LOS ANGELES ― As recently as two days ago, Tommy Kahnle was planning to spend his Sunday pitching in a minor league baseball game. Instead he was jogging to the mound at Dodger Stadium.
Kahnle was activated from the 10-day injured list, and Garrett Cleavinger was optioned to Triple-A, prior to the Dodgers’ game against the Detroit Tigers. Kahnle’s scoreless sixth inning was his first appearance in a major league game since July 26, 2020, when a torn ligament in his right elbow sentenced him to Tommy John surgery and almost two years of rehab.
“I was very excited,” Kahnle said. “It was a pretty special day. It’s been a while. I treated it like any normal day I have in the six, seven years I’ve been up here. It was fun to get back up there and be a part of the team.”
The Dodgers had been holding a vacant seat in their bullpen for Kahnle since he signed a two-year, $4.75 million free agent contract in December 2020. The 32-year-old right-hander can earn another $250,000 for 60 games pitched this season, and $500,000 for 70 games pitched.
Kahnle met the final requirement of his rehab process when he appeared in back-to-back games Wednesday and Thursday in Rancho Cucamonga. He felt fine afterward, and confident enough in his fastball command, to make Sunday’s scheduled rehab game optional.
Kahnle joins a Dodger team that is missing its best set-up man. Veteran right-hander Blake Treinen is days ― if not a week ― away from beginning a throwing program as he recovers from a shoulder injury. His absence was particularly felt in Saturday’s 5-1 loss to Detroit, in which the bullpen surrendered four runs.
Kahnle struck out Harold Castro and Jonathan Schoop with his signature changeup, then retired Jeimer Candelario on one pitch, inducing a soft popout to shallow center field to end the sixth inning.
“He’ll come in (Monday) for some treatment and for some catch play,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Kahnle. “Soon he’ll be ready for that Giants series.”
Kahnle will pitch in high-leverage situations, Roberts said. In 2019, his last full season, Kahnle paired a 97-mph fastball with a 90-mph changeup to strike out 35.5 percent of opposing batters ― an elite rate. His velocity Sunday picked up right where it left off.
Julio Urías will start Tuesday’s game against the San Francisco Giants on five days’ rest, while the starter for Wednesday’s game is to be determined.
It is possible that means right-hander Tony Gonsolin, who’s 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA through his first four starts, will have his next turn in the rotation pushed back several days. It is also possible Gonsolin will start Wednesday. Roberts also didn’t rule out the possibility of a bullpen game in the finale of the two-game series, either.
Urías is 2-3 with a 2.61 ERA in 20 games (14 starts) against the Giants in his career, not including two outstanding starts in the Dodgers’ five-game NL Division Series victory against San Francisco last October.
Caleb Ferguson started for Triple-A Oklahoma City and faced four batters in his latest minor league rehabilitation game against the Sugar Land Space Cowboys. The left-hander, who missed all of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery, retired two batters on a flyout and a swinging strikeout, and allowed two batters to reach on a single and a fielding error. … Roberts said left-hander David Price, who is recovering from COVID-19, will build up his pitch count at the Dodgers’ Camelback Ranch facility in Glendale, Arizona in the near future. Price will then have the discretion to go on a minor league rehabilitation assignment. … Right-hander Mitch White remains in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19. … San Francisco will start two left-handed pitchers in the two-game series at Dodger Stadium: Carlos Rodon on Tuesday, and former Dodger Alex Wood on Wednesday. … The Dodgers must reduce their active roster size from 28 to 26. Roberts said the team will keep the maximum 14 pitchers; right-hander Carson Fulmer is expected to return to Triple-A on Monday.
The Dodgers have a day off Monday