Chris Capuano injury: How long will he be out, and will the Dodgers notice?

Chris Capuano

Chris Capuano collided with Jason Marquis and fell down covering first base in the first inning. He wasn’t injured on that play, but stayed in the game and strained his left calf muscle running to cover the bag in the second. (Associated Press photo)

It’s too soon to know how much time Chris Capuano will need to recover from his strained left calf muscle. It’s also too soon to know if the Dodgers will even notice he’s out.

That’s because they won’t need a fifth starter – Zack Greinke‘s old spot — until April 24, manager Don Mattingly said. The Dodgers have off-days Thursday and Monday.

Capuano came up lame covering first base on a ground ball by Yonder Alonso in the second inning of the Dodgers’ 9-2 loss to the San Diego Padres on Tuesday.

“I took two steps over toward first, felt my left calf strain,” he said.

ESPN has the video clip; you can see Capuano start hobbling around the 15-second mark.

“I came in after the inning, taped it up real tight, tried to brace that ankle,” Capuano said. “I felt like I could sit back on it and push of but it was pretty obvious I wasn’t driving off that leg the way I needed to. The ball just wasn’t coming out right. I wanted to stay out there. I knew we needed innings, but I think we made the right decision. It was hurting.”

Capuano said he’ll get an MRI exam on his left calf Thursday.

Among other implications, the injury forced the Dodgers’ bullpen to throw the final seven innings Tuesday. Matt Guerrier (2), Josh Wall (2), Paco Rodriguez (1), Kenley Jansen (1) and Brandon League (1) did the honors. Mattingly said that only a couple relievers, probably Guerrier and Wall, won’t be available tomorrow for the final game of the series against the Padres. That should be OK as long as Clayton Kershaw stays healthy. Kershaw has thrown 9, 7 and 7.1 innings in his three starts this season.

It’s early to speculate about the long-term implications of the injury, but Mattingly mentioned Capuano and Ted Lilly as options for April 24.

Lilly threw 81 pitches in a rehab start for the Single-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes on Tuesday. He allowed one home run among seven hits in five innings, walked one and struck out five. The left-hander was responsible for three earned runs in a 10-1 loss as the Quakes committed seven errors (the box score is here).

“At least we’re in the position that you have a guy like Ted who’s been working his way back, gaining arm strength as we go, who pitched tonight,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “We’re kind of fortunate that we had the excess of starters. Cap’s not going to be an extended period of time. It’s going to be, even if it’s a strain, it’s not going to be a month, four or five weeks, something like that.”

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About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.