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DODGERS-ANGELS REPORT

Another Setback for Gagne, Who's Not Ready to Throw

July 01, 2006|Ben Bolch, Mike DiGiovanna | From Times Staff Reports

Eric Gagne called off a scheduled throwing session Friday after telling a physical therapist that he wasn't ready to take the next step in his recovery from an elbow injury, Dodgers trainer Stan Johnston said.

Gagne, who has pitched only two innings this season because of nerve pain in his right elbow, attended a physical therapy session as expected Friday. But the closer did not feel he had made enough progress to go further in what is expected to be a weeks-long progression toward his return, a therapist told Johnston.

Johnston said he hadn't spoken with Gagne as of about an hour before the Dodgers played the Angels on Friday.

"Any time you get word like that, it's a setback," Dodgers Manager Grady Little said. "It's not happening right now."

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The Dodgers plan to ease Mark Hendrickson's transition to a new team by allowing Toby Hall, his former batterymate with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, to catch his National League debut today against the Angels.

"That helps," said Hendrickson, acquired earlier this week after going 4-8 in 13 starts with the Devil Rays. "I know Toby's style as a catcher and I'm comfortable with him."

Little would not commit to using Hall as a personal catcher for Hendrickson, nor would he specify how many days a week Hall could expect to play behind starting catcher Russell Martin.

"He said, 'Just be patient and go with the flow,' " Hall said of his conversation with his new manager.

Hall, an everyday catcher with the Devil Rays, has not played in fewer than 119 games in any season since 2002. Though that figures to change this year, Hall, who spent part of his childhood in Whittier, called it "a privilege" just to wear Dodger blue.

"When you've been brought up losing your whole big league career, to get the opportunity to win, it wouldn't matter if I was the batboy," Hall said. "It's a breath of fresh air to be on a team that has a chance to win."

General Manager Ned Colletti acknowledged that adding a third catcher to the roster might force the Dodgers to keep only 11 pitchers for the remainder of the season, placing additional pressure on the starters to pitch deeper into games.

-- Ben Bolch

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Injured center fielder Darin Erstad, who was examined by University of Nebraska doctors earlier this week, returned to the Angels on Friday with no new diagnosis or course of treatment for his inflamed right-ankle joint, which sent him back to the disabled list June 23.

"I'm just going to have to rest it," said Erstad, who sat out six weeks from May 1 to mid-June and started four games before returning to the DL. "I don't know for how long. I'm trying to get it as comfortable as I can and support it as much as I can."

Erstad, who was fitted with a new orthotics device, would not even discuss the possibility of surgery, this season or after the season.

"I'm trying to find a way to get on the field this year," he said. "This is the path I'm on right now."

*

Left fielder Garret Anderson returned to the lineup Friday night after sitting out two games because of lower-back tightness. Anderson, who suffered the injury while running the bases Monday night, said he never considered going on the DL.

"I feel I can play without the risk of hurting myself," said Anderson, who entered Friday's game in an eight-for-51 (.157) slump. "So I'm playing."

-- Mike DiGiovanna

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