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Dodgers add depth as veteran pitcher Brandon Morrow accepts minor league assignment

Dodgers add depth as veteran pitcher Brandon Morrow accepts minor league assignment
Brandon Morrow pitches for the Dodgers during an exhibition game against Milwaukee on Feb. 26. (Morry Gash / AP)

The Dodgers offered a hint at the composition of their opening-day bullpen when Manager Dave Roberts revealed that veteran pitcher Brandon Morrow had accepted an assignment to the minor leagues.

The team paid Morrow a $100,000 retention bonus. He can opt out of his contract by June 1. But if Morrow pitches well for triple-A Oklahoma City, he is likely to reach the majors far before then.

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With a road trip against the Rockies and Cubs scheduled after the opening series against San Diego, the Dodgers are considering carrying two long relievers. Both Alex Wood and Ross Stripling could fit that role. Roberts has said Wood is competing with Brandon McCarthy for the fifth spot in the rotation, and McCarthy has pitched in relief only once since 2007.

Morrow, 32, will accompany the team to Los Angeles for the Freeway Series. An injury to another pitcher this week could open a spot for him. Otherwise, he will wait to be recalled from the Pacific Coast League. He posted a 1.69 earned-run average in 18 appearances as a reliever for the Padres last year as he returned from shoulder surgery.

"It's huge that Brandon wants to be here," Roberts said. "To have him on our roster is a huge luxury for us."

Save for Kenley Jansen and Sergio Romo, Roberts has not committed to any other reliever making the team. The team could bring three left-handers, with Luis Avilan, Grant Dayton and Adam Liberatore all in the mix. The right-handed contenders include Josh Fields and Chris Hatcher, though Fields has minor league options and Hatcher has a 7.27 ERA this spring. Pedro Baez threw an inning in a minor league game on Monday after missing most of the spring because of a bone bruise on his pitching hand.

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