LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers got whacked by the Angels on Sunday, 10-4, at Dodger Stadium and suffered an injury to a promising young bench player. A first baseman by trade, James Loney made his Dodgers debut in right field as an eighth-inning defensive replacement and smashed into the right-field fence while chasing what became Gary Matthews Jr.'s inside-the-park home run. Loney ended up at the hospital to have a bruised knee X-rayed, but the injury was not believed to be serious. After the game, 24 Dodgers -- including Loney -- packed equipment bags for Monday's flight to Toronto. But not Jason Schmidt.
Officially, the club said there was no medical update on Schmidt, and the right-hander avoided reporters. But the unpacked equipment bag by his locker indicated he won't be traveling with the club on Monday and might not be pitching for a while because of his troublesome shoulder. Schmidt had labrum and rotator cuff surgery seven years ago, but the official diagnosis for the seven weeks he spent on the disabled list this year was bursitis. Nobody is talking about whether Schmidt needs -- or is resisting -- surgery, but nobody's talking about letting him pitch again with an 85-mph fastball and no breaking balls, either. "We want him pitching at his maximum efficiency as soon as possible," manager Grady Little said. But Little on Sunday started to sound resigned to replacing Schmidt in the rotation and went so far as to confirm that reliever Chad Billingsley was among the candidates to start if Schmidt doesn't on Thursday, his next scheduled work day. "He's one of them," Little said of Billingsley, whose longest outing in relief this year is three innings. "Whoever, we won't be asking a lot [of innings] the first game or two." Little would have liked a few more -- and a lot better -- innings out of Randy Wolf, Sunday's starter, but he continued a troublesome June trend by allowing a four-run third inning and was lifted after the fifth. He struck out only one, a season low, while allowing 10 baserunners. "My fastball was all over the place," said Wolf. "I was pretty bad out there today. It's frustrating when you're not pitching like a Major League pitcher. You could put a Little League team up there today and they'd have had success."
Wolf had a 1.48 ERA in five May starts, but he's accumulated a 6.86 ERA in four June starts.The loss dropped the Dodgers back to third place. They went 1-5 against the Angels this year and are 2-7 in Interleague Play with a pair of three-game series this week in Toronto and Tampa. "I'm glad they're not in our division," Little said of the Angels. "They were more than we could handle this weekend. We've got six games left against American League clubs, and we've got to be better." Offensively, the Dodgers actually saw a few positive signs on Sunday. Nomar Garciaparra returned to the lineup with three hits and three RBIs, while Rafael Furcal slugged his first home run of the season leading off the first inning against Kelvim Escobar. Garciaparra dislikes talking about himself, especially after a loss, but he acknowledged some satisfaction with the payoff from days of extra batting practice. "It would have been a lot nicer with a win, but it was a good day to see that the stuff I'm working on is working," said Garciaparra, who hasn't homered in two months but did double off the right-field fence in the first inning. "I was on the ball today, and that's important. I know you don't get out of bad habits in a day. It's good to get positive feedback." Garciaparra's presence is what has the Dodgers insisting that Loney try the outfield. He appeared in two games there for the Dodgers last year without a ball hit his way, had an eventful outfield trial during Spring Training and appeared in the outfield about once a week while in the Minor Leagues the first two months this season. He entered the game with the Dodgers trailing by five, and Matthews sent him sprinting toward the same scoreboard in the right-field fence that Matt Kemp crashed into on April 9, when Kemp suffered a slight shoulder separation. "He said, 'You're trying to be like me,'" Loney quoted Kemp as saying. Kemp took the blow with his shoulder. Loney got his hand in front of him and appeared to stumble on the warning track right at the point of collision. The scoreboard built into the fence has a rigid Plexiglas covering, but Loney said he believes his kneecap slammed into the concrete just below the padding at the bottom of the scoreboard. He wound up face down on the track. After several minutes, he was lifted onto a cart and taken to the dugout. After the game, he was limping, but walking without crutches. "I didn't think the wall was that close," he said. "I got knocked out a second. I knew I couldn't move. I couldn't see where the ball was. It's real tight right now, but it definitely could have been worse. A lot worse."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.