Dodgers slowing down Fife's throwing program

Dodgers slowing down Fife's throwing program

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers pitcher Stephen Fife is healthy right now, and he wants to keep it that way.

So as a precautionary measure, Fife is on a slower Spring Training throwing regimen than most of the pitchers. It's a measure to avoid the struggles of last year, when Fife developed right shoulder bursitis that put him on the disabled list twice.

Fife came into camp last spring No. 9 on the starting-pitcher depth chart. But he ultimately made 10 big league starts, more than Chad Billingsley, Josh Beckett, Ted Lilly or Aaron Harang. He went 4-4 with a 3.04 ERA, allowing a .235 opponents' batting average.

The right-hander also said that once he developed shoulder problems, they never went away. Fife is on a conservative throwing program now, similar to the one Billingsley is using to ease back from Tommy John surgery.

"I was discouraged over the winter, because even in December, I didn't feel like I was getting any better," said Fife. "I still couldn't stretch my arm on a training table. But around Jan. 10, it really started to improve and it feels good now when I throw."

A year ago, Fife's path to the big league rotation was blocked by the signings of Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Similarly, this spring, the Dodgers have brought in veteran starters Dan Haren and Paul Maholm.

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