Not wanting to take any chances with one of their top starting pitchers, the Los Angeles Dodgers have placed Opening Day starter Hiroki Kuroda on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left oblique muscle.
The team has recalled Eric Stults from Triple-A Albuquerque to start their game on Saturday against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Kuroda first felt tightness on Wednesday close to the end of his bullpen session. The team sent him back to Los Angeles for a MRI exam, which found no structural damage.
In Arizona Friday, Kuroda tested the injury with some long toss in the outfield about four hours before the game. Then he went to the bullpen to try throwing while being observed by pitching coach Rick Honeycutt and trainer Stan Conte. He made only a couple of throws before ending the session.
Dodger manager Joe Torre said Kuroda lobbied him hard to remain in the rotation, but Torre would not have any of it.
"He wanted to pitch, but that's not the safe thing," Torre said. "He didn't feel good about it, but he understands the decision for the safety factor. Losing him for a couple of starts or whatever is better than something never going away."
Conte categorized the injury as "mild," saying Kuroda could begin throwing in four to five days. If this type of injury was serious, it could sideline Kuroda for a couple of months.
The placement on the D.L. was made retroactive to Tuesday, thus he can be activated by April 22nd.
Kuroda was quoted saying, "I pitched Opening Day and felt really good, so to not pitch really disappoints me. I was going to start, but I have to respect Joe Torre's opinion and listen to the trainers and do the best I can on the rehab program."
He also commented on wanting to return as soon as possible as to not put too much strain on the rest of the Dodger pitching staff.
Hopefully Kuroda can be back before the end of April. However, this is an opportunity for Stults to claim a spot in the rotation. Particularly with the troubles James McDonald suffered Friday night in Phoenix.