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Tony Gonsolin won’t return to Dodgers until May, Ryan Pepiot hasn’t thrown in 2 weeks

MLB: Spring Training-Los Angeles Dodgers at Los Angeles Angels Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

We can cross out Tony Gonsolin returning to the Dodgers in late April as originally hoped, with Dodgers manager Dave Roberts telling reporters on Monday in San Francisco that the All-Star starter won’t be ready until into May, recovering slowly from a sprained left ankle.

And it will be a while as well for Ryan Pepiot, who has yet to throw a baseball a week and a half after landing on the injured list with a strained left oblique.

Roberts said Gonsolin threw two innings in a game Monday at Camelback Ranch, then a third inning in the bullpen. Up next is another bullpen before a three-inning outing. Gonsolin will stay at Camelback Ranch for “another 2-3 weeks,” Roberts said before going on a minor league rehab assignment, per SportsNet LA.

Gonsolin sprained his left ankle during a backfield drill on March 6 during spring training, but residual swelling and soreness has elongated the process. During the Freeway Series on March 27, three days before opening day, Roberts said the hope was for Gonsolin to return in late April, if things progressed well.

Now, “into May” could men that original timetable for Gonsolin is pushed back only a week or so, but it’s clear the Dodgers are being cautious with the right-hander.

As for Pepiot, he left a spring training start in March 17 against the Cubs after only three innings with discomfort in his side, but was deemed healthy enough to make his next two spring starts before feeling something in his left oblique.

On opening day, when Pepiot was placed on the injured list, he said he was glad they caught it early, though common sense dictates that there’s no such thing as a short stint on the IL with an oblique strain. Tuesday will mark two weeks since that last spring start, and Pepiot still hasn’t thrown a baseball since.

“Given that we had all confidence that he was over it from that one Mesa start, to sit here where we’re at is certainly unfortunate,” Roberts said Monday.

No Gonsolin and no Pepiot for at least three more weeks puts more of a spotlight on the starting rotation depth, When Pepiot landed on the injured list, that opened the door for Michael Grove as the fifth starter.

Back on March 31, Roberts said of Grove runway, “Some of it has to do with performance. Some of it has to do with the roster and where we’re at with that. But I think two to three starts is pretty safe.”

Grove’s first two starts have been quite bad, though he was battling an illness before allowing three runs in four innings last Monday against the Rockies. On Sunday in Arizona, Grove was torched by the D-backs for nine runs against 10 outs, after which Roberts told reporters Grove would start again this coming weekend against the Cubs.

But given that we won’t see Gonsolin nor Pepiot until some time in May, the Dodgers will need that fifth starter spot to make at least three or four starts after this weekend.

The only other healthy starting option on the 40-man roster is Andre Jackson, who is already in the bullpen and who hasn’t thrown more than three innings since March 16 during a B game in spring training. Gavin Stone, the best option among Dodgers minor leaguers, will start Tuesday for Triple-A Oklahoma City.

For what it’s worth, Roberts on Monday seemed to give a vote of confidence for Grove to remain in the rotation in the short term, given the limited options.

From Bill Plunkett at the Orange County Register:

“It is a performance league,” Roberts said. “But I also think that opportunities are still warranted. What that means right now, given what we have with the other two guys we talked about on the IL, I think that (Grove) deserves and will get more leash.”