LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers All-Star closer Kenley Jansen will miss the weekend series in Colorado as a precautionary measure because of a heart condition that leaves him vulnerable to an irregular heartbeat at high altitude, but he said he would "definitely" play in Colorado if the Dodgers meet the Rockies
LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers All-Star closer Kenley Jansen will miss the weekend series in Colorado as a precautionary measure because of a heart condition that leaves him vulnerable to an irregular heartbeat at high altitude, but he said he would "definitely" play in Colorado if the Dodgers meet the Rockies this postseason.
Jansen, who suffered an atrial fibrillation episode last month in Denver, was advised by a cardiologist not to make the trip because he would be at "high risk" of another incident. Jansen suffered a similar episode in 2012 and required an offseason ablation operation to repair it. Jansen has said he probably will need another operation this winter.
Jansen said his final decision to sit out the series was an easy one.
"So easy," he said. "At the end of the day, I have three children and I want to see them get old and graduate and all that stuff. That's what doctors do for a living, they take care of you. That's what I got to do. I got to care about my health."
Jansen used terms rarely heard in a clubhouse while explaining the physical risks of playing this weekend.
"Your life is not in danger unless it forms a blood clot and you have a stroke," he said of his condition. "I'm aware of it, whenever it happens I feel it, that's a good thing. Hopefully, it will be done for [good] this offseason [with another procedure].
"I'm not going to overrule a doctor. It's not smart for me to go to Colorado right now, even though I want to help the team. At the same time, got to take care of yourself and listen to the doctors."
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said the ballclub was in total agreement with the decision.
"When you have a recommendation from the doctor that says it's in his best interest not to make the trip, that sort of supersedes anything we're thinking on the baseball side of things," said Roberts. "You get the recommendation, you follow it and go from there. The risk, the playoffs -- not even in our kind of thought."
Jansen said on Sunday that he doesn't fear for his health by returning to Denver, but is concerned about hindering the club for an indefinite period during a pennant race, should he suffer another episode and require another lengthy stay on the sidelines.
"That certainly weighed into it," Roberts said of the potential for Jansen's lengthy absence. "But just the possibility that it could set him back two weeks, a week, or even worse off. We don't really know. So, when we get that decision from the doctor, it's sort of a no-brainer. You have to applaud Kenley for feeling good and wanting to see it through, but sometimes you have to take it out of the player's hands."
Roberts would not name a replacement closer for the three-game series.
"It's depending on availability," he said. "Right now, I can't say. We don't have a dedicated closer without Kenley."
But the Dodgers believe they are in better position to cover for Jansen than a month ago because rosters have expanded, Ryan Madson was acquired, and Thomas Stripling will return from the disabled list this weekend after missing a month with lower back pain.
Stripling was impressive throwing a simulated game on Wednesday and Roberts indicated a Saturday return is likely. Madson and Stripling will join Kenta Maeda and Scott Alexander as late-inning options.
After Jansen's heart episode last month, the Dodgers' bullpen went into disarray, with five different relievers losing five consecutive games. Meanwhile, after spending 10 days on the disabled list, Jansen returned to experience the worst four-game stretch of his career, complaining that a medication made him sluggish. He came off the medication to pitch effectively in three consecutive Dodgers victories over Arizona over the weekend.
Roberts said Jansen will remain in Los Angeles and work out, then rejoin the club in Cincinnati for the series that starts Monday night. Roberts wouldn't speculate whether Colorado will be off-limits for Jansen permanently.
This is the Dodgers' last trip to Colorado in the regular season, but they could end up playing there in the National League Wild Card Game, NL Division Series or NL Championship Series.
The Dodgers currently sit a half-game back of the Rockies in the NL West and a game behind the Cardinals for the NL's second Wild Card spot.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.