DENVER -- Infielder Luis Cruz elected free agency Tuesday rather than accept a Triple-A assignment by the Dodgers.
Cruz, a feel-good story last year when he came out of relative obscurity to win the starting third-base job in the second half, was designated for assignment by the Dodgers last week to make room for the activation of outfielder Scott Van Slyke.
By then, Cruz not only had lost the third-base job he had Opening Day, but was hitting .127 with one homer and six RBIs in 45 games. Last year he hit .297.
By declaring free agency, Cruz voids the remainder of his split contract, which would have paid him the pro-ratio of $148,000 in the Minor Leagues and $505,000 in the Major Leagues.
Rehabbing Crawford, Lilly nearing return to big leagues
DENVER -- Carl Crawford could rejoin the Dodgers as soon as this weekend and Ted Lilly could be one rehab start behind him, but manager Don Mattingly indicated neither automatically gets his job back.
Crawford, who went 1-4 with a three-run double in his rehab game with Class A Rancho Cucamonga on Tuesday night, will become part of an outfield quartet, sharing time with Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and rookie Yasiel Puig, who has become an instant fixture. Crawford will DH Wednesday, then possibly meet the club in San Francisco Friday.
"I don't want to give Puig days [off] when he's swinging the bat the way he's swinging," said Mattingly. "I will if he struggles or fights himself, but maybe that doesn't come up at all the way it's going. I'm serious."
Normally, the rookie Puig would be the one to sit, but that's not going to happen. Mattingly said he would discuss playing time with the outfielders "straight up."
"Everybody sees what Yasiel is doing," he said. "You keep throwing up three hits every day, you're in the lineup. Carl will need days off. Andre against a tough lefty and Matt against a tough righty. Even Puig might get a day."
Lilly will have trouble fighting his way back into a starting rotation, Mattingly hinted, because of the consistent pitching of Stephen Fife.
"Fife has pitched really well," said Mattingly. "Just like Yasiel in a sense, he's been competitive every outing and gives us a good chance to win. We're trying to win games. We'll put our five best starters on the field and work it out."
Schumaker waiting for results of appeal
DENVER -- Dodgers utilityman Skip Schumaker had a conference-call hearing with MLB officials Tuesday to appeal his two-game suspension and said he hoped to have a result later Tuesday night or Wednesday. Schumaker was suspended in the wake of the June 11 brawl between the Dodgers and Diamondbacks, but was not ejected from the game by umpires.
Schumaker was assessed a two-game suspension by MLB for "aggressive actions." Schumaker said replays will show that he was playing peacemaker in the benches-clearing incident after Arizona pitcher Ian Kennedy hit Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke with a pitch near his neck.
Schumaker's actions might have been misinterpreted because, as the on-deck hitter, he was already on the field and appeared on the scene of the skirmish faster than the other Dodgers.
Players, Mattingly upbeat about Marmol deal
DENVER -- Even though the Cubs gave up on Carlos Marmol, reaction in the Dodgers clubhouse to his acquisition was upbeat.
"He was the most dominant closer I faced early on," said Skip Schumaker, whose Cardinals saw Marmol frequently as division-rivals of the Cubs. "He has a wipeout slider and a mid-90s fastball, so you couldn't sit on just one pitch. He baffled a lot of our really good hitters who never really had any success against him until last year."
Nick Punto, a Cardinals teammate of Schumaker, was equally impressed facing Marmol over the years.
"One of, if not the most, dominating in the game for awhile," Punto said. "If we can get him back to that, it would be huge. He's just got nasty, nasty stuff."
Said manager Don Mattingly: "I think about him in the playoffs and preparing from the hitting coach side of it, just power stuff and a breaking ball that, when he commands it, gives him two different pitches. I knew he's struggled the last few years, but you hope the change of scenery helps him and, at the end of the day, helps us. He still has good stuff with the potential to be nasty."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.