Stults to return to LA rotation on Monday

Stults to return to rotation on Monday

LOS ANGELES -- Left-hander Eric Stults, scratched from Wednesday night's start because of a sprained pitching thumb, is expected to return to the Dodgers' starting rotation Monday at Coors Field. He will be followed on Tuesday by Eric Milton, who will be making his second start for the Dodgers after being skipped because of the Thursday day off.

Stults said he still expects to make that start, even though on Wednesday his thumb and wrist were immobilized in a brace.

"It was the doctor's idea to brace it because it might heal faster by not using it at all," said Stults, who suffered the injury making a defensive play in his start last Friday night in Florida.

"I think it will be on only a day or two. I figure to throw a bullpen session Friday and start Monday. I had a short bullpen yesterday and it didn't feel any worse after that."

Manager Joe Torre also said he intends to stick with a 13-man pitching staff for the time being, even though he'd prefer to have 12 with an extra position player.

"Something always crops up, like Stults," he said of the left-hander's sprained pitching thumb. "We're going to take another look at Milton and, hopefully, in two to three weeks, get [Hiroki] Kuroda back. Then we'll have to make a decision."

Kuroda, who won Opening Day and hasn't been seen since, will begin a Minor League rehab assignment Friday night for Class A Inland Empire at Bakersfield. He's likely to need two or three starts and could return to the rotation at the beginning of June.

Torre said having a four-man bench does become a problem if he needs to hit for a pitcher in the middle innings of a game that he needs to hold back his main pinch-hitters for the late innings.

"Last night, I would have used [Randy] Wolf to be my first guy [pinch-hitting]," he said. "I really only had X-Man [Xavier Paul] and Mark Loretta with all their left-handers in the bullpen, and I wanted to have one or the other available late in the game to play catch-up."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.