The 34-year-old Park is the Dodgers' reclamation story of 2008. He was signed to a Minor League contract after pitching only four innings in the Major Leagues last year and being released by two organizations. He pitched well enough to make the club out of Spring Training in most seasons, but lost the fifth-starter competition to Esteban Loaiza, who had a guaranteed contract, and instead Park was sent to Triple-A for less than a week.
He was promoted to the Majors on April 3 and has adapted to long relief remarkably well for a career starter, compiling a 2.16 ERA with a 1-0 record and his first career save. He has pitched three innings on four separate occasions.
"We felt with his stuff and his feel, he could adjust to the bullpen," said manager Joe Torre. "It took him time, but he seems to have conquered the process."
Torre said Park was available to pitch one inning Wednesday night. Otherwise, he would throw his bullpen session during the late innings of the game.
Park, the Dodgers' Opening Day starter in 2001, got the nod over Hong-Chih Kuo and Minor League phenom Clayton Kershaw, who still could be promoted later this month. The fifth starter spot comes up again on May 27 and then pretty much becomes necessary through the All-Star break.
Meanwhile, incumbent fifth starter Loaiza came out of a bullpen session on Tuesday without any problem with his shoulder blade tightness, and another session is scheduled for Friday in Anaheim.
Loaiza has been working on mechanics and building arm strength. He is eligible to be activated on Sunday, but it's unclear what his role would be. Cory Wade has a 1.86 ERA in middle and long relief duty. Yhency Brazoban was called up to replace Loaiza, but he has pitched only one inning, in an appearance on May 9.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less