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‘Topes short on arms at the moment

Alex Guerrero, right, is congratulated by 'Topes teammates Chili Buss (17) and Joc Pederson (3) after a two-run homer.(Jim Thompson/Journal)

Alex Guerrero, right, is congratulated by ‘Topes teammates Chili Buss (17) and Joc Pederson (3) after a two-run homer.(Jim Thompson/Journal)

Damon Berryhill knew, but he wasn’t telling.

The Albuquerque Isotopes manager kept the TBA (to be announced) designation on his team’s starting pitcher Wednesday until less than an hour before Carlos Frias fired his first pitch against the Salt Lake Bees.

Frias, the mystery starter, was called up from Double-A Chattanooga on Tuesday and joined the ‘Topes on Wednesday morning. His start didn’t go especially well as Frias surrendered seven runs (six earned) in five innings in a 7-6 loss to the Bees at Isotopes Park.

Berryhill might have preferred to relieve Frias during a six-run Bees rally in the third inning, but he was short of options. Frias was called up only because the ‘Topes needed a starter after Red Patterson did not make his scheduled start Tuesday and Steve Smith (Wednesday’s scheduled starter) was bumped forward to pitch Tuesday.

“Carlos had one rough inning,” Berryhill said. “Other than that he was pretty sharp. But as short as we are on the pitching staff right now, I needed to get five innings out of Carlos.”

As for what’s up with Patterson, that’s where things get interesting.

Unofficial scuttlebutt on several Internet sites this week had Patterson making his big league debut today. The parent Los Angeles Dodgers are scheduled to play a doubleheader at Minnesota and had not announced who would pitch the second game.

The rumor has legs because Patterson had a good spring with the Dodgers and has pitched well for the Isotopes this month. Of course, promoting Patterson, who is not on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster, would require that someone else be removed.

And on the speculation goes …

One might expect Berryhill to be sworn to silence about Patterson’s situation, right? Guess again.

“Red?” Berryhill said after Wednesday’s game. “Red’s got the flu. That’s why we’ve been moving pitchers around.”

Less than 30 minutes later, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was asked whether Patterson would pitch Game 2 for his team today. He was quoted as saying “probably.”

Cloak and dagger, anyone?

Whatever the Dodgers end up doing, it certainly figures to impact the Isotopes’ future pitching plans. However, the unexpected appearance of starter Stephen Fife, who pitched a relief inning Wednesday night, did not put another TBA on Albuquerque’s schedule for today.

Fife had been scheduled to go but right-hander Matt Magill will start today’s School Day Matinee, Berryhill said. Both Fife and Magill started in the Isotopes’ doubleheader at Fresno on Saturday.

PRODUCTION ISSUES: After letting late leads slip away on consecutive nights, Albuquerque’s bullpen performed flawlessly Wednesday. Yimi Garcia, Fife and Daniel Moskos combined for four scoreless innings of work.

The Isotopes offense was not as effective. Albuquerque had runners at first and third with one out in both the sixth and eighth innings. Both frames ended with back-to-back strikeouts.

“It’s been a struggle for the last week or so getting runners in from third,” Berryhill said. “We’ve had guys chasing balls out of the (strike) zone and putting pressure on themselves instead of on the pitcher. We’ve got to do a better job in those situations.”

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