Zach Lee takes odd path to the majors

WASHINGTON -- This was probably not the way Zach Lee envisioned his arrival in the major leagues.

The Los Angeles Dodgers took Lee in the first round of the 2010 draft and had to pay him $5.25 million to ensure he wouldn’t bolt to LSU to play both quarterback and pitcher. His career was generally on track until he reached Triple-A last season, at age 22, and put up a 5.39 ERA at high-altitude Albuquerque.

On Saturday, the Dodgers called him up to serve as their 26th man for the second game of their one-and-a-half-header with the Washington Nationals. That means that Lee probably won’t pitch unless Clayton Kershaw has an extremely short start, which doesn’t happen often. It also means he figures to be headed back to join Oklahoma City when it’s over.

And what did Dodgers manager Don Mattingly say to the pitcher who was once the organization’s top prospect? Nothing, Mattingly said, other than how the team would use him if he were to pitch. Any appearance would be the first relief appearance of Lee’s career.

“Obviously, in spring training guys come into games and things like that, but he’s still a starter,” Mattingly said.

Lee has had a solid season now that the Dodgers’ Triple-A team is in Oklahoma City. He pitched through an injury scare that involved some numbness in his right fingertips and is 8-3 with a 2.26 ERA. He last pitched Sunday, giving up a run on six hits in five innings.