PHOENIX -- Mike Bolsinger said Monday morning his side felt much better than it did on Sunday, but the Dodgers plan to be careful with him knowing the timetable for an oblique injury is usually measured in weeks or months and not days.
"Obviously he gave us a little bit of a scare yesterday," manager Dave Roberts said on Monday. "With the oblique we're going to be cautious. That's a word we've been using a lot recently."
Bolsinger talked to teammate Carl Crawford, who missed 75 games with a strained right oblique in 2015, though his range of motion on Monday was much better than Crawford's right after his injury, even doing stretching exercises in front of reporters this morning.
"I don't even know where my oblique is, technically," Bolsinger quipped. "I talked to CC and he said, 'When I did it I could barely move'."
Bolsinger still said he hopes to be ready to start April 8, the first time the Dodgers need a fifth starter in the regular season. He lasted four innings in his start before getting scratched on Sunday, then threw another 25 pitches in the bullpen immediately afterward.
"If I was a reliever I wouldn't be as worried. But being a starter you have to build up. If it's something I only have to wait a week, week and a half building myself back up won't be a big deal," Bolsinger said. "The last week and a half, If I get one start in, I think I'll be good to go."
But for now, Bolsinger won't pick up a baseball Monday, though knowing him he's bound to sneak a game of catch in somewhere. He said he even did dry work (going through his pitching motion without a ball) at home on Sunday night.
Roberts said Bolsinger will have to pass certain tests from the medical staff before being cleared to throw.
That puts Bolsinger in the same boat as Brandon Beachy, dealing with elbow inflammation and tendinitis. Beachy won't throw on Monday, but could as early as Tuesday, and isn't feeling pain when he throws anymore.
"Whether [Beachy] picks up a baseball tomorrow or Wednesday, he continues to get treatment," Roberts said. "He's down to where he gets the same feeling he gets after a start. There's no sharpness to anything in his arm."
That leaves Zach Lee, who was optioned on Sunday before Bolsinger was scratched but could easily rejoin the Dodgers in big league camp if needed.
"We're just trying to see where we're at regarding Mike. The reason we optioned [Lee] was to stretch him out. He needs to pitch. He's still in a holding pattern."
Lee last pitched on March 16, so if he doesn't throw on the minor league side in the next couple days he could be a candidate to start for the Dodgers on Thursday, after their only off day of the spring. That outing might also be a spot for Carlos Frias, who is back in the mix for fifth starter per Roberts and who threw 2⅔ innings on Sunday.
One pitcher not in the mix for fifth starter right now is Joe Blanton, who threw three innings on Sunday, his longest outing of the spring. Blanton had nine relief appearances of at least 2⅔ innings in 2015, and six more appearances of exactly two frames.
"We thought about [Blanton as a starter], but we think with his role where he's at, we like where he's at, he's comfortable," Roberts said.
So we are back where we were on Sunday, still sort of in a holding pattern as we figure out the status of various fifth starters, a race that might simply come down to who is healthiest and/or most available on the day or days needed.
The Dodgers do need a fifth starter in their fifth game, but thanks to off days on April 11 and April 18 can maneuver things such that they can use multiple people in those roles should they so choose, and utilize an extra roster spot on the days in between. One thing is certain though - Clayton Kershaw won't start on three days rest.
"Maybe every other day," Roberts joked.
But the fifth spot is Bolsinger's if he is healthy, which makes his injury sting a little more.
"The timing sucks. I felt like I had something good going. My arm felt great, and I felt like I was making an impact, earning my spot. Then something like this happens," Bolsinger said. "I just have to work on it aggressively and try to get this better as soon as possible."