Notes: Gagne shut down for a few days

Dodgers notes: Gagne gets a break

LOS ANGELES -- An MRI on Eric Gagne's elbow Wednesday revealed swelling around the ulnar nerve but no structural damage. He has not yet been placed on the disabled list.

Gagne will not pitch for a minimum of three days and will hope anti-inflammatory medication resolves the latest problem with an elbow that has undergone two operations in the last year and Tommy John surgery in 1997.

Gagne experienced discomfort warming up in the bullpen Tuesday night, but pitched anyway, retiring the New York Mets in order in the ninth inning for his first save in nearly a year. But in his second appearance since April 7 surgery, his fastball slowed to 89 mph and he was noticeably uncomfortable on the mound.

Doctors who removed a sensory nerve running just under the skin near the elbow in April diagnosed this discomfort as emanating from the ulnar nerve that runs through the elbow. The tingling experienced when the "funny bone" is struck comes from the ulnar nerve.

"They said tomorrow it'll be 100 percent better than today and it'll be fine after that," said Gagne, who also had surgery last June to relocate the sensory nerve. "I didn't really have pain, but my arm got stiff after the fourth warmup pitch. It wasn't a sharp pain. It's nothing to worry about, but they've gone into the elbow twice in eight months and we want to be really cautious. The MRI was clean."

Gagne said it is believed that he "overthrew" or "turned over the changeup too hard," pinching off the nerve, resulting in inflammation that creates fluid. He said every time he threw the changeup, his elbow felt worse, and he could not get full extension on his fastball.

"I look at it as a setback if I'm not ready to pitch every day," he said. "I hadn't pitched in almost a year and tried to do too much. I've got to deal with it. I'm just happy it's not the ligament. It's hard to focus on pitching when you've got stuff going on in there."

Manager Grady Little said he's hoping the latest setback was a case of "anxiety on his part, coming back from a long time off and a lot of adrenaline flowing."

Assuming that Gagne is out just a few days, Little minimized the impact on the bullpen.

"He was not to the point of going back-to-back anyway," Little said. "We want to ease him back. He's not going five days a week."

Drew sits: Right fielder J.D. Drew, who left Tuesday night's game after six innings, was not in the lineup Wednesday night while nursing a tender right hamstring muscle. With a day off Thursday, it is hoped Drew will be ready to play Friday night in Colorado. Drew has missed eight of the Dodgers' 60 games.

With Drew out, Matt Kemp started in right field and Jose Cruz Jr. started in left.

Kent healing, Mueller not: Jeff Kent, disabled with a sprained left wrist, is making steady progress and Little said he expects the second baseman back when he's eligible to return June 13 in San Diego. Kent is swinging in the batting cage with no pain, according to Little.

However, Bill Mueller's knee is not responding well to May 15 surgery, and he will seek a second opinion from Vail orthopedic surgeon Dr. William Steadman. Mueller has had three operations on the right knee.

Catcher Dioner Navarro leaves for a rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Las Vegas for his right wrist, which was badly bruised by a foul tip May 4.

Shortstop Cesar Izturis, already on a rehab assignment with Las Vegas after last year's Tommy John elbow surgery, has begun playing his natural position after initially playing second base. Little said Izturis is "like in the middle of Spring Training." There are no plans to move him to third base. He's 4-for-18 at the plate.

Search for a cure: Little, Tom Lasorda, Nomar Garciaparra and former Dodger Robin Ventura took part in a pregame ceremony with cancer survivor Michael Milken to promote awareness for MLB's Home Run Challenge, a fundraiser to support the search for a cure for prostate cancer.

Coming up: The Dodgers are off Thursday and travel to Denver to open a three-game series with the Rockies Friday night, when Brad Penny (6-1, 2.62) opposes Byung-Hyun Kim (3-3, 4.97).

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