CHICAGO — The last time Hiroki Kuroda was on a major league mound was on opening day, which was eight weeks ago.
What can be expected of him when he faces the Arizona Diamondbacks tonight at Dodger Stadium?
Manager Joe Torre said Sunday that he didn't know, which was one of the reasons why the Dodgers sent Clayton Kershaw from Chicago to Los Angeles earlier than the rest of the team.
"Just to have him in the event that something happens," Torre said.
Torre said Kuroda is expected to throw from 85 to 90 pitches.
"A lot of it is going to depend on how hard it is for him to get there," Torre said.
Sidelined for two months because of a strained side muscle, Kuroda will be activated today and take the place in the rotation that belonged to Eric Stults, who was put on the disabled list Sunday because of a sprained left thumb. Stults was 0-1 with an 8.03 earned-run average in his last three starts.
Kuroda said last week that he wasn't particularly confident, telling Japanese reporters in San Bernardino at the conclusion of the second of his two minor league starts, "I'm not at a point where I can return to the majors with my chest stuck out."
That day, Kuroda gave up seven runs (five earned) and nine hits in five innings.
Manny Ramirez is expected to work out at Dodger Stadium again today, but might not be there when his teammates show up.
"My guess is he'll work out early," Torre said.
Torre said earlier in the week that Ramirez wants to avoid contact with the media.
"I don't think he's ready for that right now," Torre said.
Blake sits again
Third baseman Casey Blake's tight right hamstring kept the Dodgers' leading home run hitter out of the lineup for the second consecutive day.
Torre said he didn't think Blake would be able to play tonight, adding, "My guess is that it's going to be a few days."
Blake has hit .400 with four home runs and 18 runs batted in in his last 19 games. He started the season slowly, batting only .225 in his first 28 games.
Blake discounted the suggestion that the injury hit him at a particularly inopportune time.
"I think it's bad timing any time you can't get in the lineup," he said. "I don't think there's ever a good time for something like this to happen."
Taking Stults' place on the active roster is right-hander Travis Schlichting, who was recalled from double-A Chattanooga.
The big league call-up was the first of Schlichting's career. Schlichting, 24, was 1-0 with an 0.66 ERA in nine appearances with Chattanooga.
Schlichting was drafted by Tampa Bay as a third baseman in 2003. He was traded at the end of the 2005 season to the Angels, who made him a pitcher at his request.
He was released by the Angels in the spring of 2007 and caught on with the Kansas City T-Bones of the Independent Northern League.
Schlichting didn't pitch particularly well, but said he learned a lot by facing batters who were of double-A and triple-A caliber.
"To be honest with you, I think being released was the best thing that happened to me," he said.
He was signed by the Dodgers a year later.
Schlichting was invited to major league camp this spring, but barely pitched because of a bulging disk in his back.
He was added to Chattanooga's roster only about a month ago.