After playing eight games over the last seven days, and enduring a two-hour and 10-minute rain delay Wednesday, the Los Angeles Dodgers limped into Thursday’s series opener against the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Dodgers’ bullpen has been taxed in recent games and the situation, at least on the outside looking in, grew more stressful amid Kenley Jansen health concerns. While Jansen explained what forced him to miss Wednesday’s game and was subsequently cleared to pitch on his bobblehead night, Howie Kendrick wasn’t nearly as fortunate.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said prior to Thursday’s game Kendrick was hampered by stiffness in his right knee after getting caught in the dirt. “Howie is a little banged up. Sliding into third last night [Wednesday], he kind of banged his knee and it stiffened up as the game went on,” said Mattingly along with adding the Dodgers wanted to give Kendrick 24 hours to recuperate.
Kiké Hernandez started at second base in place of Kendrick, who Mattingly revealed after the loss wasn’t available in any capacity. “We weren’t willing to use Howie tonight,” Mattingly said.
While Kendrick was essentially ruled out for Thursday’s game, his availability moving forward is somewhat in question. “I think we’ll know a lot more tomorrow [Friday],” Mattingly said. “He was stiff today. Is he going to get a lot better? It’s hard to answer that right now. There is a possibility if it ends up being too long we’ll have to do something.”
According to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, an MRI on Kendrick’s knee didn’t reveal any structural damage but the 31 year old couldn’t predict what’s to come if he doesn’t improve:
An MRI ruled out structural damage to the right knee of Dodgers second baseman Howie Kendrick, who said he will better determine the extent of the injury if it loosens up by Friday. If I don’t feel good tomorrow, I don’t know what will happen,”
If Kendrick is to miss time, it may place additional pressure on the Dodgers to further fast-track Hector Olivera to the Majors. The Cuban native was originally scheduled to begin playing with High-A Rancho Cucamonga after extended Spring Training, but he instead debuted with Double-A Tulsa on Thursday.
Darwin Barney is the only infielder on both the Triple-A Oklahoma City roster and 40-man MLB roster. He conceivably would be an option to replace Kendrick, however Barney was placed on the seven-day disabled list retroactive to Monday.
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