Dodgers' Kuroda steps up workouts

Dodgers' Kuroda steps up workouts

DENVER -- Ten days after taking a line drive off his head, disabled pitcher Hiroki Kuroda on Tuesday had his most strenuous workout since the injury and is scheduled for his first full bullpen session Wednesday.

Kuroda, reporting that post-concussion syndrome symptoms of headaches and dizziness were diminishing, sprinted with fellow pitchers, shagged fly balls in the outfield and went through the pitching motion on the bullpen mound while holding a towel instead of a ball.

On Sunday, Kuroda played light catch off the Dodger Stadium bullpen mound. On Monday, before the team left for Colorado, he was examined by neurologists in Los Angeles and cleared to step up his rehabilitation from the frightening incident at Chase Field, when the D-backs' Rusty Ryal turned around a 94-mph fastball and drilled Kuroda on the right side of his head.

Manager Joe Torre said Kuroda likely would need to have two bullpen sessions (one in Denver, another in Cincinnati later this week) before facing hitters in a simulated game, which would probably take place next week at Dodger Stadium. Torre said it would be up to Kuroda whether he would pitch from behind a screen when facing hitters for the first time.

"That's his call," Torre said. "We usually do, unless they don't want it. Some don't like it."

Torre speculated that Kuroda could advance from the simulated game to a Minor League game, if any of the Dodgers affiliates are still playing. The Minor League regular season usually ends the first week of September.

"We're looking a couple weeks down the road [for Kuroda to return to the rotation]. That's a reasonable guess," Torre said.

In the meantime, Torre said Charlie Haeger would make another start in Cincinnati on Saturday, one week after he tossed seven scoreless innings and beat the Cubs. He will trade spots with Chad Billingsley, who will be moved up to Friday to stay on a five-day rotation. Torre said Haeger would be in the bullpen as a long reliever Tuesday night.

The Dodgers are expected to start Vicente Padilla in Thursday's series finale against the Rockies, but because he's not yet on the 40-man roster, he can't officially be listed as the scheduled starter.

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