Dodgers visit Padres minus Schmidt

Dodgers visit Padres minus Schmidt

It was just a bullpen session, but if Jason Schmidt feels well enough to throw off a mound nowadays, it's worth noting.

The right-hander won't be pitching at PETCO Park this weekend while the rest of his Dodgers teammates meet the Padres for three games. That does not mean he isn't in the Dodgers' plans, though.

Schmidt didn't have onlookers oohing or aahing Wednesday, but that's not the point. Ten months after major shoulder surgery and a month after a Spring Training setback, he's making progress.

Where it leads, nobody knows. But the Dodgers are at least hopeful enough that when they needed a Major League roster spot earlier this week, they didn't move Schmidt to the 60-day disabled list. That would have meant he didn't count against the roster, but it also meant he wouldn't be pitching for months.

Instead, the club designated Eric Hull for assignment, so there is some optimism that Schmidt could be active before June.

In the bullpen on Wednesday, he threw 20 pitches, rested for four minutes, then threw another 20 pitches. With the normal ups and downs of a rehab, Schmidt wasn't sure what to make of it.

"I have no idea," Schmidt said. "I don't want to try to assess anything after what happened two weeks into Spring Training."

Schmidt thought he was crusing in his recovery, throwing all his pitches, probably throwing them too hard. He had to shut down for a couple weeks and now is trying to build back up, throwing enough to keep the repaired soft tissue from tightening, but not overextending. It's a tricky balancing act.

"I don't feel perfect, but it's a progression each day," he said. "It takes me a while to get warmed up, but once I get going, it feels decent. As long as it doesn't get worse. As far as an actual timetable, I don't know. I'm increasing my pitches each time."

Schmidt's pitches occasionally popped the mitt of bullpen catcher Rob Flippo, but the velocity is still a ways off from game ready.

"Sometimes, I'd do 90 to 95 percent," he said. "The majority were about 80 or 85 percent. I don't really know."

Pitching matchup
LAD: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (0-0, -.-- ERA)
Hiroki Kuroda will be making his regular-season debut after a spring of transition from stardom in Japan to fourth starter in Los Angeles. Kuroda has a varied repertoire, a lively splitter and he knows how to pitch. But his spring command was inconsistent and he sometimes was puzzled with a strike zone that varied from what umpires called in Japan. His most recent start was his best, four hitless innings against the Red Sox.

SD: RHP Justin Germano (0-0, -.-- ERA)
Germano won the fifth starter spot -- a spot he held for much of last season -- by outperforming the other candidates vying for the job in Spring Training. Germano has a nice curveball and fastball but has worked hard to refine a changeup that gives him yet another pitch to keep hitters off-balance.

Tidbits
Tony Abreu was scheduled to leave for Vero Beach and extended Spring Training to work his sore trunk muscle back into baseball shape. When he's game ready, he will be given an injury rehabilitation assignment with one of the organization's Minor League clubs ... Wednesday night's batting order was essentially the same as Tuesday night, except that Matt Kemp replaced Juan Pierre in the seven-hole.

Tickets
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On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• KCAL

On radio
• KABC 790, KHJ 930 (Español)

Up next
• Saturday: Dodgers (Brad Penny, 1-0, 0.00) at Padres (Jake Peavy, 1-0, 0.00), 12:55 p.m. PT
• Sunday: Dodgers (Derek Lowe, 0-0, 3.00) at Padres (Chris Young, 1-0, 1.59), 1:05 p.m. PT
• Monday: Dodgers (TBD) at Diamondbacks (TBD), 6:40 p.m. PT

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