LOS ANGELES — Joe Kelly is still a little sore.
The Dodgers reliever has not pitched since August 8 due to inflammation in his pitching shoulder. That’s not it, though. That has cleared up and Kelly could return soon.
But the Dodgers reliever was suspended for eight games after throwing at — but not hitting — two batters during the Dodgers’ July series in Houston and then prompting a benches-clearing confrontation with a pouty-lip pose directed at Astros shortstop Carlos Correa.
The suspension was cut to five games after an appeal, but the going rate for throwing at hitters has apparently dropped since that July incident. Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman was suspended just three games after buzzing a 101-mph fastball by the head of a Tampa Bay hitter earlier this week during a contentious series between those two teams.
“It definitely looks kind of fishy,” Kelly said. “I obviously knew that he was a person again and with the language that they’re using at me — it was always that I was a repeat offender. I already had one strike on my record (a previous suspension for throwing at a hitter) and Chapman had the same exact thing.
” But obviously I’ve probably said a little bit more words than Chapman said. I don’t think the words that I used to the people who make these decisions were very, very nice when the appeal process went down behind closed doors. So I ruffled some feathers. It just shows that their feelings get hurt, just like anyone else’s feelings get hurt. So, it is what it is. I would still like to know what they think, you know, what the difference is. And if it’s not the same, what’s the standard for it? Is it three games for the suspension and then five games for making a face or supposedly making the other team leave benches? That’s a lot of games for that. … They made a decision and that’s what it is.”
Kelly has yet to serve his five-game suspension and the discipline awaits him as soon as he is activated from the Injured List (assuring that he won’t be active for the Dodgers’ return series against the Astros in Los Angeles next weekend). That could be soon. He threw to hitters on Friday and will have another simulated-game session on Monday that could determine his readiness.
“I wouldn’t say it’s an all-or-nothing thing. But it’s going to be a big step where I’m gonna test it and it’s either gonna go well or it’s not gonna go well,” Kelly said. “And then decisions will come for them after that.”
The main question is whether Kelly will have enough time to get back to full strength before the postseason starts in just about three weeks.
“That’s the number one factor,” he said. “Not being able to play the sport that I’ve loved since I was four years old on the best team that I’ve ever been a part of — and that says a lot just because I’ve been on a team that won the World Series, and this Dodger team, this 2020 team — I don’t care if it’s a short season, long season (162 games). Long season we would have broken all the records, short season we’re gonna break all the records.
“This is the best team that I’ve ever seen — best bullpen I’ve ever been a part of, best lineup I’ve ever seen, best starting pitchers, defense, all around. So it’s not fun watching from the sidelines. It’s fun watching the team win. But that selfish part of me wants to be a big factor on the team and I’m not obviously right now. So, coming back and being healthy is what I want.”
Joc Pederson was not in the starting lineup against a right-handed pitcher for the first time this season Sunday and was not with the team for the start of the game.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Pederson was dealing with a family matter and might miss multiple games.
“I don’t think it’s my place” to say anything more, Roberts said. But he did acknowledge that a roster move might be necessary if Pederson is not available when the Dodgers start a three-game series in Arizona on Tuesday.
Players can be placed on paternity leave for one to three days.
Reliever Pedro Baez threw a second simulated game Sunday, pitching to hitters including Justin Turner. Baez (on the IL with a groin injury) could return this week. Turner is eligible to return on Tuesday but Roberts said that decision remains “day to day.”