Dodgers

Kenley Jansen explains absence; Dodgers lose to Cardinals, 7-1

Dodgers' Kenley Jansen says mysterious absence was because of altitude-related symptoms in Colorado

Twenty-four white Dodgers uniforms had been removed from hooks, buttoned up and worn out to the field before Thursday's game, all except for one. The last dangled in front of its locker untouched, prolonging a mystery that had begun the night before.

Where was Kenley Jansen?

The man, and the answers, appeared in the clubhouse at 4:20 p.m., after his teammates had already gone to the field. He checked in with the training staff, met with the media and said the illness that had sidelined him Wednesday was no longer an issue. He declared, "I'm ready to go tonight."

Ultimately, he wasn't needed. The Dodgers lost the series opener to the St. Louis Cardinals, 7-1, their sixth loss in nine games.

The day before, in Wednesday's 7-6 loss to the Colorado Rockies, Jansen had been unavailable as four pitchers combined to blow a two-run lead in the ninth inning. Afterward, the situation turned strange. A team spokesman said only that Jansen "wasn't feeling well."

At his postgame news conference, Dodgers Manager Mattingly grew agitated. He reiterated four times that Jansen "just wasn't available," or a variation thereof.

And Jansen was even more elusive. He stood at his locker and whispered with a team spokesman, who then declared Jansen wasn't going to answer questions.

Then the speculation began. Was Jansen going to be traded? Was it related to his heart problems that required surgery in 2012? Was he suspended?

By the next afternoon, Jansen and Mattingly were willing to talk. The absence, they said, was health related, and Jansen has since been cleared.

Mattingly said he learned in the fifth inning Wednesday that Jansen would be unavailable.

About that time, Jansen was receiving intravenous fluids, relating to what he described as a series of symptoms that had him worried about his heart. He woke up fatigued, he said, and shortly before the game, his blood pressure shot up and his head and stomach ached.

"In the beginning, you feel like all that memory, all the stuff that happened to you — 'Here we go again,'" Jansen said.

He added: "The doctors just tell you that they don't want you to throw today. It gets you panicked a little bit, but at the same time you feel like you want to go out, but at the same time you just think about, 'Don't do it.'"

Jansen said the doctors were worried about an irregular heartbeat but later determined the symptoms were altitude-related. Jansen experienced similar problems in Denver in 2012. That year, he had his second stint on the disabled list because of heart problems, and in October of 2012, he underwent a three-hour surgery to repair the problem.

Jansen said part of him felt as if he let the team down Wednesday, but, he said, the season is too early to take a risk for one game.

"If the doctors tell you no, what can you do?" he said. "You can't fight them."

His refusal to talk the previous night, he said, was because he preferred to keep his health issue private for the night. Mattingly said he wanted to honor Jansen's request.

"For me, there's all kinds of reasons why you wouldn't want to talk about something, alarm anybody at 1 o'clock in the morning," Mattingly said.

On Thursday, the only cause for alarm was the score. The Cardinals used a Justin Turner error to spark a two-run rally in the third inning, and then added three more runs against Carlos Frias in the fifth to take a 5-0 lead.

Jansen watched the rest of the game from the bullpen — this time without controversy.

zach.helfand@latimes.com

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