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06/30/09 9:19 PM ET

Stults pain-free after rehab start

Lefty likely to head to Triple-A for next test on injured thumb

LOS ANGLES -- A day after he pitched 4 1/3 innings for the Class A Inland Empire 66ers on Monday, left-hander Eric Stults was back in the Dodgers clubhouse before Tuesday's game against the Colorado Rockies.

No, Stults' visit doesn't mean his rehab stint because of a strained left thumb is over, but it does mean that Stults won't be pitching for the 66ers again.

Stults told reporters Tuesday that he believes his next stop will be with Triple-A Albuquerque some time in the next couple of days.

He also said that his thumb is improving, and that after throwing 59 pitches on Monday, it did not bother him the next day.

The previous time he threw in the Minors, Stults said he could feel some lingering soreness in the injured thumb the following day.

After dealing with the all the troubles that come along with an injured thumb, Stults has a greater appreciation for just how debilitating a bad thumb can be for a pitcher.

"When I originally thought about it, I was like, 'How important is a thumb?'" Stults said. "But when you really think about it being a pitcher, it's pretty important as far as being able to feel the pitchers."

But it looks like the hard part in Stults' recover is coming to an end. The thumb feels fine, and Stults said that he was pleased with how he pitched Monday.

"The first time, I didn't think my stuff was where I wanted it," he said, "but last night after the first inning, I felt like I was able to throw all four pitches pretty much where I wanted to."

And while he had a 60-pitch limit on Monday, Stults said that his next outing will be treated like a normal game. Stults said the needs to be able to throw 90 pitches to be effective.

Stults hasn't pitched in the big leagues since he gave up four runs in three innings against the Cubs on May 31. He was 4-2 with a 4.80 ERA in nine starts with the Dodgers this season before the injury.

David Ely is an associate reporter with MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.