The Los Angeles Dodgers lost starting pitcher Eric Milton for an extended period of time after he underwent surgery Tuesday to remove a herniated disc from his back. The 33-year old is most likely out for the rest of the season.
The initial injury occurred sometime during an outing against the Philadelphia Phillies on June 5.
During the game, Milton failed to cover first base on a ground ball. When Milton returned to the dugout, he denied that he had been hurt. However, manager Joe Torre saw Milton grabbing his back and knew something was most likely wrong.
"He didn't cover first [that] night, and I followed him in here and saw him [grabbing his back], and he said he was fine," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "And then I asked him why he didn't cover first base, and he said he screwed up. But then he came in yesterday and he had tightness in the middle of his back so we just shut him down."
The left-hander was 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA in five starts after missing the entire 2008 season because of Tommy John surgery.
Milton was an All-Star in 2001 with the Minnesota Twins. In his career, he is 89-85 with a 4.99 ERA.
He was filling in as the Dodgers fifth starter and pitched well during his outings.
This is Milton's second stint on the DL this season. He was placed on the DL June 7 and remained inactive until June 27 when he gave up four runs on seven hits in five innings in a loss to the Mariners.
In his four starts prior to that, Milton allowed no more than two earned runs each game.
Torre announced that Milton would remain the team's fifth starter, but for the immediate future Milton would function as the long reliever out of the bullpen. Milton never made an appearance because of his first trip to the DL.
The injury further pressures the Dodgers to acquire an extra arm before the trading deadline on July 31.
Check back on Thursday when I explain why Ian Snell might be the best choice for the Dodgers as their fifth starter.
PJ Ross is a Featured Columnist for the Los Angeles Dodgers