He had not started a major league game in almost two years. And, as two of the first four batters hit home runs — the ugly start to a dramatic 6-5 victory over the
The Dodgers overcame his start by scoring twice in the ninth inning, with Howie Kendrick delivering a walk-off single to drive home the tying and winning runs.
The answer to why Huff started was a combination of injury, circumstance and obscure baseball rules. But the moral of the story, and the response to all those snickers from around the country: Even a team with a world-record $270-million payroll has its limits.
Sometimes the Dodgers apply the limits, no matter how amusing that thought might be to fans of the other major league teams. But sometimes players apply the limits too.
On Tuesday, Huff filled the role of the Dodgers' No. 6 starter, that is, a substitute for an injured or ineffective pitcher. The Dodgers can throw all the Guggenheim cash they want at a potential No. 6 pitcher, but any pitcher worth all that much cash would have no interest in being an understudy, Dodgers General Manager Farhan Zaidi said.
"You can't have a sixth starter making eight figures," Zaidi said. "Those guys won't sign with you if you don't have a rotation spot essentially guaranteed for them.
"It's up to the organization to develop its own depth. That's what we're doing."
The Dodgers could have kept Wieland, Bolsinger, Frias or Lee as a long reliever to start the season, but they optioned them to triple A, forcing them to stay there at least 10 days before a recall. Instead, the Dodgers gave their last opening-day roster spot to utility infielder
So Huff got the start Tuesday, giving up four runs in four innings, including consecutive home runs to
Ryu is not expected to return before late May. The Dodgers next need a fifth starter April 25, and by then the Dodgers can consider all the triple-A arms they were restricted from using Tuesday.
They also could consider Baker, who has a 1.80 earned-run average in two triple-A starts. "Next time we need a fifth starter, we'll have a few options," Zaidi said.
The Dodgers hit two home runs Tuesday, one apiece by outfielder
Those are the kinds of numbers that make the Dodgers a natural target around the league, but Zaidi said he was not sure that was true and would not care if it were.
"The expectations that really matter to me are the expectations of our fan base," he said. "With what they have grown accustomed to, their expectations are high. Those are the expectations we're concerned with. We want to meet or even exceed those expectations."