Dodgers right-hander Joe Kelly has been sidelined since the beginning of Spring Training due to an undisclosed injury. Kelly hasn’t talked to the media this season, but he opened up about his injury to WEEI, a radio station in Boston.
Kelly said doctors found “massive cysts” during a test he got while he was suspended last season. The reliever pitched through it and was able to make a couple of appearances in the World Series.
In the offseason, doctors ultimately ended up putting in metal clamps on Kelly’s labrum in order to decompress the cysts. They also removed loose bodies from the rotator cuff.
“My shoulder hasn’t been good since the end of 2019,” Kelly told WEEI. “After the thing with the Astros, my arm was super weak. If I was laying on a table I couldn’t lift my arm past gravity. They asked me how long it was going on for and I told them forever. I couldn’t sleep at night and it felt like fire ants were eating my arm from the inside out.”
Kelly has been pitching in games at the alternate training site and the Dodgers are optimistic that he will be able to be back with the big league club in a couple of weeks. When he returns, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts thinks the veteran will look more like the pitcher the Dodgers signed to a big three-year deal in 2018.
“Joe is doing everything we’ve asked trying to get him back,” Roberts said. “He went back to back, he’ll throw an inning on Sunday and the command, the velocity, the breaking ball, changeup, all of that is there. Then soreness after outings is dissipating so he’s bouncing back. Hopefully, second week of May we’d love to have him back.”
The Dodgers’ bullpen could use the extra help as they’ve been decimated by injuries lately. Corey Knebel will be sidelined for months with a lat strain; David Price will miss several weeks with a hamstring strain; and Brusdar Graterol was placed on the 10-day injured list with right forearm tightness. Graterol hasn’t undergone any tests yet, but an MRI appears likely once the team returns to Los Angeles.
Kelly hasn’t been as sharp as the Dodgers hoped since joining the team, posting a 4.11 ERA over 67 regular-season appearances from 2019-20. But they hope that he’s able to bounce back, now that the secret injury has been resolved.
Day off for Betts
Friday was a scheduled day off for Mookie Betts, who is in the middle of his first extended slump as a member of the Dodgers. Despite carrying a Major League-leading 21-game on-base streak, Betts is hitting just .250 this season and has not hit a homer since April 13 against the Rockies.
Betts took some extra batting practice before Friday’s game, with third baseman Justin Turner and the hitting coaches looking on.
“I think Mookie, ending at-bats with balls in the strike zone, he’s not doing as well as he normally does. Swinging out of the zone is very uncharacteristic,” Roberts said. “So I think for him, I think it's taking some extra swings, feeling a little bit better about his mechanics and that will lead him to [improved] performance.”
The star outfielder has dealt with a pair of injuries this season. He missed four games with a sore lower back and missed one game after being hit by a pitch on his right forearm. Since returning from the back issue, Betts is hitting .213 with a .668 OPS in 71 plate appearances.
“I don’t,” Roberts said, when asked if he has seen anything different in Betts’ swing since the back injury. “Just turning the bases, defending, the aggressiveness of the swings, I don’t think it’s affecting the back and kind of the carryover from that. But could that have affected mechanics? Certainly. I just don’t know, and that’s kind of more between him and the hitting guys. But that’s a fair question.”
Right-hander Tony Gonsolin has been sidelined since the beginning of the season with a shoulder injury, but he has begun taking steps in the right direction during his rehab process. Roberts said that Gonsolin threw a 20-pitch bullpen session at Camelback Ranch on Thursday. The next step will likely come in three or four days, when he’ll throw a 35-pitch session.
Fully vaccinated sections
The Dodgers will offer fully vaccinated only sections for each game during the upcoming nine-game homestand against the Mariners, Marlins and D-backs. Tickets for those sections will be available at Dodgers.com/VaccinationZone.
The seats will be located on the right-field side of the Loge and Reserve Levels. The Dodgers will offer the tickets at a 20 percent discount off similarly positioned tickets. They will begin at $34.
To sit in these sections, fans will have to be two weeks removed from their final vaccine dose. For children between the ages 2 and 15, fans will have to provide proof of having tested negative for COVID-19 at least 72 hours before entering, if based on a PCR test, or 24 hours before entering, if based on an antigen test. Face coverings will still be required in these sections, except when eating or drinking.