Just over a third of the way through the 2010 season, it is overly apparent: The Dodgers have been hit hard by injuries straight out of the gate.
However, hope is on the horizon. A perpetually depleted bullpen is starting to rebound from injuries to its main characters. Hong-Chih Kuo is beginning to find his form that enabled him to have success in his 2009 campaign.
Jeff Weaver, the Dodgers veteran righty out of the 'pen, has been heckled by numerous health issues all season. However, it appears as though his recent soreness will not force him to the disabled list.
George Sherrill is recovering nicely from a back strain that forced him to the 15-day disabled list on May 24. The set-up man made his first rehab start June 1, and reports were promising.
Following more work on Saturday, in which Sherrill pitched a scoreless two-thirds of an inning for Triple-A Albuquerque, the lefty is on pace to return shortly.
Cory Wade is set to start his minor league rehabilitation in the upcoming week, and may make his season debut in the month of June.
Vicente Padilla is scheduled to return on June 18, just in time to start against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. His return will necessitate a decision for Joe Torre. The skipper will have to decide between two young arms.
Charlie Haeger is coming off the DL following a rehab to firm up the healing process on the turf toe that has hindered his delivery over the last month.
Haeger's competition for the final spot in the starting rotation is fierce. Rookie John Ely has made a strong campaign to remain on the roster. His 2.54 ERA and .208 opponents' BA would be difficult to dismiss, especially considering Haeger has struggled all season.
Ely has also shown he has the ability to go deep in to games, which had been Haeger's number one attribute. A rubber arm will certainly be welcomed during a time of inconsistency healthwise on the Dodgers' 25-man roster.
There is still no estimated time of return for Russell Martin's veteran back-up, Brad Ausmus. The 41-year-old catcher is still on the 60-day disabled list following April surgery on a pinched nerve in his lower back.
Although Ausmus is able to walk around and even play a little toss, his back still tightens up on occasion, and there's no reason to chance it given A.J. Ellis' youth and versatility.
Finally, the Dodgers will decide the immediate future for starting third baseman Casey Blake. While fielding pre-game ground balls on Thursday, Blake felt pain in his lower back, and was immediately removed from the line-up. He will be evaluated on Sunday, after an MRI showed perplexing and inconclusive results.
If Blake lands on the DL, expect veterans Jamey Carroll and Ronnie Belliard to pick up the slack, and see increased playing time. Blake DeWitt will have to find an offensive groove; he will be called upon to be the every day second baseman in Blake's absence.
For further updates, fans can catch the Dodgers versus the Braves, with a marquee pitching match-up (John Ely 3-2, 2.54 ERA vs. Tim Hudson 6-1, 2.30 ERA) set for 1:10 PT at Dodger Stadium.