Schmidt throws in extended spring game
Dodgers pitcher needs to build endurance for rehab stint
SAN FRANCISCO -- The saga of Jason Schmidt took another unexpected twist Tuesday when he pitched in an extended spring training game in Arizona instead of beginning a Minor League rehabilitation assignment at Class A Inland Empire, as the club had announced he would.
Club officials insisted the switch was the result of miscommunication and not an indication of any physical setback. In fact, Schmidt was said to have been pleased by an 89-pitch outing that ended an inning early when he took a line drive off his left shin in the seventh inning. He was not injured.
The reason given for the change in plans, according to trainer Stan Conte, was to continue to rebuild Schmidt's arm strength to the 100-pitch mark before beginning the rehab assignment. Schmidt is expected to make at least one more extended spring start before advancing to Class A.
Conte said the club continues to be encouraged by Schmidt's steady progress nearly two years after major shoulder surgery and seven months after less extensive surgery to remove the arthritic tip of the clavicle. Schmidt has not missed a bullpen session or start this month.
Conte said Schmidt is throwing without pain or stiffness, but loses command when he gives maximum effort. To maintain his command, he compensates with less velocity. The final hurdle to clear is to combine the velocity and command, which will be the goal of the rehab assignment once it starts.
Conte said Cory Wade was expected to make a one-inning rehab appearance for Inland Empire on Tuesday night. If he comes out of that without issues, according to manager Joe Torre, Wade could be activated and available for Thursday night's homestand opener.
Torre said he would prefer to use Wade as his eighth-inning setup man for Jonathan Broxton. Wade's absence -- and a lack of confidence in Hong-Chih Kuo -- has Torre in experimental mode, which led to using rookie Ronald Belisario in the seventh and eighth innings of Monday night's loss to the Giants.
Torre conceded he's not entirely comfortable with Kuo now in a game-deciding situation and wants to use him in a middle relief role "to give him a wider berth and get a couple under his belt."
Kuo was slowed throughout Spring Training by his balky elbow and has an 8.31 ERA in six games this year, with four walks and three strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings.
Torre said he planned to use Ramon Troncoso as his setup man Tuesday night, if the situation developed.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.