Based on the way Brad Penny's season has unfolded, Dodgers Manager Joe Torre said he wasn't expecting his opening-day starter to pitch again this season.
"I can't think Penny's going to be back," Torre said. "Nothing anybody has said makes me say that. It's off what happened this year."
Penny, who was moved to the 15-day disabled list for the second time this season Thursday, said he was aiming to return this season, but he won't be permitted to start throwing until Tuesday, at the earliest. His first stint on the DL, which started in mid-June, lasted two months.
An MRI exam that Penny underwent Thursday was reviewed by team physician Neal El Attrache, who determined that he had an increase in scar tissue in the front part of his shoulder compared to when he was sidelined the first time. The extra scar tissue is impinging the rotator cuff tendon, resulting in inflammation and irritation.
A two-time All-Star, Penny is 6-9 this season with a 6.05 earned-run average.
Long road back
Tanyon Sturtze said there were several times this year when he wondered why he was still pitching.
Like when the 37-year-old reliever was in extended spring training in Vero Beach, Fla., working out with 18- and 19-year-olds who spoke a language and listened to music he couldn't comprehend. Or when he was pitching in front of empty seats in Las Vegas in 100-degree temperatures.
But a call from Torre on Wednesday night made everything worthwhile.
Twenty-seven months removed from major shoulder surgery that ended a three-year run with the New York Yankees, Sturtze was about to be called back to the majors. His contract was purchased by the Dodgers from triple-A Las Vegas the next day.
"It's hard to explain how happy and excited I am," said Sturtze, who was 2-2 with a 4.38 ERA in 39 games in double and triple A.
A veteran who played 11 seasons in the big leagues with six teams, Sturtze nearly called it quits in the spring when he didn't make the Dodgers' major league roster out of camp as a non-roster invitee. But Torre asked him to consider spending time in the minors.
Sturtze recalled the conversations he had with former players, who told him that they didn't know what to do with themselves.
Why would he be any different?
"It's not like I have a Harvard degree to fall back on," said Sturtze, who never attended a four-year college.
Plus, he said, this was Torre who was asking. If anyone else had asked, he said he would have refused.
Sturtze said Torre shielded him from the media when he pitched for him in New York from 2004 to 2006 as a seventh- and eighth-inning man.
"I feel like I owe a lot to Joe," Sturtze said. "I felt like he was a father figure to me."
The education of Ethier
Andre Ethier says he feels he has come a long way this season in terms of the way he approaches his at-bats. Manny Ramirez has shown him how much further he has to go.
"It's been an eye-opening experience, a chance to see one of the best hitters currently in baseball, to see how he goes about his business, how he prepares, how he relaxes," Ethier said.
Ethier says he's particularly impressed with the way Ramirez prepares himself.
"You can see that he's starting to create a game plan in the dugout, even before his at-bats," Ethier said. "Four spots ahead, he's in the dugout, going through certain situations."