LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said he hopes to be back in the lineup as soon as Thursday night at Angel Stadium as a designated hitter, discounting the possibility that lower back tightness could put him on the disabled list.
Gonzalez sat out Tuesday night's 5-1 win over the Angels at Dodger Stadium after exiting Monday night's game with lower back tightness.
"It's nerve irritation or an impingement, whatever," Gonzalez said after Tuesday's game. "They just want it to calm down and hopefully everything goes as expected and I'll be in there Thursday or Friday."
The injury came up when the first baseman reported to manager Dave Roberts that his back had stiffened up after an at-bat in the fifth inning, leading him to be promptly pulled from the game as a precautionary move.
Gonzalez said he had a similar issue at the end of last year that he played through and suggested he would have played through this as well, but Roberts told him, "This early in the season, there's no need to push it."
With Gonzalez out on Tuesday, Howie Kendrick got his second start of the year at first base and showed he was game by making a nice lunging catch of a Yunel Escobar line drive for the first out of the game.
"When you're talking about the core or the back and someone who's a stalwart in your lineup, it's tough to replace," Roberts said. "We've got Howie in there tonight. ... Adrian's obviously a hard guy to replace."
The veteran's production has been a significant portion of the team's offense, ranking in the top three on the roster in at-bats (142), hits (40) and home runs (4). Tuesday was only his third day out of the starting lineup, the fewest on the team.
Roberts also did not rule out a stint on the disabled list, saying that more time would be needed to make such a significant decision.
"At this point -- and I know that he's completely against going on the DL -- right now we're going to give it a couple days and see where we're at," Roberts said.
Losing Gonzalez for an extended period of time would be a large blow to the team, given a lack of clear replacements at first base. With Scott Van Slyke (back) still on the DL, the team has turned to Kendrick, a second baseman by trade, and catcher Yasmani Grandal to back up Gonzalez.
Jack Baer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.