Jon Garland could start season on DL

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Jon Garland left Wednesday's Cactus League game with two outs in the top of the second inning because of a left-oblique injury that could result in him beginning the season on the 15-day disabled list.

Garland was sent to a Phoenix-area hospital for an MRI exam, the results of which aren't expected until Thursday.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly seemed to concede after meeting with trainer Stan Conte that Garland stands a good chance of missing the start of the season.

"Just looking at it, I don't want to put words in [Conte's] mouth, but I don't think he really felt it was [short-term]," Mattingly said. "These typically aren't two-week things, for sure. If it's more than that, we'll go from there.''

Garland, whom the Dodgers signed in November to a one-year, $5 million contract with an $8 million club option for 2012 to be their fifth starter, was making just his second start of the spring. After throwing the first pitch to Seattle Mariners shortstop Josh Wilson, his 30th pitch of the game, Garland knelt down on the front of the mound, stood back up and immediately made a gesture toward the dugout to summon Conte.

Garland then walked around the mound for a minute or two while clutching his left side before ultimately walking off the field with Conte.

About an hour after the injury, having showered and dressed, Garland said he no longer felt any pain in the muscle.

"Standing here doing nothing, it feels fine," he said. "But if I tried to throw a baseball, I don't know [how it would feel]."

Garland said he has no history of oblique injuries.

The Dodgers already have lost Vicente Padilla, the man who would have stepped in to their starting rotation if one of their five starters was injured, until late April or early May because of elbow surgery.

With Padilla out, the most likely candidate to step into the fifth spot if Garland is lost for a long period of time would be either John Ely, who made 18 starts for the Dodgers as a rookie last year and went 4-10 with a 5.49 ERA, or Tim Redding, a non-roster veteran who last pitched in the majors for the New York Mets in 2009.

Other than the five projected starters, Ely and Redding are the only pitchers in camp who have been on starters programs this spring, and neither has allowed a run. Ely has pitched six scoreless innings over three appearances, while Redding has pitched eight over three.

Garland, 31, is an 11-year veteran and hasn't been on the disabled list since 2000, when he was a rookie with the Chicago White Sox.

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.