Notes: Kuo sent to Las Vegas
Struggling southpaw swapped out with righty Houlton
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers optioned starting pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo to Triple-A Las Vegas and recalled right-hander D.J. Houlton before Saturday night's game.Kuo, who was 1-4 with a 7.42 ERA in eight games (six starts), had his third straight poor start on Friday night, allowing seven runs (six earned) in just 3 1/3 innings. In his last three starts, Kuo had given up 18 runs on 16 hits in just 10 1/3 innings prompting the Dodgers to make the move for another starter. Kuo received the news about an hour before the first pitch and was unaware that he was being optioned when reporters spoke to him before batting practice. In an interview prior to batting practice, Kuo said he was preparing for his next start and was looking forward to helping the team. "No, I wasn't happy last night," Kuo said of Friday's outing. "I just got to go out there and try the best that I can to help the team win." Manager Grady Little said that Kuo's performance in his last three starts was not good enough, but he also said that he expected Kuo to rebound and make an impact in the future. "He's got an awfully good arm, and we still feel this kid has a good future, so we have to be real careful what we do with him," Little said. "I think with this young man, it's more of an experience issue." Houlton, who started 19 games for the Dodgers in 2005 and went 6-9 with a 5.16 ERA overall, started 14 games for Las Vegas and was 5-4 with a 3.90 ERA before being called up on Saturday. Houlton, 27, spent the entire 2006 season in Triple-A and could take Kuo's spot in the rotation. Little said that he would consider Houlton, Brett Tomko or Mark Hendrickson for the fifth spot. A first in the Majors: On Friday Chin-hui Tsao and Kuo became the first two Taiwanese pitchers to appear in the same game in the Major Leagues. Kuo started the game, and Tsao came on in relief of Joe Beimel and pitched a scoreless ninth inning. "It was a special to see him back out there," said Kuo, referring to Tsao returning from the disabled list. "We've know each other since Little League so it's special." Tsao and Kuo have known each other since they were 11 years old. Tsao said Kuo's Little League team was the best and his team rarely beat them. "His team was always the champion," Tsao said. "Kuo was a good hitter and he could run, too. They were a good team." The friends also competed in high school, when Kuo's team one the championship one season and Tsao's the other two. Tsao said he faced Kuo a few times in high school but never gave him any pitches to hit. "I wouldn't throw him any strikes, because he was always trying to hit a home run," Tsao said. "He still reminds me about his team winning the championship." This season the two Taiwanese pitchers joined sides and on Friday they made history. Speaking of Tsao: Tsao pitched for the Dodgers for the first time since being put on the DL with a shoulder strain on May 23. "I feel good," Tsao said. "I felt like I was ready, because I threw five bullpens and my arm feels strong. It's good to be back." Martinez to rehab: Infielder Ramon Martinez, recovering from a back injury, will be sent to Las Vegas for a rehab assignment on Monday. Martinez was primarily used as a pinch-hitter and a defensive replacement at third base, short stop and second base before he was injured on June 8. On this date: Saturday marked the 45th anniversary of Sandy Koufax's first no-hitter. On June 30, 1962, the Hall of Famer recorded 13 strikeouts in no-hitting the New York Mets. He went on to set a National League record with four. Coming up: Chad Billingsley (4-0, 4.01 ERA) will take the mound for Dodgers and the Padres' Justin Germano (5-1, 2.67) will oppose him in the finale of a three-game series on Sunday afternoon at 1:10 PT at Dodger Stadium.
Jayson Addcox is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.