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Dodgers plan to keep Maeda, rotation in order

Hill takes big step by throwing for first time since June
@paul_casella
July 18, 2019

PHILADELPHIA -- The Dodgers plan to keep their rotation in order, despite Kenta Maeda's abbreviated Wednesday start following a 2-hour and 37-minute rain delay. Maeda threw just 35 pitches over two hitless innings before the tarp came on the field in the top of the third inning of the Dodgers'

PHILADELPHIA -- The Dodgers plan to keep their rotation in order, despite Kenta Maeda's abbreviated Wednesday start following a 2-hour and 37-minute rain delay.

Maeda threw just 35 pitches over two hitless innings before the tarp came on the field in the top of the third inning of the Dodgers' 7-2 win at Citizens Bank Park. Manager Dave Roberts said Maeda's next start will come Tuesday against the Angels as planned, though the right-hander could pitch an inning of relief on Friday or Saturday against the Marlins.

"The plan for Kenta is to start on Tuesday," Roberts said. "But Friday or Saturday ... maybe throw an inning out of the bullpen to take down an inning for our guys in the bullpen and also to keep him sharp to start on Tuesday."

Maeda has not pitched out of the 'pen this season, but he did make 19 relief appearances during the 2018 regular season. He also pitched exclusively out of the bullpen in the last two postseasons, racking up 17 relief outings.

Maeda has posted a 3.20 ERA over his last 12 starts after recording a 4.66 mark through his first seven. He's allowed three runs or fewer in all but one of those 12 outings, with the lone exception coming June 11 against the Angels -- the same team he'll face on Tuesday. He allowed five runs off three hits and three walks over 4 1/3 innings.

Hill takes first step
Left-hander Rich Hill played catch without any issues prior to Thursday's series finale at Citizens Bank Park. It was the first time he's thrown a ball since leaving his June 19 start with a strained left flexor tendon that is expected to keep him sidelined until at least August.

"I just played catch from 45 feet for 25 throws, so there's not a whole lot to take from it, but it's a first step," Hill said. "This is kind of an ease-in period -- a real ease-in period. It's kind of like driving school at this point."

The 39-year-old Hill will rest on Friday before playing catch again on Saturday. After resting his arm completely for four weeks, he will now alternate playing catch and taking a day off over the next two weeks.

Though he acknowledged he still has a ways to go to build back up, Hill was at least encouraged to be tossing a baseball again. He said it had been "years" since he's gone this long without throwing a ball.

"I think when I'm back at 100 percent and pitching, and after getting back into the first Major League game, that's when I'll be happy," Hill said. "But yeah, it's a nice first step."

News and notes
• Roberts said he expects Kenley Jansen (right ankle) to be available Thursday in the bullpen. Jansen did not pitch Wednesday after taking a 98 mph comebacker off his right ankle in Tuesday's loss, but Roberts said the closer's ankle was "significantly better" Wednesday after receiving treatment.

• Catcher Will Smith, the Dodgers' No. 4 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, left Wednesday's game with Triple-A Oklahoma City after getting hit on the right hand after he appeared to be crossed up on a pitch.

"He's fine," Roberts said. "It was more just precautionary."

• The Dodgers recalled left-hander Caleb Ferguson from Triple-A Oklahoma City prior to Thursday's game to provide a fresh arm in the bullpen after using five relievers following Wednesday's lengthy rain delay. Casey Sadler, who tossed two-thirds of an inning immediately following the 2-hour, 37-minute delay, was optioned to Oklahoma City to make room on the active roster.

Paul Casella is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter @paul_casella.