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Gagne Sure He’ll Return

Times Staff Writer

The Dodgers and Eric Gagne were not on the same page Saturday, such as when Manager Grady Little told reporters that the club was uncertain of Gagne’s whereabouts although, unbeknown to Little, Gagne had slipped into the clubhouse.

And when Little said the Dodgers were working under the assumption that Gagne would not pitch again this season but Gagne said, “I’m 100% sure I will.”

All this played out in the 90 minutes before a 9-2 loss to the Angels in Angel Stadium, a day after Gagne had canceled a scheduled throwing session because he wasn’t ready to take the next step in his recovery from an elbow injury.

Little on Friday had called that development a “setback.” Gagne on Saturday said it was more like a “slow graduation.” By any description, it was discouraging news to Little, who said the Dodgers couldn’t be certain that Gagne would return this season.

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“We can’t schedule our plans accordingly, if you know what I mean,” Little said. “We can’t sit here and wait and wait and wait, especially when there’s no news of him even being able to play catch just yet. That’s not very encouraging.”

Because of nerve pain in his right elbow, Gagne has pitched only two innings this season, one inning each June 2 and June 6. He attended a physical therapy session as scheduled Friday in Los Angeles but did not believe he had made enough progress to proceed.

The Dodgers knew this only because a therapist told trainer Stan Johnston, but as of about noon Saturday neither Little nor Johnston had heard from Gagne. Little was in the dugout when Gagne turned up in the clubhouse during batting practice.

“My arm’s not 100% yet,” Gagne said of his reason for calling off Friday’s throwing session. “I still feel a little discomfort in there when I do weights.... Until I can go up to pretty much full speed, I’ve got to wait.”

The reliever compared the discomfort to “a little bruise” but said that his elbow was responding and vowed to pitch again before season’s end.

“That’s what I work toward every day,” Gagne said.

*

Mark Hendrickson, acquired last week in a trade with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, took the loss in his Dodgers debut, made a throwing error in the third inning and was hit in the left arm by a Vladimir Guerrero line drive in the fifth.

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“Tough outing,” said the 6-foot-9 left-hander, who in five innings gave up seven hits and five runs, one earned, while striking out two and walking two.

He pitched to only one more batter after Guerrero’s line drive hit him, but he wanted to continue. His biceps stiffened later, Hendrickson said, but he added that he expected to be available for his next scheduled start Thursday night.


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