SAN DIEGO -- Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw said Tuesday his decision to drop his appeal and immediately begin serving a five-game, league-imposed suspension had to do with minimizing the impact of his absence on the club.
"The appeal date was set for [Thursday]," Kershaw said. "That would have been four days past my last start [on Sunday against the New York Mets], so if I had lost five more days, that wouldn't have been fair to the team. I still don't agree with the suspension, but it's better for the team to do it this way."
Kershaw was suspended after he was ejected from a game against San Francisco last Tuesday night when he hit Giants center fielder Aaron Rowand with a pitch to start the seventh inning. Both benches had been warned earlier in the game by plate umpire Adrian Johnson after the Giants' Tim Lincecum hit Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp, so Johnson's perception that Kershaw hit Rowand intentionally in retaliation led to automatic ejections for both Kershaw and Dodgers manager Joe Torre.
By dropping the appeal, Kershaw will merely be pushed back one day before his next start, which is now set for Sunday at San Francisco, when he will be pitching on six days' rest. However, this means Kershaw won't be starting any of the seven games the Dodgers will play against the San Diego Padres over the next 10 days, games that are considered critical for the Dodgers because they trail the division-leading Padres by six games in the National League West.
Kershaw's suspension means the Dodgers will need a spot starter for one game this week, and Torre hinted it will be Saturday's game at San Francisco because that gives club officials more time to figure out who that pitcher will be. Torre seemed to rule out using Chad Billingsley on short rest, but Torre left a slight opening based on what happened in Billingsley's start against the Padres on Tuesday night.
Billingsley will be followed by Hiroki Kuroda and Vicente Padilla against the Padres, with Carlos Monasterios still scheduled to start Friday night's series opener at San Francisco. Torre said Monasterios had no lingering effects from being hit in the side of the head by a foul ball as he sat on the bench during Sunday's game against the Mets.
Kershaw continued to say he didn't hit Rowand on purpose.
"I don't agree with the suspension whether it's for one, five or 10 games," Kershaw said. "But it's just one of those things. I'm not going to stop pitching inside because of it. It's just part of it."
News and notes
Dodgers left fielder Manny Ramirez, who has been on the 15-day disabled list since July 20 because of a severely strained right calf, has reported to the team's spring-training facility in Glendale, Ariz., to continue his rehabilitation program while the Dodgers are on the road. Ramirez is expected to miss three to four weeks. ...
Dodgers hitting coach Don Mattingly, who is considered the probable successor to Torre in either 2011 or 2012, will manage the Phoenix Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League after the season. One of the knocks against Mattingly is he has never managed at any level, and while the AFL season lasts about six weeks as opposed to a full, five-month minor league season, this should work to alleviate that concern to some degree. ...
Former Dodgers outfielder Dave Roberts, now a special assistant with the Padres, was on the field during batting practice. Roberts, who is being treated for lymphoma, just completed four months of chemotherapy and is about to being radiation treatments. ...
Dodgers rookie Kenley Jansen, who was called up for the first time Friday and called upon to close against the New York Mets on Sunday when neither Jonathan Broxton nor Hong-Chih Kuo was available, is the first Dodgers pitcher to record a save in a one-run game in either the first or second appearance of his career since the save rule was instituted inn 1969, according to ESPN Stats and Information.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.