SAN DIEGO -- Unless the Dodgers trade for a starting pitcher by Saturday's noon deadline, manager Joe Torre said their starting pitcher for that day's game at San Francisco probably will be either John Ely, who presently is pitching at Triple-A Albuquerque, or Chad Billingsley, who would be on three days' rest after pitching six shutout innings but throwing only 84 pitches in Tuesday night's win over the San Diego Padres.
Billingsley said he couldn't recall pitching on three days' rest in his career, but added that he certainly wouldn't mind doing it and that it wouldn't be "a huge deal." Torre later said Billingsley came into his office before Wednesday night's game with the Padres and volunteered to do it.
The Dodgers need a spot starter for that game because Clayton Kershaw decided to drop his appeal and go ahead and serve his five-game, league-imposed suspension, meaning he won't be available to start until Sunday's game. If Billingsley isn't brought back on short rest Saturday, he would be going on an extra day's rest on Monday night against the Padres because he is lined up to pitch on Sunday.
Torre seemed reluctant to use Billingsley, who has pitched 15 shutout innings over his past two starts, on short rest.
"Starting pitchers are on a routine," Torre said. "But that is something we'll look at. He has been pitching so well that I'm not sure we want to disrupt that."
Ely, a rookie, is 2-0 in two starts, allowing five runs on 10 hits over 14 innings, since being optioned to Albuquerque on July 11. He is 4-7 with a 4.63 ERA in 14 starts for the Dodgers this season.
Torre also allowed for the possibility that the club could use all relievers for that game, but even that would require whoever started the game to go about four innings, and Torre said he doesn't see an obvious candidate in the Dodgers bullpen to do that.
Johnson on way back
Dodgers outfielder Reed Johnson, who has been on the 15-day disabled list with a lumbar strain in his back since July 15, took batting practice on the field before Wednesday night's game and might be on the verge of finally beginning a minor league rehabilitation assignment.
"We may be on the verge of at least planning one," Torre said.
Johnson originally had been slated for a rehab assignment last weekend, but while he never had a setback, his back stopped getting better, so the rehab was placed on hold.
Reliever Justin Miller, whom the Dodgers designated for assignment on Friday to clear a roster spot so they could recall Kenley Jansen, has cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Albuquerque.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.