Capuano shaping up as Dodgers’ fifth starter
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com | 03/04/12 4:30 PM EST
GLENDALE, Ariz. — New Dodgers acquisition Chris Capuano made his first start of the spring on Sunday against Clayton Kershaw in an intrasquad game on a back Minor League field at Camelback Ranch.
Capuano has had two Tommy John surgeries on his left elbow and is penciled in to be the fifth starter if he remains healthy — following Kershaw, Chad Billingsly, Ted Lilly and Aaron Harang. Capuano and Harang are both newcomers as free agents.
Capuano signed a two-year, $10 million guaranteed contract, after making 33 starts last season for the Mets. The southpaw missed all of 2008 and pitched only nine Minor League innings in ’09 while with the Brewers. He threw two innings on Sunday, and faced seven batters without much incident.
“The last two offseasons for me have been normal, as far as I’ve been able to train as much as I want to with no restrictions,” Capuano said on Sunday. “I feel great. I feel normal. After what I went through in 2008 and ’09, I had to come to a certain sense of peace. Now, I enjoy every day I’m out here.”
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said on Sunday that he’s set up his spring rotation so that Capuano pitches the last exhibition game against the Angels at Dodger Stadium on April 4.
Capuano would then not pitch again until April 11 at the earliest. The Dodgers open with a four-game series against the Padres at San Diego on April 5. They have an off-day on April 9, before opening at home against the Pirates the next day. Kershaw will get both the season opener and home opener.
Mattingly said on Sunday that he hasn’t decided whether to come back with his fifth starter on April 11, or stay in rotation. In that case, Capuano wouldn’t make his first start until April 14 at Dodger Stadium against the Padres.
“We’re going to keep guys, as much as we can, kind of on a rhythm of what’s close to [the] season,” Mattingly said. “We haven’t really set anybody up yet [at the back of the rotation]. It seems like Capuano is that guy. As of right now, he’s throwing the last game of spring. He’s throwing fifth in the spring. There’s kind of a drop-dead date, as far as lining guys up so we can play around until that day.”
That drop-dead date is around March 16 or 17.