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Dodgers' Chris Hatcher returns from paternity leave; Austin Barnes sent to minors

Dodgers' Chris Hatcher returns from paternity leave; Austin Barnes sent to minors
Dodgers reliever Chris Hatcher had a 5.53 earned-run average during an injury-shortened 2016 season. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

The Dodgers bolstered their bullpen but thinned their bench before Friday's game against the Giants. To make room for reliever Chris Hatcher's return from paternity leave, the team optioned rookie catcher Austin Barnes to triple-A Oklahoma City.

In essence, the Dodgers chose carrying eight relievers over carrying three catchers. The team added left-handed reliever Adam Liberatore on Thursday as Hatcher's wife gave birth. With Hatcher back Friday, Barnes headed to the minors.

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He had started the night before at second base, part of the team's attempt to capitalize on his versatility. Barnes hit .133 in six games with no extra-base hits.

"He's a nice young player," Roberts said. "It's just hard to get him at-bats."

Most teams use a seven-man bullpen. Roberts suggested the Dodgers could carry eight relievers for at least the next two series. The team now has two left-handed options in Liberatore and J.P. Howell to face left-handed hitters this weekend like Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik.

The Dodgers probably will reconfigure the roster within a two-week period. Carl Crawford (lower back irritation) and Scott Van Slyke (lower back irritation) are expected to come off the disabled list after the minimum 15-day assignment.

Follow Andy McCullough on Twitter: @McCulloughTimes

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