WASHINGTON -- Xavier Paul was called up from Triple-A on Friday to replace injured outfielder Manny Ramirez on the Dodgers roster, but his flight out of New Orleans was delayed 2 1/2 hours by bad weather and he landed in Washington after the Dodgers, playing a man short, lost 5-1 to the Nationals.
Paul is hoping this callup goes better than last year's. Paul got that call when Ramirez was suspended 50 games for violating the MLB drug policy. Paul played in only 11 games with the Dodgers and hit his first home run, but wound up in the hospital for a week with a staph infection in his leg from a slide in Philadelphia.
Out more than a month, he was just about ready for game action when he suffered a hairline fracture of his ankle while at the club's Camelback Ranch-Glendale facility in Arizona. That healed in time for him to get in some Triple-A playoff games and the Arizona Junior Fall League, but no Major League callup.
"I'm trying to forget about last year as much as possible -- especially the negative end," said Paul. "I got called up yesterday and I was in my hometown [Slidell, La.] and that couldn't be better. I had a lot of family there watching me and I had to call everybody and tell them not to go to Friday night's game, because I was going back to the big leagues. That pretty much made my year."
Paul, 25, hit .256 this spring. With the acquisitions of Reed Johnson and Garret Anderson, there was no room for him to break with the big league club regardless of how he played.
"My spring was good enough to get me back here now," he said. "I lost a lot of time last year and this spring I needed to reopen eyes for this to happen. It feels good to be back."
Manny returns to Los Angeles for treatment
WASHINGTON -- Disabled Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez returned to Los Angeles on Saturday to receive treatment for his strained right calf muscle.
"I didn't think there was any reason -- and Ned [Colletti, general manager] felt the same way -- to just carry him around, especially going to New York," manager Joe Torre said, referring to the next series with the Mets that starts Monday night. "It'll be a bit of a circus."
Ramirez, 37, was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Friday with an injury he originally suffered the first week of the season in Pittsburgh. He aggravated it last week and missed two starts over the weekend against the Giants, then reinjured it again running to first base on a single in an 8-5 loss to the Reds on Thursday night. He underwent an MRI on Friday.
Ramirez convinced club officials that the injury needed more than a few days off. It's only the third time he's been on the DL in a 17-season career and the first time since he broke his left index finger in 2002. Torre said he "hoped" Ramirez would return in the minimum 15 days.
Xavier Paul, called up from Triple-A Albuquerque to replace Ramirez on the roster, was in Saturday's lineup starting in left field. Paul missed Friday night's game when his flight out of New Orleans was delayed by bad weather.
Haeger has Torre's confidence in five spot
WASHINGTON -- Dodgers manager Joe Torre said his fifth starter will continue to be Charlie Haeger, who is 0-2 with a 6.46 ERA after three starts and one relief appearance.
Haeger took Friday night's loss, charged with four runs (three earned) in 5 1/3 innings. He allowed a pair of home runs to Adam Dunn accounting for three of the runs (two earned).
"Right now, when you look at the final numbers, he kept us in the game," Torre said. "Yeah, I have no reason to change anything right now. He has some versatility. But until somebody pops up and shows something different, I have no plans to change."
Haeger's start on Friday night was much improved over his previous start against the Giants, when he allowed seven runs (five earned) with five walks in three-plus innings. Friday night he walked one, despite falling behind to 16 of the 23 batters he faced.
"With a knuckleball pitcher it's remarkable, you never look at the pitch count," Torre said. "You sit back, and whatever it is, it is. You don't get too upset about ball-three."
Last year, the Dodgers were remarkably successful (30-16) in games started by the so-called fifth spot in the rotation -- in other words, by someone other than Hiroki Kuroda, Randy Wolf, Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw.
Confidence eluding Billingsley early on
WASHINGTON -- Dodgers manager Joe Torre was praising the confident way center fielder Matt Kemp goes about his business when he was asked about the confidence level of Chad Billingsley, who starts Sunday's finale against the Nationals.
"I think he's searching," Torre said of Billingsley. "He wants the same thing we do. Unfortunately, a starting pitcher has the tendency to go one of two ways. Either you try not to get too excited, or you get over-prepared and get outside yourself and overthrow.
"He needs to be intense, without being tense. He needs to have that bumblebee inside, in a controlled manner. That's what Sandy [Koufax] talked to [Clayton] Kershaw about, using all your energy, but in the right way."
Billingsley is 1-0, but a 7.07 ERA tells the story about his inconsistency. Although three of the seven runs he allowed against the Reds on Tuesday were unearned -- caused by his error -- for the second time in as many starts Billingsley served up a home run leading off an inning that spun into an even bigger inning when the next two batters reached base.
He's been unable to do damage control, as he did in his lone win in his first start of the year in Pittsburgh, where he escaped jams with runners in scoring position in four consecutive innings and was charged with only one run that scored after he left.
"His stuff is good," said Torre. "We have a tendency to make such an issue of pitch count and throwing strikes, that you can become too concerned with that instead of trusting when he lets it go."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.