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Maeda placed on DL with right hip strain

Veteran's injury opens door for a look at prospect Santana
MLB.com @kengurnick

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers are turning an injury to veteran starting pitcher Kenta Maeda into an opportunity for an early look at pitching prospect Dennis Santana.

An MRI exam confirmed the original diagnosis of a strained right hip for Maeda, who left Tuesday night's game in the second inning. Manager Dave Roberts said the "hope" is that Maeda misses only one start, but cautioned that the right-hander won't be rushed back.

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LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers are turning an injury to veteran starting pitcher Kenta Maeda into an opportunity for an early look at pitching prospect Dennis Santana.

An MRI exam confirmed the original diagnosis of a strained right hip for Maeda, who left Tuesday night's game in the second inning. Manager Dave Roberts said the "hope" is that Maeda misses only one start, but cautioned that the right-hander won't be rushed back.

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"When he returns, we don't know yet," Roberts said of Maeda, who was coming off his two best starts of the season and becomes the fourth member of the Opening Week five-man starting rotation currently on the disabled list, although Clayton Kershaw is scheduled to be activated to start on Thursday. "To make sure we get this behind us is really important. This is for his best interest for the rest of the year. I can't say it's only one start, but it's the hope."

Video: PHI@LAD: Dodgers broadcast updates key injuries

Maeda indicated the discomfort was more on the inside of the thigh than the hip joint, leading him to believe it is a muscular strain.

"It seems like it's not that bad -- pretty mild," said Maeda. "I'm looking forward to recovering and getting back quickly. Compared to yesterday, I do feel better. So that's a good sign."

Roberts said the MRI exam indicated evidence of an earlier hip injury that Maeda could not recall.

Likely to start Sunday -- unless he's needed sooner in long relief -- will be Santana, the 22-year-old from the Dominican Republic who was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City only two starts after being promoted from Double-A Tulsa. Santana, a converted shortstop, is ranked as the No. 9 prospect in the organization by MLB Pipeline.

Video: Top Prospects: Dennis Santana, RHP, Dodgers

Roberts said Santana would be the emergency long reliever on Wednesday and Thursday, but stopped short of committing to him as a starter in Coors Field against the Rockies.

"I've really grown fond of Dennis in the last couple of years," said Roberts. "He's got a live arm, a heavy sinker and a really good slider. He's got a way about him that is very endearing. He's a really good competitor, but he's got a softness and likeability. He's receptive to information and teaching and constructive criticism."

Santana was 0-2 with a 2.56 ERA in eight games for Tulsa and 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA in two starts for Oklahoma City. He was signed in 2013 for $170,000 as a shortstop before converting to pitching in '15.

"I'm 100 percent [ready]," said Santana. "You always have to be ready, you have to have that confidence in yourself no matter who's in front of you."

Dennis Anfernee Santana said he was named by his father, a basketball fan, after Dennis Rodman and Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway.

Maeda's short start, combined with a four-inning spot start by Brock Stewart on Monday, necessitated the Dodgers' bullpen to pick up 12 1/3 innings in two days.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Kenta Maeda