Kuo’s first game becomes turbulent

Times Staff Writer

Maybe Hong-Chih Kuo should have rooted for a lengthy flight delay. Or for his plane to be diverted to, say, Minneapolis.

After sitting through a 3-hour 7-minute day game with the triple-A Las Vegas 51s on Tuesday, Kuo learned that he had been recalled by the Dodgers. He took an evening flight from Las Vegas to Burbank, landing around 6:40 p.m.

The reliever rushed to Dodger Stadium, arriving in the first inning, and made his season debut in the seventh with the Dodgers holding a seemingly comfortable 9-4 lead over the St. Louis Cardinals.


Four hits, one walk, three runs and 19 pitches later, Kuo exited in favor of Jonathan Broxton. He had recorded one out.

“I saw a kid who came in here and the world was spinning a little bit too fast for him,” Dodgers Manager Grady Little said Wednesday.

Kuo called his harried commute “a little tough” but pinned his rough outing on being “maybe a little too excited.”

His earned-run average after his first appearance was 81.00.

“I’m not worried about it,” Kuo said. “I’ll get better and hopefully my ERA will go down.”

Little said the Dodgers decided to promote Kuo instead of Yhency Brazoban because they liked the idea of having another left-hander in the bullpen in addition to Joe Beimel.

Kuo, who was sidelined in April because of a strained rotator cuff, made only two of his five appearances with Las Vegas out of the bullpen but said that was enough to prepare him to pitch in relief for the Dodgers.

“I’ve been a reliever the last couple of years, so you get used to it,” said Kuo, who made 23 of his 28 appearances with the Dodgers last season in relief.


Catcher Russell Martin said he was confident that Kuo would quickly settle down and pitch effectively.

“He’s a high-energy guy and throws really hard,” Martin said. “It’s just a matter of finding that release point and getting comfortable and just getting used to throwing in the big leagues again. He’ll be fine. He’s just got too good of stuff not to succeed. I’m not worried about Hong-Chih at all.”

Said Little: “We’re not going to judge his abilities out of the bullpen on a third of an inning. I won’t hesitate to put him right back out there when he’s ready.”


Raul Mondesi blistered Dodgers management in 1999, his last year with the team, and so boos would not have been unexpected when he appeared on the Dodger Stadium video board Tuesday.

But, after reading here Wednesday that Mondesi was “roundly booed,” several fans e-mailed to say they heard far more chants of “Ra-uuul!” than they did boos.

Reader Josh Abelson, seated near Mondesi at the game, said the former outfielder signed autographs for fans and posed for pictures. The “Ra-uuul!” chants traditionally greeted Mondesi during his career in L.A.


Jason Schmidt threw about 50 pitches in the bullpen Wednesday, and although Little reported seeing “some life” on Schmidt’s pitches, he also could see that there was a way to go in Schmidt’s recovery from shoulder inflammation. “You can tell the stamina is not there because of the time off, and it’s going to take a while,” Little said.

Times staff writer Bill Shaikin contributed to this report.