Notes: Guzman gets Major shot

Notes: Guzman gets Major shot

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodger youth movement was accelerated a little more Thursday when 38-year-old Jeff Kent was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained wrist and replaced by 21-year-old Joel Guzman, the eighth rookie on the current 25-man roster.

"There's nothing you can do," manager Grady Little said of mounting injuries and the opportunities they create. "You get somebody else and keep going."

Guzman, until this spring an oversized shortstop, has been playing left field, first base and third base at Triple-A Las Vegas, where he was hitting .291 with six home runs and 33 RBIs. He also has 42 strikeouts and 15 walks in 196 at-bats.

Ironically, his defensive versatility is what brought him to the big leagues now, with Kent joining third baseman Bill Mueller on the disabled list. Little said that on days when Guzman goes into the lineup, it will likely be at third base, with Willy Aybar moving over to second base.

And all of that figures to be temporary, either because Kent's injury really is minor and he will return around the June 12 date he is eligible or Gold Glove shortstop Cesar Izturis returns as a logical replacement at second base if the Triple-A rehab assignment he started Thursday night in Las Vegas goes smoothly.

The real discouraging news is that Kent's injury continues a trend that started last year and hasn't stopped. At this time last year, when the Dodgers thought they were completely snake-bit, they had incurred 11 disabling injuries. This year it's the same, 11.

Kent's injury is additionally troubling because it's a wrist and the Dodgers need look no further than Jayson Werth, who's into his 16th month with a wrist injury and not really any closer to playing now than the day he was injured.

Kent suffered his injury on a swing Saturday in Washington. The pain starts where hand meets wrist and is referred toward the index and middle finger on the top of the hand. He said it felt better by Sunday, but the progress stalled and a cortisone injection provided no relief. He had been taking ground balls and tried to swing a bat, but now is shutting down all baseball activities for three days.

"I don't see it being long," said Kent. "There's no big tear or fracture. I hope it's just a bad sprain that'll take a few days to heal."

Kent had been replaced at second base by utilityman Ramon Martinez, but he was a late scratch Thursday night because of a bruised left foot suffered when he fouled a pitch off it Wednesday night. Aybar, originally playing third, was moved to second and Olmedo Saenz started at third base.

Had Guzman arrived early enough, he might have taken Saenz's spot. He was not expected at reach Dodger Stadium from Las Vegas until around game time, but his arrival in the big leagues has been eagerly awaited for several years.

At 6-foot-6, he was considered too tall to handle the quick movements needed from a shortstop and this spring the staff sent him to left field. But in recent weeks, and particularly after Mueller went down, Guzman's time has been increasingly spent at the infield corners.

"He'll get an opportunity to play third base," Little said of Guzman. "He's a super human being. Every time he goes to the plate something can happen and something good can happen. He has a lot of talent. We've been impressed with the way he's handled everything. He'll have an opportunity to show us what he's learned."

Gagne eager: Claiming he's finally healthy after two seasons of elbow woes, Eric Gagne rejoined the club and said he couldn't wait for his first save.

"I'm anxious, I'm excited. It's like the first day of school," said Gagne. "I finally feel good throwing the ball. My stuff's good, the ball is jumping out of my hand. I'm here to close. I'm ready to close."

More injury update: Little said Mueller is healing "slowly" from May 16 right knee surgery, which can be interpreted to mean the five-week prognosis for his return might have been overly optimistic. Mueller, 35, has had three operations on that knee. Mueller, who has been recovering at home in Arizona, is scheduled to have the knee evaluated by Dodgers doctors Friday.

Catcher Dioner Navarro began hitting off a tee Thursday with his healing bruised right wrist, but outfielder Ricky Ledee had a "setback" with his pulled groin muscle and will receive a cortisone injection Friday. Jason Repko still has a sprained ankle in a cast, so he's probably a month away. And Little said there was nothing new with Werth.

Player is named: The Dodgers received left-handed reliever Ben Kozlowski from the Reds, the player to be named to complete the April 24 trade for Cody Ross. Kozlowski was 2-1 with a 1.17 ERA in 10 games at Double-A Chattanooga and 0-2 with a 12.54 ERA in seven games at Triple-A Louisville.

Lofton clinic: Outfielder Kenny Lofton hosts a clinic Friday at MLB's Urban Youth Academy in Compton that will include a tutorial from Dodger team photographer Jon SooHoo, presented by Canon, beginning at 11:15 a.m. PT.

Coming up: Jae Seo (2-3, 5.36 ERA) opposes Ryan Madson (5-3, 5.71 ERA) on Friday night.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.