Pitcher Kuo scratched from scheduled start with elbow irritation

Hong-Chih Kuo is hurting again
March 5, 2008 11:27:33 AM PST
The Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander was scratched from Wednesday's scheduled start against the New York Mets because of irritation in the back of the elbow where bone chips were removed last summer. It started bothering him after he pitched two innings Saturday and a bullpen session Monday.

"I just felt a little sore," Kuo said. "I feel better. I'm just taking a couple days off and I'll be ready to go."

Trainer Stan Conte said there is no cause for alarm and no need for an MRI or X-ray.

But with Kuo's history of arm injuries, any setback must be taken seriously. He already has been through four elbow operations, including two Tommy John reconstructions.

"You have to be concerned just because of how many surgeries he's had and all that stuff, but all we can do is wait and see and get him on the mound when we can," manager Joe Torre said.

In seven professional seasons, mainly as a starting pitcher, Kuo has pitched only 265 innings.

He began last season on the disabled list because of a rotator cuff injury, something that started during spring training when he initially failed to tell trainers he wasn't feeling right.

The 26-year-old was activated May 3 and sent to Triple-A Las Vegas, where he pitched seven games between two separate stints in Los Angeles, but by June 30 he was back on the DL with elbow inflammation that led to season-ending surgery.

Kuo, who is from Tainan City, Taiwan, said he felt good entering spring training and isn't concerned about a long-term problem.

"It felt better after surgery, and this is just a part of rehab I have to go through," he said. "I'll be all right."

Though Torre said he didn't know when Kuo would pitch again, Kuo said he expects to throw a bullpen session Thursday and possibly pitch in Saturday's game against St. Louis.

The injury could keep Kuo from making the trip to China next week for the team's two exhibition games against San Diego and possibly affect his chance at the fifth spot in the rotation. He also was contending for the fifth spot last spring before he developed the shoulder soreness. Notes: Reliever Rudy Seanez, who has been nursing a slight groin strain, threw a bullpen session Wednesday and is expected to pitch a simulated game in the next few days. ... Shortstop Rafael Furcal will return to action Thursday after leaving Monday's game after just two innings because of hamstring tightness.