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03/09/11 6:50 PM ET

Dodgers determining severity of Garland's injury

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Dodgers were awaiting results of an MRI taken on innings-eating starting pitcher Jon Garland's strained oblique muscle, but he's likely to be out as much as a month or more with the injury he suffered Wednesday.

"They don't tend to be short term," said manager Don Mattingly. "It's not a two-week thing for sure if it's that [oblique]."

Garland left Wednesday's game against Seattle with two outs in the second inning after delivering a pitch to Josh Wilson. Garland went into a crouch on the mound and after a brief huddle, walked off with trainer Stan Conte.

Garland said it was an oblique muscle on his left side and he felt it only on the last pitch. He said he has never had an oblique injury before but knew it when it happened. Oblique tears can take a month or longer to heal.

"It went," Garland said as he headed for the exam. "It felt like it was cramping up. It happened as I was pulling through and everything was coming together."

After going 14-12 for the Padres last year and being their Opening Day starter, Garland was signed by the Dodgers to a one-year, $5 million contract, plus an option, most notably for his durability, coming off his ninth consecutive season of at least 190 innings.

An $8 million option for 2012 vests if Garland throws at least 190 innings and is not on the disabled list during the month of September with an injury to his right arm. He also has bonuses for 2010 worth up to $3.525 million for innings pitched beginning at 150 and topping at 190.

His signing to be the fifth starter made it possible for Vicente Padilla to be ticketed for relief work. Padilla, however, underwent surgery on his arm for an entrapped nerve last month and is not expected to be available until May 1.

The Dodgers had multiple problems with their starting pitching in 2010, not the least of which was an injury-plagued season from Opening Day starter Padilla, who was signed the previous winter instead of Garland. Padilla went 6-5 but pitched only 95 innings.

The fifth-starter slot was an even bigger problem. There was a Spring Training cattle call of rookies and veterans. Before acquiring Ted Lilly, the Dodgers used five starters other than Padilla, Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley and Hiroki Kuroda. John Ely, Carlos Monasterios, Ramon Ortiz, James McDonald and Charlie Haeger went went a combined 6-21. Ortiz was released, McDonald traded and Haeger signed with Seattle as a Minor League free agent.

When the season ended, general manager Ned Colletti listed starting pitching ahead of a bat as his top priority, even though the club still had a gaping hole in the middle of the lineup with no power-hitting left fielder. Colletti has said the starting rotation on paper is the best since he took over in 2006.

Garland was making only his second start of the spring, one fewer than most of the other starters, which the club and Garland had said was by design because he didn't want to stray from his typical winter program of not throwing off a mound until he arrived at Spring Training.

For starting pitching depth, Ely has had a good start to spring, as has non-roster veteran Tim Redding. Ely is 2-0 with six scoreless innings pitched, seven strikeouts and no walks; Redding, who finished last season pitching in Korea, is 1-0 with eight scoreless innings pitched.

"They've been throwing the ball good, both guys," said Mattingly. "We talked about not needing a fifth guy until the 10th or 11th of April with the off-days. We'll see. We'll get a timetable when the see if it's mild or more."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.