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Mitchell's rotation spot may be in jeopardy

Another rough start calls right-hander's role into question
MLB.com @AJCassavell

MONTERREY, Mexico -- Bryan Mitchell's leash as a starting pitcher is getting shorter. Whether it's run out entirely remains to be seen.

The 27-year-old right-hander was removed after 2 1/3 innings in Saturday night's 7-4 Padres victory over the Dodgers in Monterrey. Mitchell threw 55 pitches, only 28 for strikes, and had allowed three runs before manager Andy Green rose from the dugout to call on his bullpen.

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MONTERREY, Mexico -- Bryan Mitchell's leash as a starting pitcher is getting shorter. Whether it's run out entirely remains to be seen.

The 27-year-old right-hander was removed after 2 1/3 innings in Saturday night's 7-4 Padres victory over the Dodgers in Monterrey. Mitchell threw 55 pitches, only 28 for strikes, and had allowed three runs before manager Andy Green rose from the dugout to call on his bullpen.

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Following his last start, Mitchell was seemingly put on notice. Green implied that Mitchell's performance needed to improve for his place in the rotation to remain secure.

"Going forward, we'll sit down and talk about it," Green said after Saturday's start, offering no guarantees for Mitchell's next outing.

Mitchell, meanwhile, fully expects to take the ball Thursday in San Diego.

"I don't know why I wouldn't," he said.

Mitchell is out of options, meaning he can't be sent to the Minors without first being exposed to waivers. If he were to lose his place in the rotation, he could be bullpen-bound instead.

When asked if he'd accept such a role, Mitchell responded, "That's not something I'm even contemplating right now."

Mitchell worked a sharp first inning, striking out two Dodgers without allowing a hit. He came unraveled in the second, when Matt Kemp launched a monster home run to straightaway center field.

Video: LAD@SD: Kemp crushes a solo home run to center

Four of the next five batters reached base against Mitchell, and he was lucky to escape with minimal damage, courtesy of a Chase Utley double-play ball.

After retiring the leadoff man in the third, Mitchell issued his 26th walk -- second most in the Majors -- then Kemp followed with a single. After a quick meeting on the mound with catcher Raffy Lopez, Green sprung from the top step of the dugout.

"You're given faith and latitude in the beginning as a starting pitcher," Green said. "We gave him a lot of opportunity up to this point in time to earn the right to stay on the mound. For me, it's the two-out walks and a walk an inning. You get to the point where you've got to make a decision for the sake of the team. We want some guys that are going to pound the strike zone."

The bullpen did just that, bailing Mitchell out with 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball.

"As a competitor, yeah, I am surprised," Mitchell said of Green's quick hook. "But I've also never managed a game in the big leagues, either. Robbie [Erlin] did a great job coming in behind me, and everyone after him did a great job keeping the game where it was. You can't really second-guess it. As a competitor, I wasn't happy about it, but you've got to move on."

Whether he moves on in the rotation or in the bullpen -- that's TBD.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres, Bryan Mitchell