- Tony Jackson, ESPNLosAngeles.com
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The Dodgers right-hander said that when he takes the mound for that game, he won't be thinking about the last time he stood on the mound at Chase Field, when he wasn't standing for very long. That was the day, last Aug. 15, when Diamondbacks infielder Rusty Ryal hit him in the left temple with a line drive, sending Kuroda to the hospital with a concussion.
"I just have to pitch aggressively," Kuroda said, with Kenji Nimura translating. "The ball hit me in the head, and I can't really change that. But at the same time, I will be playing baseball more in the future. I know the ball was hit hard, and I know the media will be asking me about it in the future. But I just have to keep moving forward."
The ball hit Kuroda so hard that it caromed into the front row of the stands near the third-base dugout, which was a good sign because it meant it hit bone rather than soft tissue. Had it hit soft tissue, it probably would have dropped straight to the ground, and that would have been an indication Kuroda was in real trouble.
Kuroda said he has watched video of the play several times since it happened.
"I just wanted to see how I was hit," he said. "I was totally aware of the situation when it happened. I only became concerned after they sent me to the hospital. When the ball hit me, my first reaction was wondering if anyone had caught the ball."
Kuroda has been the Dodgers' most dependable starter so far this season, going 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA in six starts.
The Dodgers remain committed to Garret Anderson as their primary left-handed bat off the bench despite the fact he entered play on Tuesday night hitting just .122, including 3 for 19 as a pinch hitter -- and despite the fact another major league veteran who bats left-handed, Jay Gibbons, is hitting .393 with six homers, 22 RBIs and a .404 on-base percentage for the Dodgers' Triple-A Albuquerque affiliate.
"I see a player trying to adjust to a new role," Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said of Anderson. "When you're struggling and you get one at-bat five days a week, that makes it very tough."
Anderson, a three-time All-Star, is playing off the bench for the first time in his 17-year career. But he also is 37, so anytime he goes into a prolonged hitting slump, certain questions are going to be raised. However, the Dodgers also signed Anderson last winter for the leadership qualities he brings to the clubhouse, which Colletti agreed was another strong reason for being patient with him.
Right-hander Ramon Ortiz tried to be nonchalant about the fact he is tentatively slated to make his first big league start in almost three years on Friday night at San Diego. Ultimately, though, he had to admit that he is pretty excited about it.
"I'm very happy," said Ortiz, a 10-year veteran whose previous big league start came on May 26, 2007, for Minnesota against Toronto. "It's unbelievable that it has been that long."
Ortiz spent the 2008 season in Japan, last season with San Francisco's Triple-A Fresno affiliate and the winter in between pitching in his native Dominican Republic, where he was used exclusively as a starter. He has made 13 relief appearances for the Dodgers this season, posting a 5.24 ERA, and it became apparent he might be bound for the rotation after he threw five innings and 82 pitches following Charlie Haeger's early exit on Saturday against Colorado.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.
Dodgers pitcher Hiroki Kuroda steps onto the mound for the first time since taking a shot to the head on August 15, 2009.