Rodriguez closer to returning to Dodgers' bullpen

Rodriguez closer to returning to Dodgers' bullpen

LOS ANGELES -- Paco Rodriguez has pitched in one Major League game since July 19. But he's left-handed, so when he climbs on a mound, the Dodgers pay attention.

Out since Aug. 4 with a strained teres major muscle near his left shoulder, Rodriguez threw a bullpen session on Wednesday. If he comes out of it healthy enough to throw a simulated game this weekend, he could play a bullpen role for the Dodgers this month and next.

"He was pretty good, really good I thought, at 100 percent velocity," manager Don Mattingly said. "His own words were, 'I threw as hard as I can throw in the 'pen.' Bouncing back was his problem after the last time. On flat ground he's had zero effect. We'll see what the next couple days bring. He was sharp today."

Coming off a spotty 2013, Rodriguez appeared in seven of the club's first 13 games this season and the workload seemed to take a toll. He was optioned to Triple-A to make room for the activation of Brian Wilson in mid-April, had brief callups in May and July and suffered his current injury after a two-inning outing on Aug. 3.

J.P. Howell is currently the lone lefty in the bullpen. Paul Maholm is out for the year with knee surgery, Onelki Garcia is trying a late return after missing nearly the entire season with elbow and knee operations and Scott Elbert never regained his form after Tommy John surgery.

"It's hard to count on somebody you haven't had, but it would be nice to have an additional lefty," Mattingly said. "Even last night, San Diego is like two different clubs right-handed and left-handed. San Francisco, Colorado, too. One lefty puts you in a bind on matchups."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.