- The Washington Times - Friday, April 10, 2009

PHOENIX (AP) - The Los Angeles Dodgers have placed opening-day starter Hiroki Kuroda on the 15-day disabled list with a mild strain in a muscle near his left ribs.

The move was made before Friday night’s game against Arizona and is retroactive to Tuesday. Kuroda beat the San Diego Padres 4-1 in the season opener Monday.

Dodgers manager Joe Torre said the Japanese right-hander felt fine after his start but experienced tightness in his left side late in his side session in the bullpen on Wednesday.

He returned to Los Angeles where an MRI exam showed no structural damage. But Kuroda felt the tightness again when he threw off the mound Friday and the decision was made to place him on the disabled list.

“It just seemed like the smart thing to do,” Torre said.

Trainer Stan Conte said the injury was diagnosed as a mild strain of the left oblique muscle.

Left-hander Eric Stults was recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque to start against Arizona on Saturday.

Kuroda told his manager he really wanted to pitch.

“I sat and talked to him twice today,” Torre said. “I didn’t want him to necessarily feel good about it but just understand the decision was basically made as a safety factor. I understand the fact that losing him for a couple of starts or whatever it is is better than something never going away.”

The 34-year-old Kuroda is in his second season in the majors after playing 11 years in Japan. He allowed one run on four hits in 5 2-3 innings in the Dodgers’ season-opening 4-1 victory over San Diego.

“He had no hint of this during the start or after the start,” Torre said. “It wasn’t until he threw his side.”

Conte said such injuries, if they grow more serious, can sideline a pitcher for six to eight weeks. But he said that because the problem was detected early he is hopeful Kuroda will be able to return much sooner than that.

“It doesn’t seem all that serious right now,” Torre said, “except it’s serious enough to shut him down.”

Stults was 2-3 with a 3.49 ERA in seven starts for the Dodgers last season.

Kuroda’s absence means both teams will be without their opening day pitchers for their second scheduled start of the season. Diamondbacks ace Brandon Webb is skipping the start Saturday because of soreness in his right shoulder and will be replaced by right-hander Yusmeiro Petit.

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