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Relief Map Is Clearer to Dodgers

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Again overcoming prospect limitations, the Dodgers moved to bolster their bullpen Tuesday in acquiring left-hander Terry Mulholland from the Pittsburgh Pirates and right-hander Mike Trombley from the Baltimore Orioles at minimal expense.

The National League West leaders--outbid for pitchers Dave Weathers and Mike Williams--obtained the veteran relievers while keeping their top minor leaguers, achieving a two-pronged objective before the 1 p.m. PDT non-waiver trading deadline.

The Dodgers sent struggling middle reliever Mike Fetters and minor league left-hander Adrian Burnside to the Pirates for Mulholland, then got Trombley from the Orioles for right-handed prospect Kris Foster and triple-A catcher Geronimo Gil.

Trombley, 34, is expected to provide help for overworked setup man Matt Herges, and the Dodgers envision Mulholland, 38, filling many roles during their two-month playoff push.

Interim General Manager Dave Wallace and Dan Evans, interim assistant general manager, accomplished their final trading goals after acquiring starter James Baldwin last Thursday from the Chicago White Sox for two pitching prospects and a journeyman minor league outfielder.

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Trading can occur until postseason rosters are set Aug. 31, but players must clear waivers after Tuesday, meaning the roster is probably set.

Now, the Dodgers play the waiting game, Wallace said.

“Time will tell,” Wallace said of the potential impact of the three pitching trades. “The other factor is you lost a guy like Mike Fetters, who has great character and is a big part of this clubhouse. But in the research we’ve done about the guys we’re acquiring, they, as well, bring character to the clubhouse.”

Mulholland, with the Pirates in San Francisco, and Trombley, traveling from Baltimore, are expected to report today.

One of the pitchers will fill the 25-man roster spot vacated by Fetters, and the Dodgers might designate reliever Al Reyes for assignment to make room for the other.

Mulholland, a 13-year veteran, provides October experience, having pitched in four postseasons--including the last three.

The Pittsburgh native returned home in the off-season, signing a two-year, $6-million contract.

Mulholland has a salary of $2.5 million this season, and is owed $3 million in 2002.

He did not have a decision in 22 games, one start, with a 3.72 earned-run average. In his career, Mulholland is 112-124.

“I get traded to L.A. and I’m in first place,” said Mulholland, on the disabled list because of a broken left index finger. “That’s pretty good.”

Trombley appeared in 50 games for the Orioles, going 3-4 with a 3.46 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 54 innings.

Opponents are batting .200 against the seven-year veteran, who established an Oriole franchise mark with 75 appearances in 2000.

Trombley has about $900,000 remaining on a $2-million salary this season. He is under contract for $2 million in 2002, and has a $3-million 2003 option, which can be bought out for $250,000.

“I wasn’t shocked, I was surprised,” said Trombley, 37-42 with a 4.06 ERA in his career. “But I’m excited. They’re a good team and I enjoy watching them.”

Fetters, 36, was demoted from the setup role in the first-year of a two-year, $4.25-million contract.

The right-hander, 2-1 with a 6.07 ERA and one save in 29 2/3 innings, expressed disappointment about the trade.

“I was playing where I always wanted to play, had a chance to go to the playoffs for the first time in my career and they took that all away from me,” said Fetters, who has the right to force another trade after the season.

“I’m very, very upset and I didn’t want this to happen in my wildest dreams. I always did my best out there, it might not have always been good enough, but I always gave 100% and I wanted to stay.”

Burnside, 24, was 4-3 with a 2.66 ERA in 13 games, 12 starts, for double-A Jacksonville. The left-hander had arthroscopic surgery on his pitching elbow last season.

Foster, 26, pitched for Jacksonville and triple-A Las Vegas this season. His fastball has been consistently clocked at 96 mph. He was 3-1 with 19 saves and a 2.54 ERA overall, but has experienced arm problems.

Gil, 25, batted .295 in 82 games for Las Vegas.

“The front office did a tremendous job,” right fielder Shawn Green said. “Our bullpen is going to be stronger than it was. Adding a solid lefty like Mulholland and a veteran setup-type guy in Trombley . . . our bullpen definitely has been bolstered tremendously.”

Closer Jeff Shaw said Wallace provided what the Dodgers needed.

“I wouldn’t say that we were lacking in those areas they addressed, I would just say we were a little short,” Shaw said. “Picking up those two guys--especially Mulholland because he can start, set up, close, whatever--it just helps the whole staff. They’re also good guys, and I think that’s what [Wallace] is looking for.”

Said Manager Jim Tracy: “They’ve given us two more chips to play with. They’ve made our team better.”

Evans, the point man in Dodger trade talks, was not deterred after the Milwaukee Brewers rebuffed his attempts to acquire setup man Weathers, sending him to the Chicago Cubs on Monday, and the Pirates traded closer Williams to the Houston Astros in another deal Tuesday.

The Dodgers were determined to escalate the West arms race after the second-place Arizona Diamondbacks and third-place San Francisco Giants also made pitching moves, but not at any cost.

They retained No. 1 pitching prospect Ben Diggins, rejecting several proposals involving the 6-foot-7 right-hander, and other talented lower-level position players in a farm system being rebuilt after a decade of weak drafts and questionable trades.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

TUESDAY’S ACQUISITIONS

TERRY MULHOLLAND

Left-handed pitcher Age: 38

Fifteen-year veteran is pitching for his eighth team. He was 0-0 with a 3.72 ERA for the Pittsburgh Pirates this season and is 112-124 with a 4.28 ERA in his career. Mulholland has made 308 starts in his career and was primarily a starter until 1998.

*

MIKE TROMBLEY

Right-handed pitcher Age: 34

Primary setup man for the Baltimore Orioles with a 3.46 ERA and six saves in 50 games. Opponents are batting only .200 against Trombley this season. He is 37-42 with a 4.36 ERA and 44 saves in his career. Trombley, like Mulholland, is signed through the 2002 season.


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