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With Vicente Padilla Close To Returning, Might The Dodgers Go To A Six-Man Bullpen?

The Dodgers have been no stranger to the disabled list this season, as 13 different players have been placed on the DL this season. Five members of the bullpen are currently on the disabled list, including Vicente Padilla, who is on a rehab assignment with the Class A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. Padilla threw two scoreless innings tonight in his second rehab game, and appears likely to rejoin the Dodgers when they begin their road trip in Cincinnati this weekend.

The way Padilla was used during the rehab assignment has me wondering just what the Dodgers' roster plans are going forward. Padilla threw two innings tonight, and threw two innings Monday night. The bullpen also features top prospect Rubby De La Rosa, a future starter who will also pitch multiple innings out of the bullpen whenever possible. With a pair of multi-inning relievers at his disposal, might the Dodgers elect to only use a six-man bullpen?

The Dodgers have had a seven-man bullpen all season, but reducing to six relievers would give the Dodgers more room on the bench, which is what they might need soon. Infielder Juan Uribe and outfielder / pinch hitter Marcus Thames are also due back as soon as this weekend, and the spots on the bench are few and far between. Juan Castro is the likely candidate to go when Uribe returns to the starting lineup, with Jamey Carroll shifting to more of a reserve role. The Dodger bench could soon be:

  • Dioner Navarro, catcher (switch-hitter)
  • Carroll, infielder (R)
  • Aaron Miles, infielder (S)
  • Tony Gwynn Jr., outfielder (L)
  • Thames, outfielder (R)
  • Jay Gibbons, outfielder (L)

This is assuming rookie Jerry Sands continues to get at least semi-regular playing time in left field with some first base mixed in. Carrying seven relievers would mean one of the outfielders has to go when Thames comes back, and since Sands has options he would likely be the odd man out, as Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness outlined on Tuesday.

However, manager Don Mattingly is fond of Sands, and it's not exactly clear that Sands will be optioned so soon. Sands has started three of the last four games against right-handed pitchers. Whatever the Dodgers decide, we will likely know by the end of the weekend.

For more news and information on the Dodgers, be sure to read the SB Nation blog True Blue LA.