MIAMI -- Dodgers reliever Hong-Chih Kuo's anticipated Friday return from the disabled list is in doubt after he retired only one of five batters in a Class A rehab assignment Tuesday night.
"He's been OK. Yesterday was a little rough," manager Don Mattingly said. "We'll see if he's ready Friday or [if] he needs another rehab start."
Kuo, placed on the DL two weeks ago with a sore back that led to a relapse of the yips, was pitching on back-to-back nights for the first time this year after having allowed a run in one inning Monday night. In Tuesday night's game, he was charged with two runs on four hits with one strikeout.
Mattingly said Kuo's results were not the decisive factor. He allowed three singles to the outfield, a bunt single and struck out the last batter he faced.
"You can't go by results," said Mattingly. "Really, it's how he feels. If he throws the ball the way he wants, he's ready. We need him to feel like he's ready, more than anything else."
Kuo is eligible to be activated Friday, when the Dodgers open a homestand against the Padres. With closer Jonathan Broxton struggling and Vicente Padilla having made only two appearances since returning from arm surgery, the club was hoping the return of Kuo would give Mattingly more late-inning options out of the bullpen.
'Dangerous situation' to send Blake to DL
MIAMI -- Dodgers infielder Casey Blake appears headed to the disabled list with "some type of infection" in his left elbow bursa sac, manager Don Mattingly said Wednesday.
Blake was hospitalized Tuesday night and given IV antibiotics when his fever spiked. He would not allow club officials to discuss his medical condition or confirm if he had a staph infection, but Mattingly called it a "dangerous situation."
After Wednesday's game, Blake seemed hopeful that medication would speed his recovery and prevent another trip to the disabled list, but that wasn't the tone from his manager before the game.
Mattingly said he only had the "layman's" explanation, but said a worst-case scenario would mean Blake could be out four weeks because doctors might need to "open up and flush it out, and there's a period of time for that.
"We've got to be careful with what we do," the manager said. "You can't play around with it. We have to make sure we take care of it properly."
Blake, 37, started the season on the DL with an inflamed thoracic disk, missing the first six games of the season. But he's hit .321 in 14 games since returning.
"I can't even explain it," Blake said when asked if the latest setback was frustrating. "It's such a bizarre start of the season. I feel I've let my teammates down. I'm not with them. And we were playing good, too."
He missed a game Monday with a tight groin, and the elbow started to swell Monday night. Blake said he has no idea what he did to cause the elbow to swell.
"I'm sure he's disappointed," Mattingly said. "He had the injury this spring, came back, then the groin thing. The elbow looks like something more of a long-term thing. It's frustrating for us. He looked like he would be at full strength. But we've got to be cautious. Stan [Conte, trainer] is talking more like four weeks. It's more than a 15-day DL."
Mattingly said the most likely callup would be infielder Russell Mitchell, who is off to a very slow start at Triple-A Albuquerque, but "he's been swinging the bat the last week. He's a guy that plays the position [third base]. He'd probably be the first thought. It could be other guys too."
If Juan Uribe was healthy, the Dodgers wouldn't be limited to calling up someone with third base experience, but Uribe hasn't started in five games. Aaron Miles started his third consecutive game at third on Wednesday.
Mattingly continues to back Broxton
MIAMI -- The Jonathan Broxton talk continued on Wednesday, as manager Don Mattingly continued to defend his closer.
"At this point, for me, Broxton's the closer," said Mattingly. "He has one blown save. He hasn't been the Broxton we've seen -- dominating and it's over. But you saw Mariano [Rivera] blow two saves last week. At this point, I don't see any reason to hit the panic button and make a change."
Of course, Mattingly's options for a replacement aren't plentiful. Hong-Chih Kuo is struggling in a rehab assignment, and Vicente Padilla is going through Spring Training during the season after arm surgery.
Kenley Jansen has the most dominating stuff on the current staff, even with an 8.03 ERA. Nine of Jansen's 11 runs were allowed in two games. Meanwhile, he has 20 strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings.
Mattingly again emphasized that in Broxton's only blown save Monday night, his main mistake was walking Emilio Bonifacio. The two runs he allowed were unearned after Jamey Carroll's error.
"If he makes that play, we don't even have this conversation," said Mattingly.
The manager conceded, however, that Broxton still hasn't regained his two-time All-Star form because of command and confidence issues.
"He didn't walk anybody the first half of last year," Mattingly said. "He was getting ahead in counts, and that puts hitters in a little bit of doubt. Late last year, we didn't see the velocity. This year, we've seen 96, 97 [mph], but it's not always there. To me, last year was confidence. It's hard to measure.
"Look at Andre [Ethier]. He knows he'll get a hit, and if he doesn't get a hit his first time up, he'll get one next time. But once you struggle, it takes a little bit."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.