Tommy Kahnle’s return could put him in prominent postseason role for Dodgers

SAN FRANCISCO — The return from Tommy John surgery is not always a straight line.

Tommy Kahnle thought he had recovered from his August 2020 procedure when he joined the Dodgers in May and pitched in a major league game for the first time in nearly 20 months.

He wasn’t.

“I feel like last time I came back I just thought maybe it was just based off Tommy John stuff,” Kahnle said of the discomfort he felt. “I was feeling a little achey in the forearm. I just thought it was part of it and kept going until I couldn’t go anymore.

“This time rehabbing, I finally feel like I’m back to where I was pre-surgery.”

Kahnle made four appearances with the Dodgers in May before going back on the injured list for another four months.

“It took about five weeks for it to go kind of almost all away,” Kahnle said. “When I started throwing again, it (the pain) was gone. I pretty much felt like I was good. I would say I felt like I was back to where I was pre-surgery, I want to say it was my first or second live (session throwing to hitters) that I felt like I was ready.”

Kahnle said he felt like he was pitching “how I used to” when he returned to throw a 1-2-3 inning in Arizona on Wednesday, striking out two batters with the combination of high 90s fastballs and an exceptional changeup.

If Kahnle continues to pitch that way, he figures to be an important part of the Dodgers’ postseason bullpen.

“He’s essentially a two-pitch pitcher,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “It’s an 80 change (on the 20-80 scouting scale). But you still have to be able to mix in a fastball and have them respect it. So it doesn’t have to be completely dotted. But I do think that his ability to strike the fastball when needed is going to help the changeup play up even more.

“What we saw the last outing was very good, and we’ll continue to manage his workload. But we’re expecting him to be a leverage guy for us.”

GONSOLIN PROGRESS

Right-hander Tony Gonsolin said he is “definitely making progress” in his recovery from a strained forearm that sidelined him in late August.

“The initial process took a little longer than expected – than I think we all wanted it to,” Gonsolin said Friday. “But now I’m throwing bullpens and stuff and the bounceback’s actually been pretty good. I’m not getting any more sore than I did before.”

Gonsolin is scheduled to throw another bullpen session Saturday, building up from the 24 pitches he threw Wednesday in Arizona. Gonsolin said he is not sure when he will be ready to get back in games but Roberts has already talked to him about the potential for his role to change in the postseason.

“I had a conversation with Doc about it,” Gonsolin said. “There’s definitely different routes and forks in the road and we have to figure out which I may take. The goal is just getting to that fork and deciding then.”

ARIZONA PROSPECTS

The rosters for the 2022 Arizona Fall League teams were announced Friday and seven Dodgers prospects will be playing for the Glendale Desert Dogs, including outfielder Andy Pages, infielder Jorbit Vivas and right-hander Hyun-Il Choi, the 2021 Branch Rickey Award winner as the Dodgers’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

The six-team league will begin play on Oct. 3 and MLB’s new rules will be in place – a pitch clock, restrictions on defensive shifts and larger bases. Some games will also feature the Automated Ball-Strike system.

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The other Dodgers prospects expected to play are pitchers Tanner Dodson, Ben Harris and Emmet Sheehan and outfielder Jose Ramos.

ALSO

Infielder Gavin Lux got five at-bats and played defense in an instructional league game at Camelback Ranch on Thursday and rejoined the Dodgers in San Francisco on Friday. Roberts said Lux will start at second base on Saturday, his first game action with the Dodgers since Sept. 1 due to a neck/upper back injury. …

Veteran reliever Heath Hembree cleared waivers and was assigned to Triple-A after being designated for assignment last week. Hembree instead elected free agency. …

Right-hander Michael Grove is still with the Dodgers and will start one of the games in Tuesday’s doubleheader against Arizona at Dodger Stadium.

UP NEXT

Dodgers (LHP Julio Urias, 16-7, 2.30 ERA) at Giants (TBA), Saturday, 6:10 p.m., SportsNet LA, 570 AM