02/18/11 6:18 PM EST
Kuo feeling great after throwing all offseason
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
And the only one who never stopped throwing in the offseason is the one who has management holding its collective breath every time he throws a pitch.
Of course that's left-handed reliever Hong-Chih Kuo, he of the four elbow operations and, last year, a record-setting 1.20 ERA.
"It's counter-intuitive," conceded trainer Stan Conte. "But there's really no way to explain the guy. There's everybody else, then there's Kuo. We didn't shut him down this winter because he was going so good at the end, we didn't want to change anything, so he kept throwing about 50 or 60 percent without stopping.
"We figured once he stopped, he might not be able to start again, sort of like an old car that keeps running. The problem with an arthritic joint, you don't feel it as much when it moves as when it doesn't move and you try to get it going again. At least, that's the theory."
Kuo played catch every day and said he's feeling fine right now, although history shows he encounters some form of elbow problem virtually every spring, even last year, when he started the season on the disabled list but made the All-Star team and then the Dodgers' record books, even saving 12 games after inheriting the closer's job when Jonathan Broxton faltered.
"We're going to work him up slowly to what everybody else is doing," said pitching coach Rick Honeycutt. "Right now, he looks great and feels great. I'm confident that he's open with us and tells us how he feels. He's been honest and he understands himself better than anyone."
Honeycutt won't have non-roster pitcher Dana Eveland for a while. Eveland suffered a "significant" strained left hamstring in the first sprint drill Thursday and manager Don Mattingly said he will be out "weeks, not days."
Right-handed pitcher Javy Guerra is behind schedule. He threw off a mound Friday for the first time since undergoing surgery on the knuckle of the middle finger of his pitching hand, the result of a dishwashing mishap that left him with a tear and infection. Because he encountered shoulder problems last summer, the decision was made to bring him back slowly this spring, even though the finger is now healed.
And the club continues weighing the possibility of giving Jeff Weaver a non-roster invite for a third consecutive season. Weaver would be a long shot to make the club and would need to agree to pitch in the Minor Leagues.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.