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Malone Has Faith in Current Bullpen

TIMES STAFF WRITER

General Manager Kevin Malone said Monday he would not trade a top pitching prospect for a reliever.

Although the Dodgers lack an experienced left-hander in the bullpen, Malone said he’s comfortable with the pitchers competing to make the 25-man roster, adding “it wouldn’t make any sense” to move a developing prospect.

Malone said Dodger decision-makers are confident in second-year pitcher Onan Masaoka, who might be the only left-handed reliever on the opening-day roster. Malone and Manager Davey Johnson believe the bullpen will be strong, regardless of whether the Dodgers make another move.

“Of course you’d like to have two [left-handers] out [in the bullpen] just to get the matchups you want, but I’m not going to trade one of the young pitchers to get one of those guys,” Malone said. “We have no intention of trading our young starting pitching. Young starters are the name of the game.

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“Yeah, we’d like to get another [left-hander], but everybody wants young arms in return. I want to make this completely clear: We’re not trading our young pitching to get a left-hander.”

Malone pointed to young right-hander Mike Judd and rookie left-hander Jeff Williams, saying both are needed to provide depth for the starting rotation.

And Williams might make the club as a reliever.

Malone has spoken with New York Met General Manager Steve Phillips about several players, among them veteran left-hander Dennis Cook. Reacquiring Cook, who played for the Dodgers in the early ‘90s, would make sense, but the Mets want young pitching prospects in return.

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Cook, 37, will make $1.2 million this season and $1.4 million next season in the final year of a three-year contract. He also is owed $2 million that was deferred from his $3-million signing bonus.

“We have some excess in our [right-handed setup] role,” Johnson said. “So if we’re looking for help in a relief role, and that’s if we need it, that’s the fit for us [to make a trade].”

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Paul LoDuca, competing for the backup catcher’s job, hit a solo home run against Jim Bullinger in Monday’s intrasquad game. . . . Left-hander Carlos Perez and right-hander Darren Dreifort started and each pitched one scoreless inning.

Rookie right-hander Brian Stephenson, godson of Tom Lasorda, gave up three runs and four hits in one inning. Stephenson, acquired in the deal that sent Ismael Valdes and Eric Young to the Chicago Cubs, walked two and struck out one.


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