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Is it too early to be concerned about Hong-Chih Kuo?

Liyh7bnc Hmm, when do you start to worry?

Hong-Chih Kuo has appeared in five games this season. As sample sizes go, it’s barely a blip.

So, really, no one should get carried away with the hand-wringing. Still, it's May and there is no sign Kuo is close to resembling the lights-out reliever he was last season.

He just came off the disabled list Sunday, so it's easy to write off his performance -- one-third of an inning, four runs on two hits, a walk and a hit batter.

His control was off, his velocity down, his results unrecognizable as coming from the guy who last season fashioned a 1.20 earned-run average and walked 18 batters in 60 innings.

Now he has an unsightly 15.00 ERA and has walked five in three innings.

"I'm not perfect," Kuo said.

True, he spoiled us last season. He was nearly unhittable. Left-handed batters hit .095 against him. He threw like some gift from the baseball gods.

But this season, even before his ugly return Sunday, he had seldom resembled that dominant reliever of 2010. He did look a lot like the reliever who in 2009 had a bad case of the "yips," a sudden case of unexplained wildness where the ball could go most anywhere.

When Kuo went on the disabled list April 16 because of a back strain, Dodgers.com’s Ken Gurnick wrote that the team was concerned that Kuo also had a relapse of the yips.

Kuo said Sunday that his back is fine, so you have to wonder. Mechanical? Mental?

"I don't know," Kuo said. "I really don't know. When you struggle, you can say anything is wrong."

Like: He's wild and not throwing as hard.

"We have to see where we go from here," Manager Don Mattingly said. "Obviously we're not seeing the same velocity. You see it 93 [mph] here and there, but mostly more 90 and in that area, and it hasn't been in the past.

"I'm not exactly quite sure what it is."

When the yips surfaced in 2009, Kuo spent three months rehabbing in the minors before getting his confidence back and returning to the majors.

If closer Jonathan Broxton falters any more (4.76 ERA. .306 opponent batting average), it was assumed that Kuo would be next up as the Dodgers' closer, as he was last season when he saved 12 games.

Right now, however, the Dodgers are a long way from trusting Kuo. And, just maybe, plenty worried.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Hong-Chih Kuo #56 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws a pitch against the San Francisco Giants in the eighth inning on March 31, 2011 in L.A. Credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images

 
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Does this team even have a pitching coach? Don't know what's wrong with Kuo. Don't know what's wrong with Brox. Send down a perfectly good reliever and keep Cormier. Ruin young arms in Brazoban, Wade, Troncoso. Give up on McDonald. Set back Lindblom by trying to make him a starter. Can't babysit Belisario to make sure he gets a visa. Kersh and Billz should already be consistantly dominant, but aren't.
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This team is in far worse condition that anyone realizes. Conservatively, even with a new deep pockets owner this organization will take a minimum of 5 years to rehabilitate, possibly even 6-8.

So basically all we are really lacking is: a closer, a reliable bullpen, a lead-off hitter, an everyday 3B, an everyday 2B, an everyday SS, an everyday LF, and a solid (either offensively or defensively) catcher... Sounds like a wining roster to me!!

"Is it too early to be concerned about Hong Chih-Kuo?'

- naw, that would have been a couple of TJ's ago (Johns, not Simers.)


Perhaps the case whacky back & unrequited need for speed/location a matter of adjustments/overcompensation due prior incisions?


For whom the left elbow tolls? It tolls for Chih...

Does the team just want to turn a blind eye to this "yips" thing? Three months in '09 and they think it will just go away in a few weeks this time? Labeldude is spot-on with his comments. Honeycutt is the anti-pitching coach. Pitchers regress under him. Look at Jansen. Last year, he comes up and is lights out. Honeycutt gets some time with him in spring training and now he's struggling and in need of a second pitch?

@Labeldude: Last time I heard, it's not a pitching coach's job to make sure a guy has his visa in order. Belisario is a grown man, he should be able to keep his own house in order, and if he can't, he doesn't deserve the job.

Instead of wondering about what's happened to the pitchers, maybe we should be looking at the pitching COACH.

Why have so many of our pitchers deteriorated over the past few years, i.e., since Honeycutt was hired? I think he's been the problem all along. He should have been replaced at the end of Torre's reign along with Bowa, Schaeffer, Duncan, et al.

Sorry AB, didn't mean to imply Bunnynutts was responsible for Beli's visa issue in my rant above, but given his history and the fact that he obviously could help this team, SOMEONE in the organization could've held his hand. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for taking responsibilty for one's own actions, and Beli's certainly a big boy, but given this organization's lack of leadership, COULD'VE turned into HUH? Its not like there aren't scouts down in Venezuela who could check-up on him. Beli's immature, but the front office is just lazy.

Broxton has a fastball and a cutter. that is all! He is trying to throw the ball right down the middle of the plate. What is sad is that most people can hit if they time it right! Ask the Braves, Giants, Phillies etc.

Broxton's fastball is not electric like Kuo's. His is more like a heavy ball!

To answer the question, yes, it's still too early to be concerned about Kuo. Let's see what happens after another two or three outings. That said, his velocity is down, so I don't know what the deal is with that...maybe he doesn't want to really rear back yet. As for him being the closer, I thought that was off the table because, a) he can't pitch more than two days in a row, and, b) they (whoever the heck they are) are hesitant about overworking him due to his arm/shoulder injuries.

I think the Dodgers need to go get Greg Maddux to be the new pitching coach. Because Maddus knows the hitters of today not Honeycutt. Plus Billingsley and lilly played with with him on both clubs.

The Dodgers may have to find themselves a whole new bullpen, if everything keeps up as it is. What happened with Jeff Weaver? How come he wasn't asked back? I mentioned, last year, not to let Belisario go back home.

concern about Mr. "Yips"????
nawwwwwwww!


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