Monasterios May Be Next Big Thing In Dodgers' Bullpen

Righthander Only Rookie On L.A. Opening Day Roster





LOS ANGELES Like Cory Wade, Ramon Troncoso and Ronald Belisario before him, Carlos Monasterios has the chance to be the next pleasant surprise for the Dodgers' bullpen.

The Dodgers have a way of going way off the radar to develop a key reliever and with the righthanded Monasterios, the club thinks it has a little bit of Troncoso and a little bit of Belisario rolled into one. He was the only rookie on the Dodgers' Opening Day roster and headed into the season with just two games experience above the Class A level.

Monasterios was recommended to the Dodgers by the same scout, Ron Rizzi, who recommended Belisario last offseason. Both pitchers hail from Venezuela.

But where Belisario was a free agent after unsuccessful runs in the Marlins and Pirates organizations, Monasterios came to the Dodgers via the Rule 5 Draft. The 24-year-old was selected by the Mets from the Phillies and traded to the Dodgers in December.

A solid spring training (1.69 ERA in 16 innings) convinced the Dodgers he would be worth the risk.

"I like his variety, his fastball and changeup," manager Joe Torre said. "The last couple of outings he's had an easy time. We'll take a look. Well see."

Torre said he will use Monsterios like he used Troncoso last year. Monasterios ought to consider that a warning. Troncoso was leaned on heavily at the start of the 2009 season pitching in various roles and often used on back-to-back days. Troncoso passed all his early tests and toward the end of the season he was sharing time with Belisario in front of set-up man George Sherrill.

Making that kind of leap would seem to be a stretch. Monasterios was 5-6, 3.73 in 82 innings (35 apperances) at high Class A Clearwater last season before his September promotion to Double-A Reading. There he gave up three runs in seven innings.

L.A. CONFIDENTIAL

• Righthander Josh Lindblom was honored by Dodgers coaches as the top minor league pitcher in big league camp this spring. In nine innings the 22-year-old, second-round selection in 2008 struck out eight with three walks, posting a 5.00 ERA. He will open the season at Triple-A Albuquerque.

• Infielder Chin-lung Hu will begin at Albuquerque despite a solid spring. Hu was stuck behind a number of middle infielders with major league experience.