Notes: Who will sub for injured Gagne?
Ledee to start Opening Day; Penny placed on DL
ANAHEIM -- With the trade of Guillermo Mota last July, there really is no apparent Dodgers closer-in-waiting behind Eric Gagne, who will open the season on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right elbow.
General manager Paul DePodesta said Yhency Brazoban, who has two months of Major League experience, would be the most likely replacement because of his "pure stuff," but added that Giovanni Carrara has experience closing (particularly in winter ball) and listed Duaner Sanchez as another candidate. Brazoban and Sanchez do not have a Major League save, while Carrara has three in four seasons.
While Brazoban had a 0.60 ERA in 13 appearances in August, the workload seemed to take a toll in September as his ERA zoomed to 4.19 over 18 appearances.
"It's tough," said manager Jim Tracy. "And (Gagne's) not the only guy, considering Brad Penny and Wilson Alvarez. I really feel we have the resources to turn to. We'll get an opportunity to find out about other things we have. The important thing is we have to keep ourselves afloat and hold serve, knowing it's not months, but a few weeks away."
The only other pitcher on the roster with significant closer experience is Derek Lowe, but the last of his 85 career saves came in 2001, and the Dodgers are paying him $9 million a year to start.
Non-roster reliever Aquilino Lopez, reassigned to minor league camp last week, had 14 saves with Toronto as a rookie in 2003 and no other pitcher in the organization has more than five Major League saves.
Ryan Rupe appears to be a likely candidate to take Gagne's spot on the roster. Rupe would join Scott Erickson, Kelly Wunsch and Buddy Carlyle as non-roster invitees who apparently will make the Major League pitching staff, which also figures to include Rule 5 draft pick D.J. Houlton. Combined, they won one Major League game last year.
Ledee to start in opener: Tracy said that right-handed hitting rookie Jason Repko will get starts in left field against both left-handed and right-handed pitching while Jayson Werth is disabled.
But he won't start Opening Day against San Francisco's Jason Schmidt. Ricky Ledee will get that assignment.
Nonetheless, Tracy is intrigued by Repko batting in the No. 2 spot in the batting order, which is where Werth was slotted before his injury.
"I'm comfortable with him against certain right-handers," Tracy said. "He handles the bat and situationally he's a terrific baseball player, whatever outfield position. He brings a special energy, he's a tone-setter. I like him up there."
Starting Repko also keeps the left-handed hitting Ledee available for late-inning pinch-hitting. With a five-player bench, Tracy will need to be more judicious in his use of substitutes.
Penny update: Rehabilitating starter Penny was officially placed on the disabled list, retroactive to March 25. Werth and Alvarez will join him on the list over the weekend.
Penny will pitch three or four innings in a minor league game at Dodgertown on Sunday. Tracy said he's hopeful Penny could slide into the rotation April 19, the second time a fifth starter will be necessary.
"Is he the guy? I don't know," said Tracy. "Hopefully he'll be the guy. That might be a push."
Penny should have a sufficient pitch count in arm strength, but he also will need several minor league rehabilitation starts
Game update: Two errors by catcher Paul Bako led to a seven-run seventh inning for the Angels, but the Dodgers got a strong start from Odalis Perez, who allowed one run in 4 1/3 innings. Perez starts the second game of the season in San Francisco.
Reliever Sanchez was on the mound in the seventh, but it could have been worse than the five earned runs charged his way. Only hours after Gagne was disabled, Sanchez tried to flag down Maicer Izturis' one-hopper up the middle with his bare hand, but he was uninjured and stayed in the game.
Rule 5 update: Houlton, the Dodgers' Rule 5 pick, is expected to make the Opening Day roster. The Dodgers also lost three players in the Rule 5 Draft.
Philadelphia took outfielder Shane Victorino and offered him back to the Dodgers, but they declined to reacquire him. Colorado ended up with two Dodgers from the draft -- pitchers Marcos Carvajal and Matt Merricks. Carvajal will make the Rockies' staff, while Merricks will start the season on the disabled list.
Other roster moves: In a procedural move that allows him to play in the Freeway Series, Cody Ross was recalled. Ross was optioned after suffering a gash to his knee March 16, but has healed quickly and would be a likely emergency replacement if a Dodgers outfielder is injured.
The organization also made two minor league trades. The Dodgers acquired longtime Major League pitcher Pat Mahomes from the New York Mets for a player to be named. And they traded infielder Brett Dowdy to San Diego for center fielder Todd Donovan. Mahomes is an insurance policy who will be sent to Triple-A Las Vegas.
Coming up: The Dodgers get their first look at a renovated Dodger Stadium on Saturday as the Freeway Series moves north. Jeff Weaver starts for the Dodgers against John Lackey. The $20 million renovation includes the installation of 1,600 seats down the foul lines in an area that previously was foul-territory grass. There also are new dugouts located closer to the field. The amount of foul territory still part of the playing field was reduced from 30,000 square feet to 20,000 square feet.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.