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Tony Gonsolin’s opening day availability in question after ankle sprain

Dave Roberts: “It’s going to be a few days before he picks up a baseball. Every day that lingers obviously is going to cost us on the back end.”

MLB: Spring Training-Los Angeles Dodgers Workouts Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

The left ankle sprain Tony Gonsolin suffered during workouts on Monday morning is worse than originally thought, it seems. Or at least the Dodgers right-hander is not progressing as quickly as hoped, manager Dave Roberts told reporters at Camelback Ranch on Wednesday.

“He’s still swelling, obviously, still tender. We had an X-ray to rule out any type of fracture. Now I guess it’s just day to day,” Roberts said. “It’s going to be a few days before he picks up a baseball. Every day that lingers obviously is going to cost us on the back end.”

Gonsolin pitched 2⅓ innings and threw 41 pitches in his Cactus League debut last Friday against the Angels, and was originally scheduled to start again Wednesday night against the Mariners at Camelback Ranch before his ankle sprain scuttled those plans.

With the Dodgers exhibition schedule running through March 28, there are only 20 days remaining in spring training. Considering the usual progression for starting pitchers is to last one inning longer in each successive spring start, Gonsolin would likely need at least three more games to get properly stretched out for a normal regular season outing.

Roberts was asked Wednesday if there was concern that Gonsolin could miss opening day.

“I don’t want to get ahead of it, but it’s not something we feel really good about right now. We’ll just kind of see how it goes each day, and hopefully it progresses sooner than not,” Roberts said. “I don’t think we’ve gotten that far out. Days you don’t pick up a baseball to then when you’ve got to ramp back up, how much you’ve lost, working back from opening day. Right now we’re trying to do a full-court press, getting the ankle back to full strength where he can bear weight.”

Moving Gonsolin to the fifth spot in the opening rotation would mean a first start on April 3 against the Rockies at Dodger Stadium. Moving backward from that, he’d probably need to start an exhibition game by at least March 18 in order to get three warmup outings to properly stretch out, and that’s if Gonsolin isn’t essentially starting over after missing more than a week by that point.

The Dodgers are likely just being cautious at this point, and if Gonsolin’s ankle improves in the next week he’ll still be on track once the season starts. But considering Roberts’ usually optimistic outlook, if he’s questioning Gonsolin’s availability for opening day, things don’t look too promising.