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Kuroda gets cortisone injection

Kuroda gets cortisone injection

SAN FRANCISCO -- Dodgers Opening Day starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda received a cortisone injection in his strained left oblique muscle by Dr. Neal ElAttrache Monday in Los Angeles.

Kuroda, on the disabled list since April 7 with the injury, will not be able to throw until around the end of the week and there is no timetable for his return to the Dodgers' starting rotation, other than it will be at least several weeks. The injection was given with the aid of an ultrasound locator to pinpoint the affected area.

Kuroda threw a bullpen session Thursday with no issues, but stiffness returned several hours later. He said the area had improved by Saturday and he was convinced the lingering stiffness was not a setback.

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Eric Stults was promoted from Triple-A to replace Kuroda, who made only one start, winning on Opening Day. The Dodgers are 3-0 in Stults' starts, but Kuroda's extended absence could mean the eventual promotion of left-hander Eric Milton from Triple-A Albuquerque, where he just won Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week honors after a pair of outings in which he pitched six scoreless innings each.

Milton had an Opening Day escape clause in his contract if he wasn't in the Major Leagues, but he agreed to a temporary extension and a Minor League assignment to work on his arm strength. Scouting reports indicate that Milton, who missed 1 1/2 years after Tommy John elbow surgery, might need another start or two because his velocity tails off around the 80-pitch mark.

One possible candidate to be replaced in the rotation would be James McDonald, who struggled again Saturday night in Colorado even though he recorded his first Major League victory. McDonald has a 7.11 ERA. One problem with switching Milton for McDonald is that it would give the Dodgers an almost unheard of four left-handed starters in their rotation -- Milton, Stults, Randy Wolf and Clayton Kershaw.

The Dodgers also have moved right-hander Jeff Weaver from the bullpen to the starting rotation at Triple-A and he would be another option for the Los Angeles rotation.

In other injury updates, Jason Schmidt is expected to start and Cory Wade relieve Tuesday night as they begin their rehab assignments for Class A Inland Empire. Schmidt's return is undetermined, but Wade could be activated by the end of the week.

And here's an update on Brian Mazone, the non-roster journeyman that made a stunning run at the situational lefty relief job until the last week of the exhibition season, then pretty much disappeared. Mazone suffered from an abcess on his right buttock that became badly infected. The treatment required an incision wound be left open to prevent a recurring infection; that also prevented Mazone from pitching. It's now healed enough that he's back on a mound in extended spring training.

At the time it developed, Mazone had the best stats of any reliever in camp -- 10 appearances, eight innings, one earned run on three hits. And he put together the best spring under the worst circumstances, with his mother hospitalized with a serious infection.

The 32-year-old Mazone has spent 11 years in professional baseball, but not one official day in the Major Leagues. He pitched all last season starting for Philadelphia's Triple-A club at Lehigh Valley, one of the stops on a resume that includes five seasons of independent-league ball, one in Korea and the past winter playing in Mexico. He missed the 2001 season entirely with major shoulder surgery.

Also, pitcher Claudio Vargas remains on the disabled list indefinitely with a partially torn elbow tendon. Rather than performing surgery, doctors are treating the injury in the same manner as they did with Takashi Saito's partial ligament tear last year, with an injection of platelets taken from his blood to speed natural healing.

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

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