09/09/09 8:54 PM ET
Wolf scratched from Friday outing for LA
Lefty has stiffness in elbow; Kuroda to start in his place
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
The Dodgers, who thought they had a six-man starting rotation a week ago, now have a four-man rotation with the loss of Wolf and Clayton Kershaw, who will miss his Saturday start after running into the Dodger Stadium fence shagging fly balls Sunday and experiencing symptoms of a shoulder separation, although the Dodgers are calling it a bruise.
Wolf, on a five-game win streak with quality starts in 13 of his past 14 outings, said he felt the injury while swinging the bat during an Aug. 31 win over the D-backs, a game in which he allowed two runs in six innings. He made his next start Sept. 5 against San Diego, allowing two runs in seven innings in his 10th win. He's 10-6 with a 3.22 ERA and his .228 opponents batting average is seventh lowest in the league.
But during a bullpen session before Tuesday night's game in Arizona, Wolf felt stiffness and tried to compensate by changing his mechanics, at which point the decision was made to send him to Los Angeles for an exam.
Dr. Neal ElAttrache administered a cortisone injection Wednesday to calm "irritation," according to trainer Stan Conte. The discomfort is not in the area of the Tommy John operation Wolf underwent in 2005.
"It was a little tight, not a lot of pain," Conte said. "It doesn't seem really serious."
Manager Joe Torre said he was optimistic that Wolf -- a free agent after this season -- would miss only one start.
"The report I got is that he felt much better after the injection," Torre said. "We're concerned, no question. But the report we got back, it doesn't seem like it will be long term. Maybe a start."
Because of Wolf's complaint during batting practice Tuesday, the Dodgers had Hiroki Kuroda throw a bullpen session in the first inning of Tuesday night's game. Kuroda -- who on Sunday made his first start after missing three weeks with a concussion from a line drive off the head -- will start for Wolf on Friday night.
Torre said Kuroda will be followed by Vicente Padilla on Saturday and Chad Billingsley on Sunday. Jon Garland would pitch Monday at home against Pittsburgh and the Dodgers would slide Kershaw into the Tuesday slot if he's ready or need to find a starter. The Dodgers already have used 12 starters this year.
Padilla has delivered three effective starts since his acquisition. Billingsley -- who has had hamstring problems in the second half -- battled through six innings Tuesday night, allowing four runs on eight hits with three walks.
Torre and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt held a "long" meeting Wednesday with Billingsley, whose fastball velocity was down Tuesday night. Billingsley made an adjustment after several innings and was most successful throwing breaking balls.
"He's fine," Torre said. "We talked for a long time to make sure nothing was bothering him physically. Right now, he just needs a good outing."
Torre said he believes Billingsley's drop in velocity is the result of "trying to be too careful" and not injury. He said he admires a player who wants to fight through an injury, but not at the expense of the club.
"The guilt trip I drop on them, it's admirable to pitch hurt, but if you can't do what you normally do, it's hurting the team," he said. "I did that with Roger Clemens in the 2001 postseason."
In other injury updates, Kershaw reported improvement with his right arm, which he began moving while tossing on flat ground, although he still isn't using it to catch.
Third baseman Casey Blake has begun taking ground balls as he heals from a tight left hamstring, but Torre said he still didn't want to use him as a pinch-hitter for fear he would try to come out of the batter's box too fast and reinjure it.
The same seems to be the case with pinch-hitter Jim Thome, who received a cortisone injection in his healing left heel. He's now able to take batting practice, but the concern is him even jogging to first base and reinjuring the heel.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.