Rotation loaded with uncertainty

On a day when Manager Joe Torre conceded that Hiroki Kuroda probably would go on the disabled list in the near future, Clayton Kershaw walked into the Dodgers' clubhouse with flu-like symptoms.

Nice timing, huh?

Kershaw's illness translated into uncertainty for the Band-Aid of the ailing pitching staff, Jeff Weaver.

Weaver was named as Kuroda's replacement to start the series opener against the Chicago Cubs on Thursday -- that is, if Kershaw is healthy enough to face the St. Louis Cardinals today. Kershaw was sent home early Tuesday.

"Wait and see, as usual," Weaver said.

Scott Elbert was scratched from a scheduled start with triple-A Albuquerque on Tuesday and would be available to pitch Thursday if necessary.

Weaver said he knew he would have to deal with scenarios like this when he signed with the Dodgers as a long reliever over the winter.

Of his 21 appearances this season, six have been spot starts. He is 2-1 with a 3.08 earned-run average as a starter.

Weaver, who turns 33 on Saturday, said he probably wouldn't have been mature enough earlier in his career to handle sudden changes in his schedule.

"Having been through what I've been through has obviously given me a way to deal with different scenarios," he said, alluding to the World Series he won with St. Louis and a subsequent decline in form that resulted in his spending the entire 2008 season in the minor leagues.

Weaver has also had to contend with long stretches of inactivity. He last pitched seven days ago in San Francisco.

Weaver said he has started to throw lightly in the bullpen before games if he hasn't pitched in two days -- enough to keep his arm in shape but not enough to tire him in case he's summoned to the mound that day.

Based on his experience with the title-winning Cardinals in 2006, Weaver said the recent downturn in the Dodgers' form was no cause for alarm.

Weaver pointed out that the Cardinals had three losing streaks of at least seven games, the last of which came in late September.

"You never know how it's going to add up," he said.

Kemp also sick

Matt Kemp also showed up to the ballpark with flu-like symptoms and was held out of the lineup. Juan Pierre started in center field in his place and batted second.

Kemp had a 100-degree fever in the early afternoon but got his temperature down to 99 by game time, a sign that he probably will be able to start tonight on his bobblehead night.

As of Tuesday night, the Dodgers had sold more than 50,000 tickets for the game tonight, at which dolls made in Kemp's image will be distributed to fans.

Short hops

That Kuroda will be moved to the disabled list in the coming days is "becoming more apparent," Torre said. Kuroda, who was hit in the head by a line drive on Saturday, underwent neurological exams Tuesday that didn't show any abnormalities. He continues to suffer from intermittent headaches. . . . Will Ohman gave up three runs and three hits in two-thirds of an inning for Class-A Inland Empire in the first game of a minor league rehabilitation assignment. Ohman will go to New Mexico on Thursday and remain with the Dodgers' triple-A affiliate in Albuquerque until rosters expand Sept. 1. Ohman last pitched in the majors May 27. . . . The Dodgers' bid to land John Smoltz appears to have fallen short, as multiple reports stated that the veteran pitcher would sign with St. Louis today.


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