Prior to failing to win a single Freeway Series game in one season for the first time, the Los Angeles Dodgers incurred more injury concerns as Kiké Hernandez and Ross Stripling were both forced to an early exit.
Hernandez was removed at the start of the fifth inning for what the Dodgers would call left hand soreness. He underwent X-rays, which came back negative, and the club hopes to learn more on his status Thursday or Friday.
Meanwhile, Stripling was curiously removed after just 62 pitches over five innings. He hit for himself in the bottom of the fifth but did not return to the mound in the sixth. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts attributed that decision to preserving a shortened bench.
The Dodgers later announced Stripling was replaced because of a stiff neck. “Essentially, you have facet joints, I guess they run up and down your whole spine,” Stripling explained after the Dodgers’ 3-2 loss.
“Everyone has woken up with a crick in your neck; that’s what happens when you basically piss off one of your facet joints. I think Floro is battling something similar. It basically means I can’t move my neck very well.”
It’s a nagging injury he’s previously dealt with and one that impacts his ability to finish off pitches and therefore inhibits velocity. “You could see my last inning, I was throwing 87, 88 (mph) heaters, which aren’t going to get it done,” Stripling said.
“I felt it a little bit before the game and then it loosened up pretty well. That was kind of a long half inning heading into my half of the fifth, and it didn’t loosen up for me. We just played it safe and got out of there.”
SportsNet LA cameras caught Stripling massaging the right side of his chest and shoulder, however that was merely to gauge range of motion and discomfort. “We’ve got certainty that it’s neck-driven,” Roberts said.
“Obviously when you’re in the middle of a game as a pitcher and you have soreness or tightness that could potentially lead to other things, you want to be prudent and responsible. Ross was, and the training staff did a great job of letting me know to take him out of the game so we don’t put him in jeopardy.
“Right now, with some treatment, feels considerably better. What that means, I think we’ll know more in the coming days. Hopefully we got ahead of it.”
The Dodgers face a long flight to the East Coast, which could make matters challenging for Stripling. He indicated a stimulation machine would like be utilized as well as his ‘old man stuff’ of walking the aisle of the plane like he did when dealing with back trouble.
In theory, the Dodgers could allow for Stripling to remain in Los Angeles and meet the team in Denver rather than accompany them on the flight to Washington D.C. His next scheduled start is Tuesday at Coors Field.
Though, whether or not he will physically be able to take the mound is a toss up. “I would say it’s 50-50,” answered Stripling when asked if he would pitch against the Colorado Rockies.
“I don’t necessarily know for sure. I think that as we saw, if it’s not right, I’m not going to throw very hard. I’m not sure. We’ll probably just play the next few days by ear and see where I’m at.”