Dodgers lose game, plus two players
Pitcher Schmidt, outfielder Kemp leave after suffering injuries
LOS ANGELES -- In their home opener Monday, the Dodgers lost a starting pitcher, an outfielder, a game and a winning streak.
Outfielder Matt Kemp, bidding to take the starting right-field job, was leveled by the right-field fence and left with a shoulder injury. Then starting pitcher Jason Schmidt went out early with leg cramps that worsened while he covered first base in the fifth inning. And the 6-3 loss to Colorado snapped a four-game win streak.
"It wasn't a good day for the Dodgers," said manager Grady Little.
Schmidt, at least, is not expected to miss his next start. Kemp escaped serious damage according to the X-rays, but becomes a candidate to go on the disabled list nonetheless as the Dodgers expect to need a roster spot for the activation of Rafael Furcal, perhaps on Friday.
Furcal left the clubhouse immediately after the game with bats on his shoulder and a smile on his face, having passed a pregame baserunning test and heading out for two Minor League games.
"They're sending me down," he said of his rehab assignment with Class A Inland Empire.
Furcal was smiling, but there wasn't a lot of that Monday. There was, though, the typical circus atmosphere of a Dodger Stadium opener. The ordinary pregame routine gave way to the demands of a one-day media crush and pregame promotional commitments that included the ever-popular players meeting and greeting fans at the turnstiles. Batting practice was held early to accommodate a Taylor Swift mini-concert.
Normalcy returns Tuesday and, perhaps with it, the Dodgers' offense. When Schmidt went out, with him went the lineup's most potent bat. In his first trip to the plate as a Dodger, he slugged a home run leading off the third inning against Rockies lefty Jeff Francis. That got him even after the solo shot he allowed Garrett Atkins in the first inning.
Schmidt was wobbly even before the injury. With the radar gun again showing alarmingly low speeds the first two innings, he needed 31 pitches to get out of a two-run third inning that included Jeff Baker's RBI triple that hit Kemp's glove just as Kemp's shoulder took the force of his collision with the plastic covering in front of the expanded message board built into the right-field wall.
"When I hit, my whole arm went numb," said Kemp, who is bidding to take the right-fielder's job from Andre Ethier (Kemp is batting .429, Ethier .182).
"At first I thought it was worse than it was. I got some medicine, and now it feels kind of good. We'll see how it feels tomorrow. I don't want to come back too soon. It is my throwing arm. When I'm pain-free, I'll be ready to go."
The part of the fence that Kemp hit was padded last year before the offseason expansion. Now it's encased by a protective plexiglass covering, but apparently the covering protects the board, not the fielder.
"That might have to go," Jeff Kent said of the message board, which displays information about the current pitcher, while the matching left-field board displays info on the current batter.
Kemp collapsed on his back on the warning track as center fielder Juan Pierre returned the ball to the infield. Kemp left the game for X-rays, and Baker eventually scored on Troy Tulowitzki's infield single.
X-rays on Kemp's shoulder were negative for fractures or major structural change, but it won't be known until at least Tuesday whether he suffered a slight separation.
"He's a little sore all over now," said trainer Stan Conte. "What often happens is that most of the soreness goes away, but an injured area could feel worse by tomorrow. The main thing is we know nothing is fractured or dislocated"
Conte was busy Monday. An inning after tending to Kemp, the former Giants trainer was called out to first base by the former Giants pitcher. On the play, first baseman Nomar Garciaparra fumbled Kaz Matsui's bouncer. Moving to cover first base, Schmidt felt his right hamstring cramp just before he arrived and grabbed behind the leg.
Conte tried to massage away the cramp, but it wasn't happening. Schmidt gave way to Mark Hendrickson, who pitched three scoreless innings to keep the game close.
"I just got dehydrated," said Schmidt, who said he would make his next start. "It's something I've dealt with throughout my career. My leg feels fine right now. With everything going on, I guess I took it for granted and didn't drink enough fluids last night. I felt my calves cramping up warming up that inning. I was surprised it was the hammy."
The Dodgers' offense was 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight runners. Meanwhile, the Rockies capitalized on each Dodgers mistake.
Two runs resulted from the ball that Kemp couldn't hold. Another run was set up by Garciaparra's error and compounded by catcher Russell Martin's throwing error. A ninth-inning Rockies run reached base when shortstop Wilson Valdez didn't charge an infield single by speedy Willy Taveras, who was awarded second base when crew chief Dale Scott called a balk on reliever Joe Beimel.
Beimel and Rudy Seanez each were charged with one run in one inning.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.