Dodgers bullpen might not include Saito

Times Staff Writers

PHILADELPHIA -- Speaking of how suddenly everything changed for him, Takashi Saito laughed.

“I didn’t expect this,” he said.

Saito went into Manager Joe Torre’s office Wednesday afternoon thinking he could be closing for the Dodgers in the National League Championship Series. He came out of the meeting with Torre, General Manager Ned Colletti and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt thinking he wouldn’t even be on the 25-man roster.

“There’s probably a good chance of that happening,” he said.


Torre made no promises to the 38-year-old former All-Star, asking him to throw a post-workout bullpen session at Citizens Bank Park, then asking him to wait until this morning to learn whether he’ll be part of the Dodgers’ plans for this round of the playoffs.

If Saito is excluded, his roster spot could go to left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo, who has recovered from elbow problems that kept him out of the division series sweep of the Chicago Cubs.

The Dodgers must submit their series roster by 10 a.m. EDT.

Saito sprained an elbow ligament in July and was sidelined for two months. Torre worked him back into the closer’s role over the last two weeks of the regular season and had Honeycutt tell him on the day the playoffs started that the job was his. But he failed to get an out and gave up two runs in Game 2 of the division series.

Jonathan Broxton closed the final game of that series and Torre said he would probably use Broxton again in that role in Philadelphia.

Saito didn’t blame Torre.

“I would never tell the team that I don’t want to be on the roster,” said Saito, who has worked on pitching exclusively out of the stretch to correct balance problems.

“The decision is theirs. If they judge that I can’t help the team in this series, I’m fine with that.”

Even if Saito is not on the roster for the Phillies series, he can be added to the team for the World Series if the Dodgers advance.

Kuo back for NLCS

Kuo felt no pain in his elbow while playing catch Wednesday, which was all the information Torre needed to make a decision on the left-hander’s status.

“It appears we’ll add him to the roster,” Torre said.

Kuo threw 19 pitches in a simulated game Tuesday morning in Los Angeles and had no trouble locating his pitches, according to the coaching staff. He sat out the NL division series and last pitched Sept. 14 in Colorado, his second appearance in the last five weeks, finishing the regular season with a 2.14 earned-run average in 42 games.

East Coast bias

Cole Hamels will start tonight for the Phillies, which would leave him in line to start again in Game 5, if necessary, at Dodger Stadium. But to hear Hamels tell it, no one at that game is likely to be paying attention to what’s happening on the field.

“On the West Coast, I think when I went to the games we arrived at the third inning and left by the eighth,” said Hamels, who attended Rancho Bernardo High in San Diego. “You had to wake up the next morning to see if the team won.

“Also I think the West Coast, it’s more of a business adventure when you take somebody to a game. You’re almost trying to break the next business deal or something and [on] the East Coast it’s everybody wearing jerseys versus a suit and tie.”

Seattle looking at Ng

The Seattle Mariners received permission from the Dodgers to interview Kim Ng, assistant general manager, for their vacant general manager position.

If hired, Ng would be the first female GM in baseball. Ng interviewed for the Dodgers’ GM job in 2005, but was beaten out by Colletti.

Visiting clubhouse ready

The visiting clubhouse at Dodger Stadium will be ready for the Phillies when the series moves to Los Angeles for Game 3 on Sunday.

When the Dodgers completed their first-round sweep of Chicago at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, one of the Cubs broke open a water pipe at the back of the visiting dugout, flooding the walkway leading to the locker room.

A Dodgers spokesperson said the pipe has been repaired and the Cubs have offered to pay for the damages.

Ramirez wants more?

Agent Scott Boras said a Denver newspaper was incorrect in reporting that he “has let it be known through his media outlets” that bidding for free-agent Manny Ramirez will start at five years and $85 million this winter.

“We have never made any statements to anyone” about the contract Ramirez is expected to request, Boras said.

Boras wouldn’t say how much Ramirez would be seeking, but it’s believed he’s looking for a deal worth more than $20 million a year.

In exchange for waiving his no-trade rights to complete his move to the Dodgers in July, Ramirez asked the Boston Red Sox to remove the team options in his contract for 2009 and 2010 that were worth $20 million per season.