LOS ANGELES -- It was only one inning of work, in the final stages of the Dodgers' blowout 11-0 win over the Rockies at Dodger Stadium, but for Chris Capuano the eighth inning on Friday night was of paramount importance.
It was the first game for Capuano in exactly three weeks, since suffering a groin injury in his Sept. 6 start against the Reds in Cincinnati. He struck out Josh Rutledge looking, then did the same to Jordan Pacheco. Chris Dickerson hit a line drive, but it was right at shortstop Dee Gordon to end the inning, a 1-2-3 frame for Capuano.
"It was really fun to get out there again. Just feeling 100%, knowing that the groin is behind me, is good peace of mind," Capuano said. "At this time of the year you just want to contribute, you just want to play. For me there were two sides of it. I also wanted to get back out there any way I could after this groin injury to at least finish the season strong and throwing well."
Capuano has had an up and down season, mostly as a starter as Friday was his third relief appearance of the year. He is 4-7 with a 4.30 ERA but he has performed at the extremes all season. In eight of his starts he allowed one run or fewer (not counting his five-out, injury-shortened start on Sept. 6), and in seven starts he allowed five or more runs.
But through it all Capuano has held left-handed batters to hitting just .250/.276/.295 against him, giving the Dodgers another option for the bullpen if they decide to carry three southpaws in relief — along with Paco Rodriguez and J.P. Howell — for the playoffs.
Capuano is vying for a spot in the bullpen against the likes of Carlos Marmol, Brandon League and starter Edinson Volquez.
"With Cap, just getting him out there gives us options. It gives us a chance to see him," manager Don Mattingly said after the game. "He's one of the guys who have been here all year."
Capuano had an injection of platelet-rich plasma into his groin while rehabbing, just as he had in his calf earlier in the season. He said the groin feels fine after Friday's outing. He was able to test it out with a 40-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday in San Francisco that he called "max effort," and followed that up with aggressive fielding drills on Wednesday.
If all goes well, Capuano could get another audition of sorts on Sunday with another relief appearance in the regular season finale. After putting in the work during rehab, the left-hander is happy he was able to get back into the mix for October action.
"Whatever happens with the postseason rosters I just wanted to be available and strong in case they need me in any way," Capuano said. "We've got a lot of arms, and a lot of power arms. There is a lot of talent vying for those few spots. It will be interesting to see what happens, but at least I accomplished my goal of being there as an option."