Joe Kelly endeared himself to Los Angeles Dodgers fans last season when he got into a verbal exchange with Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa that sparked a benches-clearing incident and earned him an eight-game suspension.
Kelly appealed the ruling and got it down to five games. Before serving that he was placed on the 10-day injured list due to right shoulder inflammation. It was the same designation given to Kelly when he began this season on the IL.
More recently it was revealed Kelly underwent offseason surgery to remove cysts from his right shoulder, including one that was growing on the nerve. The Dodgers did not disclose the operation out of respect to Kelly.
The parties became aware of the issue last year. “I guess it was kind of a blessing when I got suspended last year. Because of those eight games, I had time to actually go see if something was wrong,” Kelly said.
“Went to go get the MRI and we saw, so it was something we were going to try to take care of during the season, but it obviously didn’t work with the cyst. Had to wait until after the World Series.”
Although Kelly’s 2021 debut didn’t produce desired results, there already was immediate relief with the operation. “Just everyday things of washing my hair, reaching for a backpack, laying down on my back, that burned,” he said.
“Kind of like if there were fire ants inside my arm and moving down my hand. Getting rid of that was definitely a plus. That’s where I found a day or two days after surgery, you’re definitely banged up, but I got instant relief. It was great to know it was successful.”
How effective the 32-year-old can be is paramount given the rash of injuries to Dodgers relief pitchers. Manager Dave Roberts said he considers Kelly among the options to appear in high-leverage situations.
Pep talk Knox
When the Dodgers fell behind in last year’s National League Championship Series, Kelly’s wife, Ashley, began to upload videos of their son Knox giving the team a pep talk. Given the current struggles of the team, Kelly was asked if Knox would need to reprise that role.
“He definitely would. He’s in school, so he doesn’t really stay up to watch all the games so he doesn’t know our record,” Kelly said. “If I told him our record, he would get fired up. He’s a fiery kid, kind of like me.”
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