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09/06/09 3:12 AM ET

Kuroda to make first start since injury

Los Angeles (81-56) vs. San Diego (60-77), 5:10 p.m. PT

LOS ANGELES -- Few people in attendance at Dodger Stadium will be able to relate to what Hiroki Kuroda overcame in making his first start since a line drive hit him in the head Aug. 15.

The fear, anxiety and adrenaline that are associated with such an incident would stay with most people for quite sometime. But Kuroda quickly brushed it all off and will start for the Dodgers against the Padres on ESPN on Sunday Night Baseball.

One member of the Padres knows just what Kuroda went through. Last season, Chris Young took an Albert Pujols line drive to the face, which broke and lacerated his nose.

That play occurred on May 21, and Young didn't pitch again in the Majors until June 29.

"By the first time I appeared in a Major League game again, I had thrown live to hitters five or six times with either simulated games or Minor League rehab," said Young, who had who had arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder Aug. 17 and stayed home in San Diego.

"By the time I got back, it wasn't an issue, I wasn't afraid of the ball or fearful. The first time I threw a simulated game, they gave me the option of having a [protective] screen, I told them no. I'm glad I did. For me, I felt like it was a one time, freak thing."

Young's sentiments mirror those of Kuroda's.

Kuroda (5-5, 4.08 ERA) has remained upbeat even throughout his recovery from a mild concussion and has insisted that it won't be difficult to return to the mound on Sunday.

"As far as I'm concerned I don't think it is," Kuroda said. "I hope it won't be difficult because I've heard so many stories about other pitchers who've been hit in the head in the past and could not go back and had to end his baseball career."

Kuroda also downplayed any possibility that he would be a little more amped up for this start than for others this season.

"The answer is no," he said. "My approach to the game is always the same, no matter what kind of game it is I take it seriously. If it was a playoff or coming off an injury, it's pretty much the same to me."

The same-old, same-old approach might work for Kuroda, but that mindset doesn't carry over to manager Joe Torre.

"I'm looking forward to that," he said. "Hopefully he gets through it without any incident and when I say incident I don't mean anything threatening, just that he's comfortable doing what he's doing."

Pitching matchup
LAD: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (5-5, 4.08 ERA)
Dodgers manager Joe Torre said he had Kuroda penciled in to start Sunday, and that was before Kuroda allowed one unearned run in five innings of a Minor League rehab start. Kuroda said he's fully recovered from the concussion caused by a line drive off his head. Kuroda will be dealing with the shadows during the Dodgers' a 5:10 p.m. PT start.

SD: RHP Tim Stauffer (3-6, 3.76 ERA)
In his last start, a 3-1 Padres win over the Nationals on Monday, Stauffer worked past five innings for the first time in a month, allowing one run in 6 2/3 innings. Stauffer showed good life on his fastball, striking out five. And even though he walked three, Stauffer was much more efficient, getting seven outs on fly balls and seven on ground balls. "It's about time," Stauffer joked, alluding to the stretch of five previous starts in which he went exactly five innings. "I still had a couple of walks, but my aggressiveness was better. I felt like I had better stuff."

The Dodgers share the league's top record with the Cardinals, two games ahead of the Phillies (77-56). ... Randy Wolf won his 100th career game Saturday night. The last player to record his 100th win in a Dodgers uniform was Derek Lowe on Sept. 27, 2006. ... Russell Martin stole his 59th career base on Saturday to tie Johnny Roseboro for the most stolen bases by a catcher in Dodgers history. ... Dodgers pitchers did not walk a batter for the eighth time this season on Saturday against the Padres. The last time the Dodgers accomplished the feat was on Aug. 17 against the Cardinals.

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On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• KABC 790, KHJ 930 (Español)

Up next
• Monday: Dodgers (Vicente Padilla, 9-6, 4.72) at Diamondbacks (Max Scherzer, 9-8, 4.10), 12:40 p.m. PT
• Tuesday: Dodgers (Chad Billingsley, 12-9, 3.86) at Diamondbacks (Billy Buckner, 2-6, 8.29), 6:40 p.m. PT
• Wednesday: Dodgers (Jon Garland, 9-11, 4.23) at Diamondbacks (Dan Haren, 13-8, 2.78), 7:10 p.m. PT

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