Dodgers to lose reliever Kuo to DL
Los Angeles (16-8) vs. San Diego (11-12), 7:10 p.m. PT
LOS ANGELES -- On Wednesday night, Hong-Chih Kuo retired the side in order and looked like he finally was back on track.
On Saturday, he goes back on the disabled list.
The star-crossed left-hander has another injury to that left elbow that has already undergone four operations, including two Tommy John ligament reconstructions. He tried to warm up to go into Friday night's game for the eighth inning, and it was painful to watch.
Kuo made 15 throws in the bullpen, only four of them catchable by the bullpen catcher. Most bounced out of reach, while two sailed over the bullpen gate and rolled into the infield.
"It's his elbow, and he finally admitted it," manager Joe Torre said after Friday night's 1-0 victory over the Padres. "We talked to him and we're going to put him on the DL and get this thing right."
The Dodgers will need to have a replacement in time for Saturday night's game. There was no announcement Friday night, but the likely candidate would be Brent Leach, who was just optioned back to Double-A Chattanooga on Wednesday night after allowing two runs in 2 1/3 innings in San Francisco.
Kuo's injury made the seven innings from Clayton Kershaw Friday night all the more crucial. The night before, James McDonald lasted only 1 2/3 innings and Torre had to use five relievers. He's now used Jonathan Broxton, Ronald Belisario and Will Ohman back-to-back Thursday and Friday, while Jeff Weaver pitched four innings Thursday night.
That leaves Ramon Troncoso, Guillermo Mota and Cory Wade as the rested relievers for Saturday, when the Dodgers will really be looking for Randy Wolf to pitch at least as deep in the game as Kershaw's seven innings.
Kuo was signed out of Taiwan for $1.25 million as a teenager in 1999, blew out his elbow in his first professional game after striking out seven of the 10 batters he faced and it's been a wild ride ever since, including the first five years he spent trying to get healthy, when he pitched a total of 42 1/3 innings (averaging fewer than nine innings a year).
The year he signed, Kevin Malone was general manager, Davey Johnson was manager and Gary Sheffield and Eric Karros hit 34 homers. Each.
Kuo's journey to the Major Leagues hit one pothole after another. He missed 2003 entirely, was taken off the Major League roster at one point and could have been selected by any club in the Rule 5 Draft. When his rehab stalled for the umpteenth time, he had to be talked out of quitting the game. He has often credited Darren Dreifort (two Tommy John surgeries) and Eric Gagne (one) for their advice and counsel to keep him going. As recently as 2007, Kuo had rotator-cuff problems and elbow surgery and his career was in jeopardy.
He showed up for Spring Training in 2008 with a new manager, not really counted on for anything. He caught Torre's eye with two scoreless innings of relief against the Padres during the Dodgers' goodwill series in China and made the club with a 1.69 spring ERA, holding opponents to a .121 average.
Because of Kuo's injury history, Torre treated the native of Taiwan like fine China early on. When he used him multiple innings, he tried to give him multiple days off. In games when Kuo pitched multiple innings, his ERA was 0.38. His longest outing was 4 1/3 innings and in one game he struck out eight of the 11 batters he retired. By June, Kuo had supplanted Joe Beimel as the club's primary left-handed reliever.
The workload finally got to Kuo and he was limited to only one appearance from early September to early October because of triceps discomfort, missing the first round of the playoffs, but he returned for the National League Championship Series and allowed one earned run in three innings.
But when he came to Spring Training this year, Kuo's elbow was tender and his command in April hinted that something was wrong -- 6.75 ERA, four walks in 5 1/3 innings -- even though he had a 1-2-3 inning in San Francisco on Wednesday night.Pitching matchup
LAD: LHP Randy Wolf (1-1, 4.31 ERA)
Wolf finished with a no-decision against the Giants in his last start but deserved a better fate than to be charged for three runs in six innings. All of the runs were of the tough-luck variety, as two balls were misplayed in the windy outfield during a three-run first inning. Wolf didn't allow a runner past second base in the other five innings and he didn't walk a batter. He recorded a 4-2 loss against the Padres in the second game of the season. SD: RHP Chris Young (2-1, 5.74 ERA)
Young had the worst April of his career, though his first month can be cautiously viewed as "up and down." The ups were out of sight, a pair of seven-inning performances in which he gave up no earned runs. However, he bottomed out in his most recent start, giving up a career-high eight runs in three-plus innings at Coors Field. The Rockies took advantage of the 6-foot-10 right-hander's long delivery and recorded eight steals, five by Dexter Fowler alone. Young beat the Dodgers in his first start this year, tossing six innings of two-run ball on April 7. He owns a career 3.93 ERA versus Los Angeles in 12 starts. Tidbits
Clayton Kershaw has allowed just one run over 14 innings at home this year. ... The Dodgers won on Friday despite getting just three hits. ... Rafael Furcal's ninth-inning single on Friday meant he's reached base in all 22 games he's played this year. ... Jonathan Broxton is now 3-0 with a 0.75 ERA and in 12 innings has 21 strikeouts with only two hits allowed. ... The Dodgers will hold a groundbreaking ceremony Saturday for their ninth Dodgers Dreamfield in Pasadena, Calif. Tickets
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Sunday: Dodgers (Chad Billingsley, 4-0, 2.14) vs. Padres (Chad Gaudin, 0-0, 0.00), 1:10 p.m. PT
Monday: Dodgers (Eric Stults, 2-1, 5.50) vs. Diamondbacks (Doug Davis, 2-3, 2.91), 7:10 p.m. PT
Tuesday: Dodgers (James McDonald, 1-1, 8.16) vs. Diamondbacks (Max Scherzer, 0-2, 3.48), 7:10 p.m. PT
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.