Notes: Schmidt adjusts routine
Righty throwing less between starts to help recovery
LOS ANGELES -- With a starting rotation otherwise consistent, there remains the issue of Jason Schmidt.Since returning from seven weeks on the disabled list with a sore shoulder, Schmidt pitched six scoreless innings against San Diego, his fastball touching 91 mph, then was roughed up for six runs in four flat innings by Toronto, when he could reach no faster than 88 mph. His third start is scheduled for Saturday against the Angels. In preparation, Schmidt threw a bullpen session on Wednesday, but it was only 45 pitches, and the emphasis was not on velocity. Previous sessions were longer and closer to maximum effort. "I think we're still finding out how his arm responds," said pitching coach Rick Honeycutt. "To be honest, this time he threw less between starts to see if his arm bounces back stronger." That means Schmidt played very little catch and eliminated long toss, which were staples during his rehabilitation. "Today's bullpen was light," said Honeycutt. "He worked so hard to get back, maybe he did too much in between. So today, he said he was just throwing enough to get loose and work on location. He threw fastballs and changes and very few breaking balls." Honeycutt said each starter has different routines between starts. Derek Lowe, for example, has been pitching effectively for the past month and often skips bullpen sessions. Brad Penny, Wednesday night's starter, makes about 30 throws, all fastballs. Randy Wolf sticks with a routine that includes a 45-pitch bullpen session. Lineup shuffle: Another day, another lineup for manager Grady Little. Wednesday night's version had Jeff Kent resting, taking advantage of the day off on Thursday to give him extra time off. Little returned Tony Abreu to second base and kept Wilson Betemit at third. Betemit, who homered on Tuesday night, has started three of the last four games and seems to be winning back the job he lost a month ago. "He's had good passes at balls and continues to show discipline at the plate," Little said of Betemit, who was 4-for-8 on the homestand entering Wednesday. "He looks good right now. He's shown a lot of the same player who played for us at the end of last season." Matt Kemp, who followed Betemit's homer with one into the loge level, also was back in the lineup, which meant Andre Ethier was back on the bench. Ethier entered Wednesday in a 1-for-13 slide. Homer history: When the Dodgers hit three consecutive home runs on Tuesday night, it was the 12th time in franchise history and the first time with a pitcher involved, according to David Vincent of the Society of American Baseball Research. It was just the seventh time in Major League history that a pitcher has been part of three straight home runs and only the second time since 1963, with the other time coming on June 24, 2003, when the Cubs' Kerry Wood was part of back-to-back-to-back blasts. Kuo vs. Tsao: After hitting the first Major League homer for a Taiwanese-born player, Hong-Chih Kuo said countryman and disabled Dodgers pitcher Chin-hui Tsao is an even better hitter. "He was right," said Tsao, who had the first Major League hit for a Taiwanese-born player. "But it's been a long time since I swing. A fastball, I hit it. A curveball? Long time, no see." Because Tsao has battled arm problems in recent years, and because he's relieving and no longer starting, Tsao has not had a Major League at-bat since 2003. He's 2-for-13 with a double. Kuo also is 2-for-13 with a double and homer. As for Kuo's exaggerated bat flip after his homer, he did the same thing on Sept. 24 against Arizona. The difference was, that time the ball didn't clear the fence and an embarrassed Kuo had to hustle for a double. "That night, he called me and told me I had to watch that at-bat," said Tsao. "I started laughing." Minor League honors: Infielder Travis Denker and right-hander James McDonald of Class A Inland Empire have been named the organization's Player of the Month and Pitcher of the Month, respectively, for May. Denker batted .372 with 19 RBIs, and McDonald went 4-0 with a 1.84 ERA and 35 strikeouts for the first-place 66ers. Pepe's Punchout: Spanish-language broadcaster Pepe Yniguez will host an All-Star voting rally when Major League Baseball's All-Star Trolley makes a stop at Dodger Stadium during the Freeway Series this weekend.
"Pepe's Punchout" will take place inside the left-field side Field Level entrance on Friday between 6-7 p.m. PT. Fans are invited to stop by the trolley and punch out as many ballots as they can. Dodgers catcher Russell Martin, who is currently leading all National League catchers in the All-Star voting race, is scheduled to make an appearance during the rally. The NL catcher race is the closest of any position. Martin catapulted to first place this week after being 150,000 votes behind the Mets' Paul Lo Duca two weeks ago. Martin led by 12,000 votes as of Tuesday.Coming up: After a day off on Thursday, the Dodgers open a three-game series with the Angels Friday night, Lowe (6-6, 3.21 ERA) opposes Ervin Santana (5-6, 5.26) in a 7:40 PT contest at Dodger Stadium.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.