We knew before today that Blake Hawksworth had surgery on Jan. 12 to remove scar tissue and a bone spur from his right elbow. What we didn't know, until we met with manager Don Mattingly this morning, was that Hawksworth had a second procedure about 10 days later to clear up an infection resulting from the first procedure. This has put him about two weeks behind schedule, meaning that when he is ready to begin throwing, he won't have enough time to get ready for the season.
That means he will begin the season on the 15-day disabled list, which in turn means that a bullpen that didn't appear to have an opening now has one -- although it likely would be a temporary opening, because Hawksworth is out of minor league options and thus virtually guaranteed a spot when he is ready to go.
So the six entrenched Dodgers relievers -- Javy Guerra, Kenley Jansen, Matt Guerrier, Mike MacDougal, Scott Elbert and Todd Coffey -- will be joined by the winner of a veritable spring-training free-for-all that could include as many as 10 candidates, with veteran non-roster invitees probably the favorites because, like most veteran non-roster invitees, they have escape clauses in their contracts.
On the other hand, Hawksworth's absence could open a spot for either Ramon Troncoso, who also is out of options, or Josh Lindblom. Or, the Dodgers could elect to go with one of their highly touted youngsters like Michael Anontini or Nathan Eovaldi, although that would seem like the least likely scenario.
Hawksworth, by the way, posted a 4.08 ERA for the Dodgers last season, his first with the club after being acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals for Ryan Theriot.