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Navarro Called Up, Starts Behind Plate

Times Staff Writer

Jason Phillips, so ineffective in throwing out runners this season, put in extra time Friday afternoon working on his defense. When he returned to the clubhouse, he found Dioner Navarro there. When he checked the lineup to see who was catching, he found Navarro there too.

The Dodgers promoted Navarro from triple-A Las Vegas on Friday, and they appear prepared to entrust the critical position to a rookie during the pennant race.

“We’re not bringing him up to play catcher once a week,” General Manager Paul DePodesta said. “Beyond that, I don’t think the script is written.”

The Dodgers also designated pitcher Scott Erickson for assignment, promoted reliever Jonathan Broxton from double-A Jacksonville and optioned catcher Mike Rose to Las Vegas.

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Phillips, who started at first base Thursday and Friday, is hitting .237 and has thrown out 12 of 82 runners. The move comes two days after Cincinnati’s Ryan Freel stole five bases against the Dodgers, including one on a pitchout that put him into position to score the winning run.

Navarro, 21, was hitting .266 at Las Vegas, with 38 walks and 24 strikeouts. He had thrown out 22 of 64 runners.

“I don’t want him to ... feel like, offensively, if I don’t do this or don’t do that, Jim’s going to sit here the next day and worry about whether he should put me in there,” Manager Jim Tracy said.

Tracy said it was “not at all” the case that Phillips would no longer catch. Phillips declined to comment, saying Tracy had not yet spoken with him about playing time.

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The Dodgers cut Erickson after an uncomfortable 10-week exile to the bullpen.

“I’m surprised it took this long,” he said.

He won a spot in the starting rotation in spring training but lost it in May and had pitched sparingly in relief, including two appearances in the previous 22 days. He had a 7.22 earned-run average in eight starts and a 3.24 ERA in 11 relief outings, but he put little stock in those statistics.

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“I was pitching in basically meaningless games, so it’s kind of indifferent to me,” he said. “It’s like, oh good, I had one shutout inning in a 7-0 loss. Big deal. It’s a whole different scenario when you’re pitching the eighth inning of a 3-2 game as opposed to the ninth inning of a 7-0 game. I don’t think I’ve got a true test of me relieving.”

Erickson, 37, a career starter, said the Dodgers had offered him a spot in the rotation at Las Vegas, with the likelihood of a September call-up. If he clears waivers, he said, he would be “more than willing” to accept the offer.


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