The Dodgers reinstated relief pitcher Brusdar Graterol from the injured list on Friday, then optioned him to Triple-A Oklahoma City, ending his minor league rehab assignment with the same team.
Graterol had been sidelined since April 29 with right forearm tightness, and only pitched two games with OKC on his rehab assignment. He retired all six batters he faced in those outings, but in the first he threw more balls than strikes then on Thursday he struck out the side while throwing only three outside the strike zone.
After that first rehab outing Monday, which followed Graterol throwing to rehabbing Cody Bellinger and Zach McKinstry in batting practice on May 28 in El Paso, Dave Roberts was asked about Graterol’s timeline for a return to the majors.
“Some of it is contingent on the build-up. Some of it is contingent on performance. Some of it is contingent on need here. We really could go in a couple different directions,” Roberts said Tuesday. “I think it’s keep him on the rehab for however long that is, and then we’ll make a decision at a later date.”
Minor league rehab assignments for pitchers can last up to 30 days. Graterol’s lasted four. The direction the Dodgers chose was to keep a now-healthy right-hander in the minors for the moment, which probably makes sense for someone who has pitched only sporadically this year. He’ll just do so while earning a minor league salary instead of his major league rate.
“Brusdar was obviously a huge part of what we did last year. He’s going to be a huge part of what we’re going to do this year,” Roberts said Saturday. “We just feel like right now, where he’s at, it’s a finishing school.
“The slider is not as consistent as it needs to be to get major league hitters out consistently. The sinker is not commanded the way it needs to be. The option allows for him to have a clear path to go out there, pitch regularly, get the sinker down in the zone and continue to work on that slider. When he does that, I expect to see him.”
Graterol did not pitch in a game during spring training, then started the season on the injured list with an undisclosed reason, missing the first 15 games.
“There’s a lot of things that took place this winter for Brusdar that didn’t allow for him to prepare like he normally would have, as far as throwing bullpens to prepare for spring training. The last thing we want to do is speed him up when he’s not ready,” Roberts said during spring training. “The main thing is that we just want him to be healthy and progress the right way.”
On Saturday, Roberts said, “Some of the things were out of Brusdar’s control, and some things, quite frankly, were in his control. But it’s where we’re at right now.”
Graterol has only faced 15 batters in competitive action this season, plus whatever games he might have pitched at the alternate site in Arizona during the first few weeks of the season. He allowed three runs in his three major league appearances, and walked two of his nine batters faced, after walking only three of 88 batters faced last year as a rookie.
So he could probably use a few more innings under his belt before getting called back up. If he continues to pitch like he did on Thursday, he’ll be back in the majors soon enough.