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Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Deep bench means more rest for vets

By Tony Jackson
ESPNLosAngeles.com

LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre rested half of his regular lineup for Wednesday's series finale with the Arizona Diamondbacks, giving catcher Russell Martin, third baseman Casey Blake, shortstop Rafael Furcal and left fielder Manny Ramirez the day off because of the noon PT start following Tuesday night's 10-inning game.

Although the mass changes have been fairly routine for Torre during his three seasons with the Dodgers, he said it wasn't as difficult to do this season because the team's bench is deeper than it has been in previous years.

"I did it last year because I thought the bench was better than it was the year before," Torre said. "A lot of days, it wasn't necessarily uncomfortable writing out a lineup because of all the options we had. We had Brad Ausmus, Juan Castro, guys who had played before. But I do think we're better this year with the quality of our bench."

Of the four players who were subbed in Wednesday, Jamey Carroll (shortstop) and Garret Anderson (left field) weren't with the team last year, Ronnie Belliard (third base) wasn't with the club until the trading deadline, and A.J. Ellis (catcher) spent most of the year in the minor leagues.

Torre had planned to give Ramirez and Blake the day off and was wrestling with Martin and Furcal, a decision that became easy when Tuesday's game went long.

"I knew Casey needed one because we bypassed him the last day game situation," Torre said. "I was going to wait until this morning with Furcal and see if we could get away with something. ... I think it's something you have to do regardless of the quality of your bench. If you're concerned about your starters, especially in a run like we're in right now with no off-day until [June 10], you have to make sure you take care of them."

Ellis know how to commit

Ellis made his second start in five days -- and his second start since the birth of his second child, a boy, last week. Ellis actually missed the birth, which took place in Milwaukee, to remain with the team because he is the only backup catcher with Ausmus on the disabled list, although Ellis was able to witness the birth via Skype.

Ellis said he and his wife had made an agreement months ago that if he were in the minors he would be there for the birth and that if he were in the majors he would stay with the team. He was promoted when Ausmus went on the DL April 10.

Torre lauded Ellis for his dedication to the team in an era when players routinely miss at least a game for the births of their children.

"He is a throwback, that's for sure," Torre said. "This kid knows the opportunity he has right now. When you play this game, it has to be all about family commitments because you spend so much time with your teammates, more than you do with your family. I'm sure it's tough. He said he was able to watch it on the computer, which is pretty wild, getting up at 2 or 3 in the morning or whatever it was. But I'm sure it's not the same as being there."

Counting on Monasterios

Torre said rookie Carlos Monasterios, who was scheduled to make his third major league start against the Diamondbacks, probably could throw as many as 80 pitches as long as he didn't have any unusually long innings early in the game. Torre also said Monasterios probably will get at least one more start before going back to the bullpen because knuckleballer Charlie Haeger isn't expected off the disabled list in time for Monday's game with St. Louis, the next time the fifth spot in the rotation is due to come up.

Ethier third in All-Star voting

Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier was third among National League outfielders in the newest All-Star balloting update released by Major League Baseball on Tuesday, putting him in position for a possible starting spot in the July 13 game at Angel Stadium.

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.