LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers placed pitcher Carlos Frias on the disabled list with lower back tightness on Sunday before their series finale against the Mets, and recalled left-handed relief pitcher Daniel Coulombe from Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Frias said he first felt back tightness on May 19 in San Francisco, but it was manageable. It resurfaced during his last inning in Chicago on June 25, then was at its worst on June 30 in Arizona, when he left after five innings.
"It doesn't hurt other than when I'm on the hill trying to throw very hard," Frias said.
Frias had two more scheduled starts before the All-Star break, Monday and Saturday.
"We think he probably would have been ready for the start right before the break, but you can't really afford that with a starter to miss a start," said manager Don Mattingly.
The concern was that Frias might alter his delivery and get hurt as a result.
"It didn't start as anything that was painful but it was uncomfortable. The doctor advised me the more I kept pitching with the discomfort, the worse it was going to get," Frias explained. "If I continued to pitch that way, the doctor said it could affect my arm because it could compromise the mechanics."
Frias estimated that he would throw a bullpen session during or just after the All-Star break, then face live hitters during batting practice, then would need on rehab start before returning.
"We're not that concerned because there was nothing structurally wrong or any problems with back. It was more tightness," Matttingly said. "It got better, but it hasn't gotten to the point where he can just throw without changing anything."
Mattingly was peppered with questions about who would fill in for Frias on Monday, and outside of ruling some pitchers out we are still playing a guessing game. The best guess is that it will be someone currently not on the 40-man roster.
"It's a big system. There are lots of options. Lots of guys who aren't on the roster are options," Mattingly said. "We'll start somebody tomorrow. We won't forfeit."
Mattingly said he would prefer not to start reliever Juan Nicasio in what would essentially be a bullpen game, that he preferred a starter who could throw 90-100 pitches. Mattingly did rule out for Monday a Brandon Beachy, who is slated to start for Oklahoma City on his fifth rehab start.
Zach Lee, who pitched five scoreless innings in a rehab start for the AZL Dodgers on Wednesday, was also ruled out. Mattingly said Lee's next rehab start will be with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga.
Ian Thomas threw 101 pitches on Thursday in Triple-A, so he is ruled out pitching on three days rest on Monday. Joe Wieland has been on the disabled list since June 24 with a lower extremity injury, and though he is nearing a return he was also ruled out by Mattingly. "We have to be careful with him," Mattingly said.
Others who can be ruled out for Monday include Scott Baker, placed on the DL with a groin injury on Saturday; David Huff, who is with Team USA in preparation for next weekend's Pan-Am Games; Trevor Cahill, who last pitched on June 7 and last started on April 26; Jose De Leon, who started Saturday night for Double-A Tulsa; Deck McGuire, who started Saturday night for OKC; and Chris Anderson, who started Sunday for Tulsa.
Names to watch include Eric Surkamp, if he is scratched from his scheduled Sunday night start for Oklahoma City, Eric Stults, who threw 63 pitches in five innings on Thursday and would technically be on three days rest Monday, or Jeremy Kehrt, slated to start Monday for Double-A Tulsa.
The person who starts Monday won't necessarily also start on Saturday, so if Beachy, for instance, is more stretched out by the weekend, he could be a candidate as well, with a reliever coming up for the four games in between.
"You know how we use our roster," Mattingly said. "We'll try to use that spot."