John Axford and Tony Cingrani, two veteran relievers who could possibly return to bolster the Dodgers’ bullpen for their playoff push, made rehab appearances for another club in pursuit of a championship Friday night. They pitched for single-A Rancho Cucamonga, which claimed the California League title.
“They’re stacking the deck, trying to help them make their playoff push,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts joked before his team’s 3-0 win over the Cardinals on Friday night. “We’ll see how they come out of it. And our hope is to get these guys back. So we’ll see how it goes tonight.”
Axford was given the seventh inning with Rancho Cucamonga leading 6-0 and didn’t finish it. The right-hander walked a batter, threw a wild pitch and surrendered an RBI double before exiting with two outs.
Cingrani was better. The left-hander pitched the eighth, striking out two and walking one.
But Axford is closer to a return to the Dodgers. Acquired from Toronto at the non-waiver trade deadline, the 35-year-old Axford suffered a fractured fibula on a comebacker in his third outing as a Dodger on Aug. 12. Over a month later, Roberts said Axford might not need more than his outing Friday before rejoining Los Angeles.
“It’s possible that the one-and-done could potentially get him back with us,” Roberts said, “but we haven’t made that decision.”
Cingrani will need more time. The left-hander has been on the disabled list since June 7 with a shoulder strain, the kind of the injury the Dodgers have decided warrants more reps.
Axford arrived in Los Angeles with a 4.41 ERA in 45 appearances for Toronto before surrendering six runs in one-third of an inning in his Dodgers debut. He then tossed three shutout innings, striking out four in two outings. Cingrani, 29, had previously landed on the disabled list in May with left shoulder inflammation. He has a 4.84 ERA in 28 games this season.
“Obviously, these guys want to get back and pitch in some meaningful games for us,” Roberts said.