Dodgers Injury Notes: Utley, Hill, Kershaw, Ryu & More

Hill

You wouldn’t know it by the way the team is playing, but with 11 players listed on the disabled list, the Dodgers now have more injured players than they’ve had all year. And with nine members currently on the shelf, the pitching staff is far and away the most victimized part of the roster.

Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reported yesterday that of the nine injured pitchers, seven are suffering ailments related to the shoulder or the biceps. Righty reliever Pedro Baez was the latest to fall victim to such an epidemic as he was placed on the 10-day disabled list before Friday’s opener against the Giants with a bout of biceps tendinitis.

Nevertheless, better health appears to be on the horizon. But whether or not the team can maintain a high level of wellness—and win games while doing it—remains to be seen. Starting on Monday against the Cubs, a surplus of players may start being reinstated from the disabled list.

Second baseman Chase Utley will likely be the first of those players. The veteran has been on the DL since May 30 with a left thumb sprain, but he appeared to be near 100% while taking batting practice on Wednesday before a contest against the Rangers. There’s no reason not to believe he’ll be activated before the opener in Chicago.

Southpaw starter Rich Hill, who is coming off an impressive rehab start with Rancho on Thursday, is set to return to the mound on Tuesday. He’s recovering from a blister that has sidelined him since May 20. In the outing against Lake Elsinore, he gave up two runs—both unearned—and four hits, striking out 10 and walking none in 4 2/3 innings.

“It felt great. It felt normal,” Hill told reporters. “I would say my curve ball was probably the best it’s been in three years. My fastball is as good as it was in ’16 and last year. We made a few mechanical, small changes that made huge differences with the ball coming out of my hand the way that I want it to.”

With Hill, Kenta Maeda and Alex Wood seemingly in good health, the starting rotation of the Dodgers is starting to show a small semblance of the unit that began the season.

Furthermore, with both skipper Dave Roberts and boss Andrew Friedman in attendance, staff ace Clayton Kershaw completed a 55-pitch session on Friday that also included a simulated inning where he sat for a short period of time before he resumed throwing. One of the biggest concerns with Kersh’s back injury was his endurance across not just a high pitch count, but rather with the up-and-down nature of pitching multiple innings. The team seemed happy with his performance after his latest endeavor, and thinking conservatively, it’s not out of the question for fans to expect a return sometime in early July.

“A major league start is not the next step,” Roberts explained about Kershaw’s progress. “Making sure Kershaw is okay with next step being either a sim game or a rehab assignment.”

It’s still foggy as to when when rookie right-hander Walker Buehler, who was placed on the 10-day DL with a rib injury on June 9, will return to the big league rotation.

“Walker is feeling better with time,” Roberts added. “He’s playing catch. But as far as a timetable, when he’ll make a start again for us, I’m not certain.”

Hyun-Jin Ryu threw off a bullpen mound again on Tuesday and appears to be progressing nicely. This is an encouraging step for the lefty, who has been on the shelf since May 3 with a severe left groin injury. While he’s eligible to come off the 60-day DL on July 2, it’s certainly not an accurate timetable, as the club will undoubtedly proceed very slowly with the final stages of his recovery process.

While there have been some reports that lefty Julio Urias could conceivably return sometime after the All-Star break, there’s still a long way to go in his recovery. Even though he began throwing off a mound in late May, Urias will likely require a long rehab stint in the upper levels of the minors and will likely be optioned to Triple-A initially when he is activated from the 60-day disabled list. If there’s a need in the rotation, realistically, the lefty could be starting games in late August, if all parts of his recovery plan go perfectly.

Lefty reliever Tony Cingrani, who has been inactive since June 7 with a rotator cuff strain, may also be available for the beginning of next week’s road trip.

 

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4 thoughts on “Dodgers Injury Notes: Utley, Hill, Kershaw, Ryu & More

  1. That’s very good news regarding Hill, Ryu, and even Urias. Getting those three back would basically kill all talk of going after another starter at the trade deadline. Buehler will be alright once the pain in those ribs finally subsides. Him and Stripling have anchored that decimated starting staff admirably well so far this season. Wood better start showing improved health and stamina on the mound soon or he can go back to the pen and stay there indefinitely.

    I’m not as high on Kershaw returning to full strength because his physical problems run far deeper than a mere back strain. On top of that, if he continues to live in the high-80s/low-90s with his fastball then he better start working on a changeup AND FAST! Time’s already running out on him in that sense…

    Dodgers don’t really need Utley as much as they think, unless it’s strictly for pinch-hitting/running duties. Defensively, Forsythe, Hernandez, Valera, and even Muncy are way better options at 2B by comparison.

    Glad Baez finally got moved off the active roster because he still needed further refinement with his fastball command and secondaries (i.e. digging out his long-neglected PLUS curveball). 10-Day DL was the perfect excuse for him to do so in the meantime, lol. As for Cingrani, rotator cuff strains are something you don’t want to rush back from and the Dodgers should really give him another month before bringing him back into the fold just as a precaution. Same goes for Santana as well.

    Btw, Banuelos had arguably his best outing for AAA OKC yesterday against the Angels’ AAA affiliate: 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 6 K, 96 pitches. He’s now 7-3 with a 3.14 ERA through 66 IP (13 starts) so far this season. He’s also been extremely stingy against LH hitters, allowing only a 1.09 ERA and a .158 avg against. Could bode well for his chances of landing a job in the Dodger pen if Cingrani suffers an unforeseen setback in his shoulder recovery. Either way, Dodgers should have him on their radar right now if they haven’t already…

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  2. Thanks for the up date on our pitchers Dennis, considering all of those guys are on the d DL, the article has a positive sound to it. Looks like the team may get most of their original pitchers back, over the net few weeks. As Jeff mentioned in the last thread, it wouldn’t surprise me if woods doesn’t land on the DL for a little rest in the near future.

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  3. Good health could be a boon for LA, especially the pitching staff. A K. Herrera might be a nice addition, but I doubt the FO goes crazy and operpays for a Machado or anyone else requiring more than a couple top 10/15 prospects.

    I thought Urias was already in the minors when he went on the disabled list for his shoulder the first time. As such, he isn’t accumulating major league service time, or would need to use an option year once he is activated from the 60 day DL. Minutiae of roster management, but I was under the impression they lucked out since he was in the minors before getting hurt…

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    1. They could have saved his option by keeping him on the Oklahoma City DL and the big league 40-man. However, because they put him on the big league 60-day DL, they were able to create a vacancy on the 40-man.

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