Kuo back to the DL; Elbert called up

Ten days after being activated from the disabled list, Hong-Chih Kuo is headed back.

The Dodgers placed Kuo on the 15-day disabled list today but have yet to cite an injury. The left-handed reliever, who has had four elbow operations, was expected to be the team’s setup man this season but has struggled to stay healthy. Kuo was first sent to the DL on April 16 with a lower back strain.

The Associated Press is reporting from Pittsburgh that Manager Don Mattingly declined to discuss specifics of the injury but said it could be long-term. Kuo was expected
to return to Los Angeles late tonight.

On the season, Kuo has appeared in nine games and pitched 4 2/3 innings, surrendering five hits, six walks and six earned runs for a less-than-stellar 11.57 ERA and 2.36 WHIP.

In his place, the Dodgers have recalled Scott Elbert from Triple-A Albuquerque. The left-hander has struck out 16 against nine walks in 14 1/3 innings this season.

Elbow woes shelve Ethier, Broxton

Tom Hoffarth reports from Dodger Stadium that Andre Ethier has been scratched from the starting lineup today because of a sore left elbow. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said the right fielder, who has an MLB-best 29-game hitting streak, is available to pinch hit, which could put his streak in jeopardy with just one at-bat.

“We’d have to. We’re here to win games even if that puts him in a bind,” Mattingly said.

Meanwhile, embattled reliever Jonathan Broxton will get an MRI on his right elbow after last night’s struggles in a 4-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs. The right-hander issued consecutive four-pitch walks to Marlon Byrd and Carlos Pena before being removed by Mattingly. After the game, Broxton and Dodgers trainer Stan Conte told Mattingly about the pitcher’s elbow discomfort.

Broxton’s decrease in velocity has been noted this season. One year after notching the save in the All-Star Game, he is 1-2 with a 5.68 ERA in 14 appearances.

In Broxton’s absence, Vicente Padilla will continue to be the first option to close for the Dodgers.

Broxton out as closer

KABC Radio’s Joe Block is reporting via Twitter that Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti has told him that Jonathan Broxton has been removed as the team’s closer.

For now, it looks like it will be the always-adventurous closer-by-committee, with Colletti hinting that the leading candidates are right-hander Vicente Padilla and left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo, who has been on the disabled list with a back strain since April 16. Kuo is eligible to come off the DL on Friday.

Broxton’s decreased velocity has been an issue this season, as is his 1.85 WHIP in 10 1/3 innings. The big right-hander suffered his first blown save of the season last night, allowing a two-out walk and single before an infield error and misjudged fly ball turned a 4-3 Dodgers lead into a 5-4 loss.