Kuo's agent says pitcher will play again
Left-hander on disabled list with anxiety disorder
PITTSBURGH -- Dodgers All-Star reliever Hong-Chih Kuo, disabled Wednesday for anxiety disorder, has no intention of retiring, his agent said Thursday.
Alan Chang of Octagon Sports Management would not elaborate on the treatment Kuo will require, but said the goal is to get him back in uniform as soon as he's ready.
"He clearly is focused on working to come back. That's not a question," Chang said when asked if the 29-year-old Kuo is considering retirement. "He does want to come back and really appreciates the support the Dodgers organization has shown him. Everybody is on board to helping him."
The left-hander was placed on the 15-day disabled list after telling the club he could not continue pitching in his current state. Kuo was activated May 1 after missing time with a sore back and the yips, the latter a disconnect between the mind and body that leaves athletes incapable of performing the most ordinary motor-skill tasks. In Kuo's case, that has been throwing a baseball accurately and confidently.
Among Major Leaguers that in recent years have battled anxiety disorder are Joey Votto, Zack Greinke, Dontrelle Willis and Khalil Greene. Among players that have battled the yips are former Dodgers Steve Sax and Gary Bennett, Chuck Knoblauch, Rick Ankiel and current Pirates broadcaster Steve Blass.
In 2009, Kuo spent three months rehabbing in Arizona before overcoming the yips and returning to help the Dodgers reach the playoffs. That time he was disabled with what was officially termed left elbow irritation, triggered by a game-stopping warm-up when Kuo sailed two pitches over the bullpen gate.
Kuo's most recent outing was Monday night, when he allowed RBI doubles to the only two batters he faced. It was his third appearance in four days, which included a game-losing throwing error Kuo committed on a routine bunt.
This came at a time when manager Don Mattingly said Kuo had convinced the club to treat him like a normal pitcher, instead of using the kid gloves that had been the norm since he finally reached the Major Leagues after battling chronic elbow problems that led to four operations, two of them Tommy John reconstructions.
Through nine games this year, Kuo had an 11.57 ERA. Last year, it appeared Kuo had finally overcome his demons, making the All-Star team and setting a franchise record for the lowest ERA at 1.20. He also led all relievers with a .139 opponent batting average, with left-handers going a paltry 6-for-63 (.095), and inherited the Dodgers' closer role when Jonathan Broxton faded.
Kuo has been in the organization longer than anyone on the roster. Signed in 1999 out of Taiwan at age 17, he has played for five Dodgers managers, five general managers and two owners.
He earns $2.725 million this year and will continue to be paid while on the disabled list.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.