CHICAGO -- The Dodgers on Sunday placed left-handed starting pitcher Eric Stults on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained left thumb and recalled Double-A right-handed reliever Travis Schlichting, a converted third baseman in only his third professional season as a pitcher. Stults allowed four runs in three-plus innings on Saturday and afterward conceded that he wasn't helping the team trying to pitch through the discomfort of his thumb. Manager Joe Torre said he was hopeful Stults would need only the minimum 15 days before returning. "This way, instead of it nagging, we'll let it heal and not bother me the rest of the year," said Stults. "Obviously, the last two outings I haven't helped the team. I've been effective early on, but as the game goes on, it gets stiff, I lose my effectiveness and feel for pitches."
Stults threw a shutout against the Giants on May 9, but he jammed the thumb making a sprawling flip to first base while fielding a bunt in Florida on May 15. Before the injury, Stults had a 3.82 ERA. He missed one start and in his next two has a 9.81 ERA. Stults' thumb was in a splint on Sunday, and he expected to be shut down from throwing for an unknown duration. "It's like a cast, so I'm not moving it," he said. "We'll see if it helps the ligament heal. The 24-year-old Schlichting has been untouchable for the Lookouts. In nine games, he has allowed one earned run over 13 2/3 innings (0.66 ERA) with 12 strikeouts, seven walks and a .146 opposing batting average. "He's been on our radar for a time, but this is sooner than anticipated," said Torre, who hinted that Schlichting might stay past Monday, when the Dodgers need a roster spot for the activation of Hiroki Kuroda. Schlichting's Spring Training participation was limited to one perfect inning of a "B" game because of a bulging disk in his lower back. He said two epidural shots and core exercises got him back on the mound for extended spring training, and he's been pitching for Chattanooga for a month. During his time as a position player, his bat lacked power. Drafted in the fourth round by Tampa Bay, he was traded to the Angels before the 2006 season, but he asked if he could pitch when he learned he was headed for low Class A for the third consecutive year. "It's no fun hitting .250 without the power numbers they expected," he said. The Angels released him while he was rehabbing from a knee injury during Spring Training in 2007 and he hooked on with an Independent League team, the Kansas City T-Bones of the Northern League, who let him pitch. "Getting released was the best thing that could have happened, looking back," he said. "It couldn't have gone any better." After that season, Schlichting's agent arranged a tryout with Dodgers vice president Logan White, who remembered seeing Schlichting while scouting his high school teammate, John Danks. The Dodgers signed him that winter and he played at Double-A last season. "I didn't pitch much in high school," he said. "I was No. 3 and we played twice a week -- do the math. I always had a good arm but didn't know how to use it. The Dodgers' coaches straightened me out. I can't believe how fast it's come."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.