Tigers hoping to take advantage of injury-plagued Dodgers in Los Angeles

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

The Dodgers might be richer than Switzerland, but even a $229 million payroll has its limits.

The Tigers' fanbase went into mini-panic mode before the regular season began, when Andy Dirks, Jose Iglesias, and Bruce Rondon were all sidelined for significant amounts of time. However, these injury concerns pale in comparison to other teams, and they will face one of said clubs this week. The Los Angeles Dodgers have been bitten hard by the injury bug, leaving them somewhat shorthanded for the upcoming two game series.

The biggest name on the shelf for the Dodgers is reigning NL Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw. After starting the team's opener in Australia, Kershaw was placed on the disabled list with an upper back injury. His return date is still unknown -- it sounds like a lat injury, for what it's worth -- but he will not be re-evaluated for another week or two.

While not technically on the disabled list, superstar outfielder Yasiel Puig strained his left thumb while sliding into first base on Saturday. He missed Sunday night's game against the San Francisco Giants, though it is unclear whether or not he would have been available to pinch hit had the team needed him. On a related note, it says something when you can replace your top outfielder from 2013 with the guy that should have won the 2011 NL MVP in Matt Kemp, who finally appears to be fully healthy.

Late last night, the Dodgers announced that starting catcher A.J. Ellis would undergo surgery to repair a torn meniscus. The news came as a big surprise to their fans, and leaves them with a catching tandem of Drew Butera and Tim Fedorowicz for the next couple months.

Setup man (and nearly the Tigers' closer) Brian Wilson was placed on the 15-day disabled list shortly after his poor outing against the San Diego Padres on March 30. Wilson was diagnosed with nerve irritation in his right elbow, which explains his poor velocity and location during his only action of the season. He failed to record an out, allowing three runs in a span of five batters.

Right-hander Josh Beckett is slated to come off the disabled list for a Wednesday start, barring any setbacks from an ankle injury suffered during Spring Training. He had a successful bullpen session over the weekend, but still reported some swelling in his right ankle. If Beckett is unable to pitch for some reason, Hyun-jin Ryu may make his fourth start of the season in Beckett's place. The Dodgers were hoping to give Ryu a couple extra days off -- they are also off on Thursday -- in order to manage his workload.

Unlike Beckett, Chad Billingsley's rehab start did not go as planned. He left his first rehab start after Tommy John surgery in the second inning, citing an uncomfortable sensation in his elbow. Billingsley was scheduled to have five rehab starts before getting coming off the DL, and the team has not updated his prognosis as of this point.

Despite all of this talent (and payroll) on the mend, the Dodgers are still one of the most talented teams in baseball. The upcoming two game series could very easily be a preview of this year's World Series, though one would hope that both teams are healthier come October.

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