LOS ANGELES (AP) - The Los Angeles Dodgers activated reliever Hong-Chih Kuo from the 15-day disabled list and optioned hard-throwing Kenley Jansen to Double-A Chattanooga.
Kuo made only four appearances before a lower back strain on his left side landed the left-hander on the DL for the fifth time in the last five seasons.
He made a career-high 56 appearances last season, sporting a 1.20 ERA - the lowest among relievers - with 73 strikeouts in 60 innings and just 18 walks. His only full season in the majors was 2008.
"Kuo's ready. We wouldn't have activated him if we didn't feel like he was ready," manager Don Mattingly said before Sunday's game against San Diego. "He's obviously been pretty special for a long time. This gives Kenley a chance to go down and keep working and getting better.
"We really look at Kenley as being a big part of the future," Mattingly added. "At some point this year, he's going to be back here and he's going to be contributing. And in the long run, I think we see Kenley as a guy that has a chance to be really special."
Jansen, who still qualifies as a rookie, appeared in 25 games last year for the Dodgers and had 41 strikeouts in 27 innings with a 0.67 ERA. But the 23-year-old right-hander has a 7.43 ERA in 11 appearances this season, allowing 11 earned runs, 13 hits and eight walks in 13 1-3 innings.
"It was a tough conversation," Mattingly said. "Kenley's biggest (problem) is that he has (minor league) options at this point. He's had a couple of rough games, so there's still room for improvement. You've like to see him find a more consistent secondary pitch - either use his changeup or his breaking ball enough to keep them off-balance. He's pretty fastball dominant right now. We definitely want him to pitch in pressure situations down there, where the game's down the line."
Mattingly explained the reason behind demoting Jansen and keeping middle reliever Lance Cormier on the 25-man roster was to have someone handy to eat up innings in one-sided games, which would allow the late-inning relievers to stay fresher.
"Cormier kind of understands his role, from the standpoint that there's days where we've abused him and left him out there for three innings in a game that's out of hand and protect everybody else in the bullpen," Mattingly said. "That keeps us from having to burn other guys with an inning so that it hurts us the next day. I mean, he doesn't seem nearly as valuable when your starters are going seven. But when you do need him, it's like, 'I'm glad we had him today, because he basically saved the other guys and we'll be at full strength tomorrow.' So he is a valuable piece."