Dodgers’ Scott Alexander hopes to salvage season derailed by nerve issue
Dodgers reliever Scott Alexander, sidelined since early June because of a nerve issue in his forearm, will visit an elbow, hand and wrist specialist in Phoenix on Monday in hopes of salvaging a season filled with too many misplaced pitches and one major regret.
“In hindsight,” Alexander said of a minor hamstring injury he suffered during a late-April series at San Francisco, “I wish I would have taken the 10-day [injured list stint] back then. Lesson learned.”
Alexander, who entered the season as the team’s left-handed specialist, tried to pitch through the discomfort, making 12 appearances before going on the injured list June 12 because of left forearm inflammation. He was diagnosed with a nerve issue and hasn’t thrown in about six weeks.
“The biggest thing is when I tweaked my hamstring,” Alexander said. “When you’re hurt, you’re going to compensate for it, find a way around the pain, and it destroyed my mechanics. That led to the forearm injury.”
The nerve issue caused Alexander to lose feeling in his thumb and forefinger, making it difficult to grip a ball. Doctors told him the problem may be related to the Type 1 diabetes he was diagnosed with five years ago, a condition Alexander treats with insulin and diet.
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Alexander, who is 3-2 with a 3.63 ERA in 28 games, hopes to be cleared to resume throwing or to embark on a definitive plan to begin throwing after visiting Dr. Donald Sheridan on Monday.
“It’s definitely getting better, but it’s hard to tell,” Alexander said. “The strength and motor skills in my thumb were kind of nonexistent, so it’s been a waiting game for those to come back. Hopefully I can get cleared to start throwing so I can help the team at the end of the season and in the playoffs.”
Kenley Jansen was down Sunday after pitching in the previous two games. Manager Dave Roberts said he spoke to the struggling closer Saturday night about giving him more scheduled days off so the Dodgers could better regulate his workload and test other relievers in different situations.
“It’s a luxury,” Roberts said, alluding to the team’s 19-game division lead. “It’s always a tougher dynamic when you’re talking about a closer because you want that guy available in a save situation. But when you have other guys who can support him, it makes my life considerably easier.”
The Dodgers will use setup men Joe Kelly and Pedro Baez in save situations. They might also extend the right-handers in appearances that last more than one inning in preparation for possibly expanding their roles in the postseason.
The primary goal is to get Jansen, who is 3-3 with a career-high 3.74 ERA in 45 games, with 26 saves and five blown save opportunities, right for the playoffs. Jansen gave up a score-tying two-run home run in the ninth inning of the Dodgers’ 3-2, 11-inning loss to Arizona on Friday night, and threw a scoreless ninth inning in the team’s 4-0 victory Saturday night.
“The most important thing is to get him consistent work, which we believe will allow for the most consistency performance-wise,” Roberts said of Jansen. “There are certain save opportunities that might be compromised, but it’s still a benefit for the club and for him to get that consistent work.”
To clear a roster spot for Hyun-Jin Ryu, the Dodgers optioned right-hander Casey Sadler, who gave up one earned run in 12 1/3 innings of nine appearances, to triple A. “It was strictly a numbers issue, it certainly wasn’t performance,” Roberts said. “He’s an optionable player, and we wanted to get a look at some other guys.” … Rich Hill (left forearm strain) will extend his long-toss program to 105 feet Monday but is still a week or two away from throwing off a mound. … Roberts said outfielder Alex Verdugo (right oblique strain) has not resumed baseball activities and will be out “for a couple of weeks.”
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