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03/30/09 7:02 PM ET

Weaver shifted to get more innings

Torre puts right-hander in Minor League game for extended work

PHOENIX -- Jeff Weaver was scratched from pitching in Monday's Dodgers exhibition game with Oakland and instead sent to a Minor League game, but it's a good thing.

That's because manager Joe Torre all but said Weaver has made the club as a long reliever. So Weaver pitched three scoreless innings in a Minor League game to stretch out his stamina with 40 pitches in case the Dodgers might eventually need him to start, even though rookie James McDonald apparently has won the fifth-starter job.

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"It gives us some options in case we want to hand him the ball and say, 'Here,' " said Torre. "Mainly, he'll be that long guy out of the bullpen. He's been consistent for me, without telling you he's on the club. We're doing what we're doing today, not seeing him in the big league game, this is more a physical thing to stretch him out."

Torre explained that Monday's starting pitcher, Clayton Kershaw, is aiming for about 95 pitches. Torre also wants Jonathan Broxton and Guillermo Mota to pitch in the game and said there wouldn't be enough innings left for Weaver, who already had been bumped from Sunday's game and hasn't pitched since Friday.

If and when Weaver makes the club, it will be another comeback chapter of his career, which found him winning the World Series clincher for St. Louis in 2006 but spending all of 2008 in the Minor Leagues.

Also bumped from Monday's game is catcher Russell Martin, who is ill with the flu. Martin was going to catch all nine innings, but Brad Ausmus will play instead.

Mark Loretta, out a week with a strained groin, won't return to game action until Wednesday or Thursday, but Torre said he's confident Loretta will be ready to open the season.

Jason Schmidt (shoulder) and Delwyn Young (elbow) figure to start the season on the disabled list. Claudio Vargas' status is murky because he's complained of a sore elbow, but doctors haven't found a cause. Torre said there will be one or two more cuts before the club leaves Arizona after Wednesday's game.

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