Elbow sprain lands Gagne on DL
Injury not related to sprained left knee, says closer
ANAHEIM -- Dodgers closer Eric Gagne will start the season on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right elbow, not the sprained left knee that slowed him most of the spring.
General manager Paul DePodesta made the announcement at the start of Friday night's Freeway Series game with the Angels. DePodesta would not put a timetable on Gagne's return and deflected suggestions that pitching while favoring the knee led to the arm injury.
"I don't really think there's a correlation," he said. "It would be speculation to say what led to it."
Gagne also rejected the suggestion that this injury could have been prevented.
"I wasn't trying to do anything else," he said. "It just happens. I don't think it has anything to do with the knee."
DePodesta said Gagne, the 2003 Cy Young Award winner, "started feeling different" during his one-inning appearance against the New York Mets on Thursday in Florida, and did not feel pain on any particular pitch, but was "a little sore today."
Gagne said it felt like a bruise on Friday. He first noticed discomfort after throwing a curveball to David Wright of the Mets in the eighth inning.
"I didn't feel it when I threw the pitch, I felt it when I let my arm down right after the pitch," he said. "It's my elbow and I had it before. I feared the worst. It was almost a relief when I got the results. I didn't think it would be that good."
Gagne had an MRI and CT scan taken Thursday and was diagnosed with a mild sprain of the medial collateral ligament, the same one he had replaced in a Tommy John reconstruction operation in 1997. He asked if he could play catch Friday, but was shut down.
He insisted he hasn't been rushing back from the knee injury, but conceded he now will have time to let his entire body heal.
"It's real frustrating," he said. "I wish it happened early in spring. I feel I let down the team."
The knee injury did happen early in spring. It was Feb. 24 when he said his cleats stuck while playing pepper. He made his first game appearance March 21, 19 days after the opener, and noticeably hopped in discomfort while landing on his injured leg, but continued to pitch every other day.
He demonstrated increasing confidence in the knee with each outing, but was rarely clocked at more than 90 mph. At his best, he can consistently reach 97 mph.
This week, he skipped a game appearance and instead threw a bullpen session Wednesday and the game Thursday. It was the first time this spring he had thrown off a mound on consecutive days.
"There's no tear. Structurally, he's in real good shape," DePodesta said of Gagne's elbow. "It wasn't on any one pitch."
DePodesta would not offer a timetable for Gagne's return. He said the Dodgers pitching staff has depth, but acknowledged it was being tested right from the start with disabling injuries to Brad Penny, Wilson Alvarez and now Gagne.
Gagne signed a two-year, $19 million contract in January. He has 152 saves in his first three years as a closer and set a Major League record with 84 consecutive saves.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.