Dodgers demote John Ely

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Los Angeles Dodgers optioned right-hander John Ely to Triple-A Albuquerque before Monday night's game against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park, a move that clears the way for veteran Jon Garland to be activated from the 15-day disabled list in time to start on Friday night against the St. Louis Cardinals.

For now, though, that roster spot will be held down by Jamie Hoffmann, who was recalled from Albuquerque and gives the Dodgers six outfielders on the active roster plus a seventh, Jay Gibbons, on the 15-day disabled list.

Ely's demotion wasn't surprising given that he didn't pitch particularly well and struggled with his command in what was probably always going to be a one-time spot start anyway against the San Diego Padres on Sunday, the day he was recalled from Albuquerque. That was the same day Garland, despite his stated preference to come off the DL and make his season debut for the Dodgers, threw 81 pitches in a minor league rehabilitation start for advanced Class A Rancho Cucamonga at Inland Empire and felt no ill effects from the strained oblique muscle he suffered during spring training.

Garland allowed three runs on six hits over 4 2/3 innings.

"I would have liked to have gotten more outs, but it's baseball," said Garland, who threw 10 additional pitches in the bullpen after leaving the game. "It feels exactly how it would if I had come here and pitched in a game. [Sunday] night, I was home packing and doing some laundry to come here, and I started getting that achy, tired feeling that you always get after a start. I thought, well, here it is."

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly did confirm that Garland will start against the Cardinals on Friday night in Los Angeles.

Ely gave up four earned runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings against the Padres, taking the loss, and seemed to struggle with his command. Once noted for his ability to pound the strike zone, he fell behind in the count to several hitters early in the game and wound up walking three of them.

Hoffmann, who played in 14 games for the Dodgers in 2009, was hitting .455 (5-for-11) with a .538 on-base percentage in four games for Albuquerque this season. He would figure to be the most likely player to return to the minors when Garland is ready to be activated.

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.