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DODGERS NOTEBOOK: WELLS BEGINS HIS SUSPENSION.

Byline: TONY JACKSON

Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO -- Dodgers pitcher David Wells decided Saturday to drop his appeal of a seven-game suspension stemming from an incident July 7, when he was still with San Diego, in which he reacted to being ejected by umpire Ed Hickox by flinging a ball toward the backstop.

Wells began serving the suspension immediately and will be eligible to return Saturday at San Francisco, although he might not start until Sunday.

Wells hurried off the field after batting practice, declining to discuss his decision with a group of reporters.

"If I did, I would just get myself in trouble," he said. Then, just as he disappeared into the clubhouse runway, he added, "I had no choice (but to drop the appeal)."

It isn't clear what Wells meant by that other than he might have felt he didn't have a chance to win his appeal. At any rate, he will miss his next scheduled start Wednesday at Chicago. Lefty Eric Stults, who is expected to be recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas after the 51s' season ends Monday, is a strong possibility to start that game against the Cubs.

After that, Wells' rotation spot won't come up again until Sept. 11 against San Diego, but Dodgers manager Grady Little said Wells likely would be inserted either Saturday or next Sunday against the Giants.

Another test: Dodgers third baseman Nomar Garciaparra returned to Los Angeles on Saturday for an MRI on his strained left calf.

The reason for it depended on whom you asked.

Little said it was because the injury has been slow to heal.

"He isn't progressing as quickly as we would like," Little said. "What it showed was a strain in his calf muscle. It hasn't competely gone away, and we wanted to do an MRI just to make sure it wasn't worse."

Trainer Stan Conte said the exam was merely a part of the process.

"We just got the MRI because we were starting to increase his activity, and we wanted to make sure everything was OK," Conte said. "It turned out fine."

The good news was the MRI showed nothing club officials didn't already know about, and Garciaparra might be on the verge of being activated from the 15-day disabled list for pinch-hitting purposes even though he can't run without experiencing discomfort.

September callups: Even though Garciaparra still is out and his replacement, Shea Hillenbrand, was hitting just .254 since the Dodgers brought him to the majors, hot-hitting third-base prospect Andy LaRoche wasn't among the Dodgers' first round of September callups.

That was mostly because LaRoche returned from a shoulder injury just a week ago, and he probably will join the big club on Tuesday.

"He just got back playing," Little said. "We're going to bring up some more people after the (minor-league) season ends."

LaRoche homered twice, giving him 18 for the season, in Friday's win at Salt Lake. He went 4 for 6 with four RBIs in the game to raise his average to .310.

Little wouldn't say whether LaRoche will take over the regular third base job when he gets here.

The Dodgers did recall pitcher D.J. Houlton and purchase the contracts of pitcher Jonathan Meloan, catcher Chad Moeller and infielder Chin-lung Hu. Meloan and Hu, who are among the organization's most prized prospects, will be making their major-league debuts.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Sep 2, 2007
Words:560
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