On the eve of the National League Division Series, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly had a choice. He could keep 14 position players and 11 pitchers on the roster, like he did a year ago, or acknowledge the reality of his unsettled middle-relief situation and his Game 3 starter.
SAN FRANCISCO >> One day after Scott Elbert gave the Dodgers two left-handed relievers, Paco Rodriguez made it a threesome. He was activated Saturday from the disabled list, where he’d been mired since August 4 with a strained left teres major muscle.
Rodriguez has appeared in 13 games for the Dodgers this season, firing scoreless relief in 10 of those appearances. He’s 3-5 with two saves and a 2.52 ERA (20 ER/71.1 IP) in 100 career games.
Left-hander J.P. Howell has been the Dodgers’ southpaw workhorse, appearing in 64 games this season. Only eight lefties have appeared in more games in the National League this season. However, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has no plans on changing the Dodgers’ late-innings mix:
Paco Rodriguez has a bullpen session scheduled for Wednesday at Dodger Stadium. If all goes well, he’ll throw live batting practice Friday or Saturday. The next step would be for him to pitch in a game.
Those words could have been written a week ago, or even a week before that. The plan might not come to fruition this time, either. Each time Rodriguez has tried getting off a mound, he’s felt some pain in the teres major — a muscle near his left armpit — within 48 hours after the last bullpen session.
Rodriguez said he felt fine Tuesday afternoon. Though he might be running out of time to pitch this season, Rodriguez is planning on pitching a lot in October.
“That’s what I’m getting ready for,” he said. “Whether they make the decision to have me on the playoff roster or not, I’m going to stay ready.”
Left-hander Onelki Garcia threw a scoreless inning for Double-A Chattanooga on Sunday. Suddenly Garcia, who has spent the entire season on the disabled list to this point, suddenly has a chance to become the second left-hander in the Dodgers’ bullpen for the stretch run.
“It sounds like he’s feeling healthy and ready to go,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said that Paco Rodriguez was “a little sore” yesterday in the area of his strained left teres major muscle. His simulated game previously scheduled for Friday was canceled.
“He’ll have a couple of flat grounds and bullpens, so we’ve been set back a little bit with him,” Mattingly said.
Rodriguez hasn’t pitched since suffering the injury August 3, nearly five weeks ago. There are 23 days remaining in the regular season.
“I think that’s what we fight, is time,” Mattingly said. “We talk about him and (Clayton Kershaw) having the same thing. Kersh was like six weeks. (Rodriguez) has been trying to push the envelope a little bit to get back. I still think there’s time, but obviously he’s going to have to be able to get off a mound, throw sim games, to be able to help us.”
Rodriguez has allowed five runs in 10 ⅓ innings this season, all in relief. If healthy, he would join J.P. Howell as the only left-handers in the Dodgers’ bullpen.
Not only did he throw a perfect game, Rodriguez didn’t feel any of the usual soreness in his strained teres major muscle near his left armpit Wednesday morning.
“I feel good right now,” he said. “I was a little sore, but hopefully that’s the usual soreness.”
The pitcher said he’ll throw a simulated game Friday prior to the Dodgers’ game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Rodriguez had been having trouble the day after each of his previous bullpen sessions. The positive prognosis puts Paco on track to fulfill his mid-September return.
Rodriguez has a 4.35 ERA in 10 ⅓ innings (13 appearances) this season. He hasn’t pitched in a game since August 3.
Paco Rodriguez is expected to throw a bullpen session at Dodger Stadium in the next few days. It will be the left-hander’s second bullpen session since he suffered a strained left teres major muscle on August 4.
Rodriguez’s last bullpen session in Arizona went fine by all accounts, but the afflicted muscle was still sore the day after. The Dodgers are hoping for a better result this time around.
“Then we’re just kind of on the track of time,” Mattingly said. “Is he going to bounce back or not? Hopefully he’s going to be ready at some point this month.”
The Dodgers are at home until September 10 before they embark on their final road trip of the season, through San Francisco, Denver and Chicago. They return home September 22 and finish the regular season with six games at home. There’s still no official indication whether Rodriguez will join the Dodgers at home or on the road.
“I feel confident that he’s going to be ready at some point this month,” Mattingly said. “I’m not very confident saying that a week from now, five days from now he’s going to be doing something. I’m pretty confident he’ll be back at some point this month. I’m just not real sure of the timetable.”
Rodriguez played long toss in the outfield at Dodger Stadium under the watch of team trainers Monday. The left-hander has a 4.35 ERA in 13 games this season, all in relief.
“Putting a time on him would be tough for me. I don’t think medical has a timetable on him.
He’s still having some ill effects the day after.
“He threw a ‘pen the other day in Arizona. So he’s moving forward, it’s just a matter of when is he going to be able to face a hitter, turn it loose, without having to worry about it.
The next day, he feels something, it loosens up, then he’s back to normal. I think it was the same with Kersh too.”
Clayton Kershaw went six weeks between major-league appearances after straining his left teres major muscle in March.
A six-week timetable for Rodriguez puts him on track to return in mid-September. The minor-league seasons would likely be over by then, so Rodriguez wouldn’t be able to go out on a rehab assignment before he returns.