"From what I'm told, if we wait a few more days, it'll be the same result," manager Joe Torre said. "He's not out of the mix, but we have to be a little more aware of his usage. Even earlier in the season, when he was lights-out, it's safe to assume there was no time he never felt something."
Kuo was the losing pitcher Sunday in Colorado, allowing four hits and the winning run in the 10th inning of a 1-0 loss to the Rockies. It was his first appearance in a week, during which he received a cortisone injection in his triceps muscle above the left elbow.
Kuo's durability has always been the worry, considering his elbow has undergone four operations, two of them Tommy John reconstructions. He emerged as Torre's primary multiple-inning setup man this year, supplanting Joe Beimel, and is 5-3 with a 2.14 ERA, throwing 80 innings in 42 games.
Torre said that Beimel, who has served as a situational lefty, and rookie Scott Elbert, could take over some of the appearances that would have gone to Kuo.
With Kuo out and Corey Wade having pitched two innings Sunday, Torre said that he planned to give Takashi Saito his first game action Monday night after missing two months with a torn right elbow ligament. If a long reliever were needed, it probably would be Brad Penny.
"If we're going to consider him for a starter role, he has to give us a few innings," said Torre.
In other availability news, third baseman Casey Blake, who left Sunday's game in the sixth inning with lower back stiffness, did not start, but felt well enough to take grounders. Blake said if the season's outcome was in the balance, he would have played. Nomar Garciaparra started at third base. Torre said he's still thinking about giving Manny Ramirez Thursday's day game off, but not if Blake is still sidelined.
Andre Ethier was out of the lineup for the third consecutive day. He left the club for the birth of his child and was expected to arrive at PNC Park sometime during the game. Juan Pierre again started and batted second.
Torre said that Jeff Kent has begun taking live batting practice in Los Angeles and running straight ahead as he recovers from left knee surgery, but still feels tenderness. Torre said Rafael Furcal's return from back surgery might not happen during the regular season.
"It's a slow process," Torre said of Furcal's recovery, which is in the Spring Training stage now, hampered by a strained hamstring. "Realistically, to get him into game shape, it might be the postseason, if we're a part of that. His being able to play a significant amount of time is a long shot."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.