Hong-Chih Kuo exits with control issues
LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Hong-Chih Kuo, who left the club for six weeks earlier this season to deal with a recurrence of the yips, struggled with his control in the ninth inning of Monday night's 8-5 win over the Colorado Rockies, walking two of the four batters he faced, throwing a wild pitch to the backstop and recording only one out after entering the game to start the inning with a seven-run lead.
Kuo, manager Don Mattingly and catcher Dioner Navarro all denied after the game that Kuo had suffered a relapse of the problem that plagued him in 2009 and again in 2011.
"I walked a couple of guys, but I felt good," Kuo said. "I just didn't have command tonight. I felt good, and that is the most important thing for me."
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"He just had a rough outing," he said. "He has been throwing the ball good. It was just a little bit rough tonight."
Kuo missed the strike zone with 12 of the 17 pitches he threw, one of which went over Navarro's right shoulder and beyond his outstretched mitt and hit the backstop.
"That one ball got away, and he was trying to add (velocity) on there, it looked like," Mattingly said. "Not (a concern) at this point. He has velocity, and the ball is coming out out of his hand good."
Kuo wound up being charged with three earned runs in one-third of an inning, but Navarro also said he didn't think Kuo's control issues were starting to return.
"Not at all," Navarro said. "I know everybody expects this guy to come out and slam the door, but sometimes, it doesn't happen. The bottom line is he didn't do it tonight. I'm pretty sure he'll be ready the next time."
Kuo's career has been marked by repeated injuries, surgeries and disabled-list stints, but during the times he has been healthy, he has been one of the league's most dominating left-handed relievers. During the Dodgers' division-winning seasons of 2008 and '09, Kuo was the primary eighth-inning setup man, and he became an All-Star for the first time last year.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.
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