Is Looper Next?

Now that the Dodgers have signed free agent Garret Anderson, the next unemployed veteran they are waiting out is right-handed pitcher Braden Looper, whose agent, Alan Hendricks, was making the rounds at Camelback Ranch-Glendale Thursday.

Looper was in the original foursome the Dodgers targeted over the winter for an innings-eating fourth starter – the others were Vicente Padilla, Joel Piniero and Jon Garland. When the music stopped, Piniero had signed a two-year deal with the Angels, the Dodgers had signed Padilla, Garland was taken by the Padres and Looper was left out of the loop.

Hendricks said Looper – 14-7 with a 5.22 ERA last year in Milwaukee — is doing all he can to stay in shape at home near Chicago, waiting for an acceptable offer.

The Dodgers now view Looper as a possible fifth-starter solution, but intend to pay him as one. They have no Major League roster spot available and apparently are willing to give Looper only a non-guaranteed Minor League contract.

Currently, the fifth starter spot is up for grabs among Eric Stults, Scott Elbert, James McDonald, Charlie Haeger, Carlos Monasterios, Ramon Ortiz and Russ Ortiz. — Ken Gurnick

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