Injury stops Tony Gonsolin from chasing unfinished business

At the time, the injury looked so harmless that Tony Gonsolin’s teammates initially scoffed at his one wrong move.

After a round of field exercises Dodgers pitchers in the back field of Camelback Ranch earlier this month, Gonsolin was slowly pulling away from the mound when his left leg suddenly buckled on the grass in the infield, sprained my ankle and throwing him off balance.

At first, a group of pitchers nearby thought it was funny, angering their feline teammate for not being able to land on his feet.

However, after a few minutes, the mood became more serious.

Gonsolin clutched his ankle in sheer pain. He carefully approached the dugout to be checked by the trainer. He then jumped into a golf cart and drove away.

As it turns out, the pitcher has a sprained ankle and it may be some time before he reappears in the game.

Nearly two weeks removed from injury, manager Dave Roberts confirmed on Friday that Gonsolin will not be healthy by opening time.

“To say he’s going to start the season,” Roberts said, “that’s not going to happen.”

The exact timing of Gonsolin’s return is unclear. If his recovery doesn’t speed up — which seems unlikely after Roberts repeatedly warned it would be a “slow” process — the pitcher could be in danger of missing several starts early in the season.

“Long term, I don’t think this will be a problem,” Roberts said. “But it speaks to how we’re going to handle this front-line thing.”

Consider it one of nine lives burned for the so-called “Catman” – a bizarre, untimely, literal gaffe that won’t derail his 2023 season but delay his pursuit of “unfinished business,” as Roberts called it. since last year.

While Gonsolin had a career regular season in 2022 – he went 16-1 with a 2.14 ERA to earn his first All-Star selection – he was one of the many Dodgers who failed to perform in his sudden elimination. in the postseason.

After missing most of September with a forearm injury, Gonsolin flopped in his only game against the San Diego Padres, getting only four strikeouts in the opening Game 3 that the Dodgers had hoped would last four innings.

While Gonsolin gave up just one try, his early exit helped the team fall behind the eighth ball for the remainder of that game, which ended in a loss and a streak that ended in a staggering four-game defeat the night after.

The disappointment continued into Gonsolin’s offseason, the latest in a string of playoff disappointments for the four-year veteran.

“It sucks,” he said when asked about how he ended the year after his first and only Cactus League start this spring on March 3rd. “It seems to me that I did it in a row in 2021 and 22. “

Gonsolin turned setbacks into motivation by setting personal goals for 2023.

“Go wall to wall,” said Gonsolin. “Go from start to finish.”

The beginning, now, was difficult.

While Gonsolin turned down numerous requests from reporters last week to discuss his injury, Roberts said the 28-year-old’s displeasure was evident.

“You work all off-season to get to a certain point to get into camp and then fail at the start, yeah, he’s frustrated,” Roberts said.

Asked how Gonsolin’s accidental ankle rolling ranks among the injuries he’s seen in his career, Roberts admitted it was “there”.

“It was something very, obviously, harmless,” Roberts said. “For a guy like Tony to have something like this happen, to be still costly, it’s very bizarre.”

It will now be up to Gonsolin and the Dodgers to ensure that the pitcher stays ready for a strong comeback and eventually finishes before 2023, when he will once again serve as the team’s starting rotation anchor.

“Tony was talking about finishing the race or finishing the season strong, that’s still in the game,” Roberts said. “But I think it’s very important to make sure we stop it and don’t delay it.”

The Dodgers pitching coaches were trying to find a different balance prior to Gonsolin’s injury, focusing on the day to day, looking for overall improvements that could be made from last season.

“It’s all about keeping things in perspective,” assistant pitching coach Connor McGuinness said. “I think it’s frustrating for all of us, and certainly for him, that he spent the year he had and then had a little hiccup at the end. So I know what’s in front of my eyes. … But we just don’t want him to think too much about the future. If he just puts up with it day in and day out, we know he will be an outstanding player for us.”

After two-plus scoreless innings in his Cactus League debut earlier this month, Gonsolin felt like he was making such progress.

“I had a better understanding of what I was preparing for,” he said. “Just figuring out a routine, a day to day routine and being able to build your body in a way that can handle the load of innings.”

Dodgers starter Tony Gonsolin warms up before the first inning of a spring practice game against the Angels.

Dodgers starter Tony Gonsolin warms up before the first half of a spring practice game against the Angels on March 3 in Tempe, Arizona.

(Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press)

While this work is on hold, Gonsolin’s main goals for this season – steadily improving throughout the campaign and showing the best results when it matters – remain unchanged.

This is an important step in his fast-paced career.

He’ll be hoping things go smoother than what left him with a sore ankle that will delay the start of his season.

“As long as we stay on the same page with him, he’s fine,” McGuinness said. “He’s an absolute beast. He’ll be back there soon.”