LOS ANGELES -- Jason Schmidt rejoined the club after attending the birth of his third child, but he's still a long way from pitching in a game. Schmidt was disabled retroactively to April 15 with shoulder bursitis, and since then, he's done nothing but let the inflammation subside. "At a certain point, I'll start the rehab from a strength standpoint," said Schmidt. "I'd like to rush it as fast as I can, but I'm not at the point to do that."
So once Schmidt is pain-free, he still must start exercises, then soft-tossing, long-tossing, bullpen sessions, simulated games and a Minor League rehab assignment before returning to the rotation. Weeks could turn into months. Schmidt had rotator cuff and shoulder labrum surgery in 2000, but he said he's never had anything like this. "It's one of those things when you get into a game you don't realize," he said. "The shoulder is always crunchy, but the adrenaline takes over. It's still a little bit hot, so until it calms down, I'm doing nothing. The achiness is not what it was and the range of motion is better, but there's only one ultimate test -- to get back in a game." Although he's been shut down less than two weeks, Schmidt said "it feels like two months," adding that the desire to make a positive impression on a new team adds to the frustration. "But no matter what club, it's your livelihood," he said. "It's what I do and I don't want to be in the clubhouse sitting around watching my teammates doing what they love to do and you can't do it. I want to show the guys I'm capable of doing some things." Betemit back: Wilson Betemit has described the difficulty he's had getting pitches to hit batting eighth, so manager Grady Little moved him up to seventh in the batting order, swapping spots with Andre Ethier. "I'm looking for anything that might be able to help him," Little said before Thursday night's game with the Giants. "This will give him a different look and maybe get him going. It's something I'm trying today to see if it helps." Betemit and his .122 average were benched Wednesday night against left-hander Noah Lowry. Betemit is 0-for-11 against left-handers. Meanwhile, Ethier is in a 1-for-14 funk himself, although he made a diving catch to rob Randy Winn of a hit in the fifth inning Wednesday night. The sight of Ethier attempting a diving catch conjured up images of last year, when diving catches in Spring Training and August resulted in a shoulder injury he quietly played with and was a primary cause of his late-season megaslump. "The play on Winn was a backhand and I have no trouble with that," Ethier said. "If the ball's in front of me, that's a little different." Ethier said the shoulder is 100 percent now and in the interests of keeping it that way, he's quickly learned to be careful around the right-field fence where Matt Kemp suffered a shoulder separation slamming into the Plexiglas protecting the expanded message board. "You can't force it if the ball's over your head," he said. "If you've got time to get back to the wall, you've got a shot at catching it. But if you have to run at full speed, unless you're 99 percent sure you'll catch it, you're better off pulling up and playing the carom and keeping the guy at second. It can be very unpredictable how it comes off that fence. There's like a ledge in the corner, and a ball in batting practice last night came off at a 90-degree angle toward center field." Kuo update: Left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo, sidelined since injuring his throwing shoulder in an exhibition game March 16 against Boston, had a 30-pitch simulated game Thursday and will join Yhency Brazoban and Kemp on an injury rehabilitation assignment at Triple-A Las Vegas. Kuo said the finger blister that pushed back the simulated game one day wasn't a factor because he threw no two-seam fastballs, the pitch that apparently was responsible for the blister. Little said Kuo is tentatively scheduled to make his first appearance for Las Vegas on Sunday. Kemp's rehab: Kemp resumed his injury rehab assignment with Las Vegas on Thursday night by going 2-for-4 with a homer, triple and four RBIs. He could rejoin the Major League club any day. Bobblehead curse: Thursday night was Nomar Garciaparra Bobblehead Night. Of five previous bobblehead nights, the only player to get a hit on the night his bobblehead was given away was Cesar Izturis, who went 2-for-4 on June 1, 2005. Jeff Kent, Fred McGriff, Shawn Green and Paul Lo Duca went a combined 0-for-15 on their bobblehead nights. Garciaparra singled in the first inning Thursday. Coming up: The Dodgers open a three-game series in San Diego on Friday night with Mark Hendrickson (1-0, 1.62 ERA) opposing Clay Hensley (1-3, 9.45).
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.