Back injury could send Dodgers’ Gonzalez back to disabled list


Adrian Gonzalez could be headed back to the disabled list after he said his back “started locking up” on him over the weekend.

Gonzalez said he would undergo an MRI examination Monday. He said he is playing with a herniated disk.

“I know what I have,” he said. “We’ll see if it’s gotten any worse.”

He said he first felt discomfort Saturday and told manager Dave Roberts about it after three hitless at-bats Sunday. The Dodgers removed him from the game.


“I just told Doc, ‘I’m not helping the team right now,’ ” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez, 35, played through the back injury as well as elbow, forearm and triceps injuries before going on the disabled list last month for the first time in his 14-year career.

If he returns to the disabled list, Roberts said the team could recall Joc Pederson from a minor league rehabilitation assignment. In that scenario, the Dodgers could shift Cody Bellinger from left field to first base to replace Gonzalez, then install Pederson in center field and move Chris Taylor to left.

Gonzalez is batting .255 with one home run in 49 games. His .339 slugging percentage ranks 108th among the 114 National League players with at least 150 plate appearances.

Roberts said he had seen “better swings” from Gonzalez lately and would provide him a fair chance to reclaim his role when healthy, but the manager would not guarantee that the veteran would remain in the cleanup spot, or even in the starting lineup, all season.

“When you’re playing well and you’re hitting well, you’re going to get more opportunities, whether that’s playing time or where you hit in the order,” Roberts said. “And, if you’re not playing well over an extended period of time, then, yeah, I’m open to doing what’s best for our ballclub.”

Feeling a draft


The Dodgers backed away from a trade for Aroldis Chapman after learning of a domestic violence incident. With baseball’s annual draft starting Monday, they are believed to have backed away from the top pitcher on Oregon State’s top-ranked team.

The Oregonian reported Thursday that Luke Heimlich had been convicted of child molestation five years ago. Billy Gasparino, the Dodgers’ scouting director, said the baseball operations staff has talked to ownership about Heimlich but declined to discuss what he called “a tragic situation” for all parties involved.

Heimlich, projected to be drafted as early as the second round, went 11-1 with an 0.76 ERA for the Beavers.

The Dodgers have the 23nd pick in the first round, and Gasparino said he is prepared “for the 10 scenarios we think may happen.” Baseball America projects the Dodgers will select UC Irvine’s Keston Hiura, who led the nation with a .442 batting average and .567 on-base percentage.

Hiura, a second baseman and outfielder, was limited to designated hitter this season because of a partially torn elbow ligament. Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who also is the Dodgers’ team physician, injected the elbow with platelet-rich plasma in January.

Gasparino said Hiura is “in our group of guys we like” and said he had been evaluated by Brandon McDaniel, the team’s strength and conditioning coach.


Short hops

Roberts said he expects Scott Kazmir to begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment “soon” and pitch for the Dodgers sometime this season. He said Kazmir, who has not pitched this year because of what the team says is a strained hip, is refining his delivery and working with a weighted ball to increase his velocity. … Reliever Sergio Romo, on the disabled list because of a sprained ankle, pitched a simulated inning Sunday and could start a rehabilitation assignment shortly. … Roberts said Kenta Maeda, who made his first relief appearance in nine years on Friday, probably would pitch again Wednesday or Thursday. That would make Maeda the long man in relief of Brandon McCarthy or Rich Hill.

Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin