Medical update is a mixed bag

Times Staff Writer

CINCINNATI -- Another day, another setback for the Dodgers’ injury-plagued pitching staff.

This time the bad news centered on reliever Chin-hui Tsao, who was left behind in Los Angeles to have orthopedic surgeon Lewis Yocum examine his sore right shoulder.

“We thought he was doing well enough to start [throwing],” Dodgers trainer Stan Conte said. “But he’s not going to start it yet.”

Tsao, on the disabled list because of shoulder problems for the second time this season, was scheduled to travel with the team to Cincinnati and St. Louis to begin working out under Conte’s direction. Now his immediate future is uncertain.


“We’ll have to see what Dr. Yocum has to say,” Conte said.

Rookie infielder Tony Abreu is also in Los Angeles, where he has undergone two days of examinations with Dr. Craig Smith, a specialist in abdominal injuries.

Abreu, who hasn’t played since experiencing severe abdominal cramps three weeks ago, has been throwing, hitting and fielding during batting practice with the Dodgers’ triple-A team in Las Vegas. But despite the fact Abreu has been subjected to a battery of tests, doctors have been unable to find the cause of his pain and are now exploring the possibility it could be a sports hernia.

But the Dodgers also got some good news on the injury front Tuesday: left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo, who had surgery to remove a bone chip from his elbow, could begin throwing this week and right-hander Derek Lowe is expected to start again Saturday after taking an extra two days off to rest a painful left hip.


“The season’s getting older, so we really can’t afford to move too fast and have any kind of setback,” Conte said of Kuo, who had two Tommy John surgeries in the minors and has spent most of this season on the disabled list because of rotator cuff and elbow problems. “We keep telling him he’s going to throw soon. We’re just waiting for that elbow to calm down 100% before we start throwing.”

As for Lowe, who gave up four runs in five innings in his last start, Monday’s day off gave Manager Grady Little a chance to tinker with the rotation, pushing Lowe back two days and inserting Brett Tomko in Lowe’s normal spot Thursday.

“We have a chance to allot him a day or two more. And so we’re going to take it,” Little said of Lowe, who said he felt “excellent” after performing a series of agility exercises Tuesday.

Chad Billingsley, from Ohio’s Defiance High, will pitch in his home state tonight for the first time as a major leaguer. And while that makes the start more than just another game, the young right-hander said the chance to pitch against the Reds is not that big deal.

“I was an Atlanta Braves fan,” said Billingsley, whose parents and a few cousins will be at the game tonight. “I was never a Cincinnati Reds fan. We went to a couple of Cleveland Indians games, but that was about it.”

The Dodgers are honoring the memory of minor league hitting coach Bill Robinson, who died last month at age 64, by having each of their minor league affiliates wear a patch with Robinson’s initials on their sleeves.

“This is a gesture of recognition for the body of work that Bill has accomplished in the game of baseball and with the Dodger organization, as well as a sign of respect to the man and his family,” said De Jon Watson, the team’s director of player development.