Schmidt heads back to disabled list
Dodgers ace's velocity still down after previous DL stint
TORONTO -- Before leaving Monday on a three-city trip, the Dodgers again disabled pitcher Jason Schmidt and activated utilityman Marlon Anderson, who had been on a Minor League rehabilitation assignment following elbow surgery.
Schmidt was scheduled to have his right shoulder examined Monday by Dr. Neal ElAttrache at the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic to determine if surgery is necessary to solve his season-long ordeal. Monday's move followed Schmidt's Saturday start, after which he admitted that the condition of his shoulder had not changed since his first pitch of Spring Training.
Signed to a three-year, $47 million free-agent contract in December, Schmidt is 1-4 with a 6.31 ERA. He has lacked his customary fastball velocity and now is reluctant to throw breaking balls as well. His fastball was consistently clocked in the mid-80s Saturday and never more than 88 mph.
He pitched that way through Spring Training and three April starts before spending seven weeks on the disabled list with what was announced as bursitis. Six scoreless innings in his first start back gave the club hope, but he's regressed in two starts since. Schmidt escaped repeated jams in the first four innings Saturday, but as soon as he allowed a two-run single in the fifth, manager Grady Little yanked him.
Schmidt was scheduled to pitch again Thursday night. Little has not announced who will be inserted into the rotation or when, but a likely candidate is reliever Chad Billingsley, who has been a key middle reliever all season. Brett Tomko and Mark Hendrickson also might be considered. The moves returned the Dodgers pitching staff to 11.
This is the sixth time in his Major League career that Schmidt has been disabled with a shoulder injury. Monday's exam is expected to explore possible structural damage; Schmidt had labrum and rotator cuff surgery after the 2000 season.
Anderson's return is ahead of schedule. On May 11, he underwent surgery to remove bone chips and scar tissue in his throwing elbow for the second time in seven months. He was expected to miss two months, but returned fast and has been playing at Triple-A Las Vegas waiting for a roster spot to open.
When healthy, as he showed last year during the pennant stretch, Anderson is a skilled left-handed pinch-hitter with power and is capable of playing for extended stretches in the infield or outfield. The club has lacked a credible fifth outfielder since designating Brady Clark for assignment last weekend. Clark is expected to be granted his release this week.
The outfielder shortage led the Dodgers to experiment with first baseman James Loney in right field Sunday and the results were nearly disastrous. Chasing the first ball hit his way as a Major League outfielder, Loney crashed into the right-field fence while Gary Matthews Jr. circled the bases for an inside-the-park homer. Loney, who escaped with a bruised knee, was replaced for the rest of the game by infielder Wilson Betemit, who had never played the outfield previously at any professional level.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.