In his hotel room in Arizona on Friday night and Saturday morning, Dodgers relief pitcher Shawn Tolleson couldn't sleep. It wasn't because of anxiety over walking both batters he faced to force in two runs in his first game on the day he was recalled. Rather, it was because of tightness in his back.
Tolleson was placed on the disabled list on Monday after meeting with team physician Dr. Robert Watkins in Los Angeles, and it could have been much worse for the right-hander.
After making the trip from Albuquerque to Iowa on Thursday with the Triple-A Isotopes, Tolleson flew from Iowa to Phoenix on Friday. He thinks the travel may have affected his back, but for whatever reason he felt tightness before the his appearance on Friday.
"It was kind of tight all day, and tight when I was warming up. I wasn't worried about it when I was pitching, I was just trying to throw strikes," Tolleson said. "But when I came out of the game it just really tightened up on me."
Tolleson also experienced a flare up of back tightness during his offseason throwing program in January but it subsided quickly. Figuring the problem would go away quickly again, Tolleson didn't tell anybody of his back tightness Friday night.
But after not being able to sleep Friday night, Tolleson called team trainers Saturday morning and told them about his back. Two days later, he learned the condition was much more serious than he realized, when he met with Dr. Watkins.
"I was kind of pushing for consent from the doctor just to kind of manage it and go out there and pitch," Tolleson said. "But he was concerned it may get worse and they may have to operate."
Tolleson had an epidural on Monday and was shut down from throwing for a week.
"It was serious enough to go on the DL, any time you have to sleep on that floor. I've been on that floor many times," said manager Don Mattingly, who had his playing career cut short by back injuries. "Once we knew it was going to be more than a day or two, we had to make a move."
Since he is shut down for a week, Tolleson will likely miss more than the standard 15 days of his disabled list. But the best case scenario for him remains returning to throwing in a week, then getting activated as early as Apr. 28.
"I just want to do whatever I can do to avoid (surgery)," Tolleson said. "I don't want to lose this season, so I'm going to work hard and try to get back there in a couple of weeks."