Veteran hurlers agree to go to Minors
Milton needs arm strength; Sturtze still has shot at roster spot
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Eric Milton has accepted a Minor League assignment, Tanyon Sturtze will if he doesn't make the Major League club and Shawn Estes is still thinking about it as the Dodgers try to stock up on pitching inventory.
Although Milton suffered through another wind-blown tough outing Wednesday, the club hasn't given up on him. He was asked to go to Triple-A Albuquerque and he accepted, extending an April 4 escape clause for one month in hopes that he regains arm strength sapped by 1 1/2 years on the sidelines from Tommy John elbow surgery.
Manager Joe Torre has talked up Milton since the start of Spring Training, even though he's been hit often enough for a 10.07 ERA.
"I like his composure, his knowledge of the game, the whole thing," Torre said of Milton. "We want him to get more innings in and build up his arm. Sometimes he wasn't able to do what he wanted to do. We have a great deal of interest in him and he agreed to do it."
The 33-year-old Milton, a 10-year veteran with an 87-84 career mark, apparently lost the fifth-starter job to rookie James McDonald, but the Dodgers think there's more in the tank than they saw this spring.
"They felt I'm not ready yet and I haven't pitched more than three innings, so I haven't been able to build my stamina and get my arm strong," said Milton. "I'm still not finishing my pitches. But they seem to want me to succeed. That's a good thing. When Joe Torre likes you, that's a good thing. They liked what they saw and the way I carried myself. They want me to succeed and I'm going to do everything I can to make it work."
Torre said the 38-year-old Sturtze also agreed to accept a Minor League assignment if he doesn't make the Opening Day roster. He appears to be competing with Ramon Troncoso for the job of putting down rallies with runners on base. Sturtze has more experience than Troncoso and he's long been a Torre favorite, but Sturtze would require freeing up a roster spot and Troncoso already has one.
The 36-year-old Estes said he plans to request a short window to seek a Major League job elsewhere before deciding whether to pitch in the Minor Leagues or retire. He actually was cut a week ago, but instead attempted to transform himself into a short reliever. He said earlier this spring that he's likely to retire if he doesn't land a big league job.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.