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Dodgers move struggling pitcher Kenta Maeda into bullpen

Kenta Maeda and his 5.16 ERA are headed to the bullpen.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Unsteady for most of his second season in the majors, Kenta Maeda has lost his spot in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. The team will shift him into the bullpen starting this weekend against Cincinnati, with Maeda expected to appear in an extended relief outing on either Friday or Saturday.

Manager Dave Roberts revealed the decision before Wednesday’s game against Washington. Maeda (4-3, 5.16 earned-run average) put himself in jeopardy with a pair of abbreviated outings last week, failing to pitch into the fifth inning in both games. He has struggled to finish at-bats, and Roberts remarked on a slew of “noncompetitive” pitches when facing Milwaukee on Sunday.

Given the team’s constantly shifting rotation of starters, Maeda could experience only a temporary stay in the bullpen. For now, though, the team intends to stick with a five-man unit. Maeda rates sixth on the depth chart.

“We need him to get back on track, get some momentum,” Roberts said. “I don’t know what day he’s going to pitch, but he’s open to it, and it shows who he is as a teammate.”

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Rich Hill will start on Friday against the Reds. Alex Wood returns from the disabled list on Saturday. Hyun-Jin Ryu, who made a brief appearance as a reliever in May, will start on Sunday. Ryu (2-8, 4.08 ERA) has outperformed Maeda this season, and has taken the spot from his teammate.

“We’re going with the guys we feel are giving us the best chance to win right now,” Roberts said.

Turner hopeful for Friday

In the final step before rejoining the Dodgers, Justin Turner (hamstring strain) took part in a simulated game on Wednesday morning. Turner said he felt no discomfort in his leg while fielding grounders, taking at-bats and running the bases. Turner indicated his readiness for activation on Friday depended on how his body responded on Thursday morning.

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“I don’t think I’ve run that much in years,” Turner said. “I’m sure I’ll be a little sore, but if the hamstring tightness is in there at all, it’ll probably be a couple more days.”

Short hops

Joc Pederson (concussion) also participated in the simulated game. He is expected to begin his rehab assignment on Friday. He will play every other day at the start of the stint, to avoid extra stress on his neck, which was strained when he collided with Yasiel Puig in the outfield on May 23. … Pitching prospect Mitchell White is expected to be sidelined for four to six weeks with a broken toe. White, a 22-year-old right-hander, is 2-1 with a 3.72 earned-run average in nine starts for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga.

andy.mccullough@latimes.com

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Twitter: @McCulloughTimes


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