Unfortunately, that is just how this game works sometimes."
Haeger's only other appearance since May 8, when he was torched for five runs by the Colorado Rockies and failed to record an out before being yanked five batters into the first inning, came on June 5 -- between his two DL stints -- when he pitched the final two innings of a lopsided loss to the Atlanta Braves and gave up two runs over two innings.
The Dodgers have 10 days to either trade Haeger, release him or outright him to the minor leagues, but he has to clear waivers before they can do any of those things. Because he has never been outrighted -- he was designated for assignment by the Chicago White Sox late in the 2008 season but was claimed off waivers by the San Diego Padres -- he doesn't have the option of rejecting an outright assignment and becoming a free agent, so he likely will remain in the organization.
Link's callup is his third of the season. He has a 4.15 ERA in four big league relief appearances this year and a 4.26 in 24 appearances for Albuquerque.
Minor leaguer suspended
Albuquerque outfielder Prentice Redman this week became the second Dodgers minor leaguer this season to be suspended for 50 games for violating baseball's minor league drug prevention and treatment program after he tested positive for amphetamines.
Although Redman was having an outstanding season, batting .332 with 10 home runs, 41 RBIs and a .402 on-base percentage in 61 games for the Isotopes, his suspension was hardly as shocking as that of Double-A Chattanooga outfielder Andrew Lambo after he tested positive for marijuana earlier this season.
Lambo, 21, was the Dodgers' fourth-round draft choice in 2007 and is one of the organization's top prospects. Redman is a 30-year-old journeyman, a minor league "roster filler" if you will, who was in his first season with the Dodgers after logging time with four other organizations. Redman's only major league time is the 15 games he played for the New York Mets in 2003.
Torre a HOF Yankee
Surrounded by New York reporters before the game, many of whom covered him on a daily basis during his 14-year tenure as the Yankees manager, Dodgers manager Joe Torre said Friday when he eventually goes into the Hall of Fame, his plaque in Cooperstown will bear a likeness of him in a Yankees cap.
"It's going to be the Yankees, no question," Torre said. "They put me on the map. I was a pretty good player, too, but they put me on the map."
Torre, a nine-time All-Star and one-time National League Most Valuable Player as a catcher and corner infielder, didn't make the Hall of Fame for his 18-year playing career. Before being hired by the Yankees before the 1996 season and guiding them to the playoffs in every season he was there, he managed a total of 14 seasons with the New York Mets, Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals, reaching the playoffs only once, with the Braves in 1982.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.