A few minutes before 3:30 p.m. on Monday, Dodgers pitcher Brandon McCarthy strode into the Dodgers clubhouse. He placed an iPad and a bottle of water inside his locker. Then he reversed course toward manager Dave Roberts’ office.
A day earlier, Roberts would explain later, the Dodgers had decided McCarthy would not start Monday against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The team wanted McCarthy to rest his left, non-throwing shoulder, which he injured in the weight room last week. So the Dodgers placed him on the disabled list before the game and recalled reliever Adam Liberatore.
McCarthy (3-0, 3.10 earned-run average) disagreed with the decision. He described his shoulder as “fine.” He indicated he could have pitched Saturday in San Diego, when he was initially scheduled to start, or Sunday, when the game was rained out.
“If I had my way,” McCarthy said, “I would be pitching.” He added, “It lines up on their end, with the rainout, you can shuffle things around and buy me some more time.”
Instead, he will appear in a simulated game on Wednesday. He could return to the rotation early next week in San Francisco.
Alex Wood replaced McCarthy against Pittsburgh. McCarthy said he did not know, definitively, that he was not pitching until Monday afternoon. Roberts suggested there must have been a miscommunication, as he said he informed both McCarthy and Wood about the schedule on Sunday. In a subsequent meeting with McCarthy on Monday, Roberts said, the two hammered out a schedule for McCarthy’s return from the disabled list.
“Obviously, he’s not pleased with it,” Roberts said. “Because he feels he can pitch. And I respect that.”
The Dodgers intend to deploy the 10-day disabled list in strategic fashion this season. Save for Clayton Kershaw, none of the team’s starters are expected to log 200 innings. Hyun-Jin Ryu is currently sidelined because of a bruised hip, an injury that is not considered career-threatening.
McCarthy has dealt with a variety of arm injuries in his career. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015 and missed most of 2016 as he rehabilitated. The team wants to be cautious about his usage early in the season.
“It’s best for all of us,” Roberts said. “And I know he’s probably frustrated, and I understand that. But that’s a decision we, as an organization, have to make.”
McCarthy dislocated his shoulder during a kettlebell exercise. He indicated he felt no trouble while playing catch. He admitted it would likely compromise his hitting, but he did not think it would affect him on the mound.
Roberts took a different view.
“The player always has a way of looking at things, and that’s what makes players great,” Roberts said. “But when you look at the left shoulder, a ball that could be a comebacker above his head that he has to reach for instinctively could affect him. A ball that’s a squibbed grounder, a bunt, to his left that he has to dive for, that he reacts to, could affect him.
“When you have five other guys who are capable, right now, to pitch and help us win baseball games, to have the benefit of some extra days to strengthen [the shoulder], to heal it — as an organization, I think it’s the right thing [to do]. I understand his frustration.”