OKLAHOMA CITY — Tuesday night was another step in the process for relief pitcher Jimmy Nelson to return to the Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen.
On a cold, damp evening in Oklahoma City, the 33-year-old Nelson made his first regular-season appearance on a mound since undergoing Tommy John surgery in August of 2021. Nelson last pitched for the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 30 of that year and had a 1.86 ERA/1.89 FIP/0.931 WHIP in 29.0 innings over 28 games at the time of his injury.
Nelson has battled shoulder, back and elbow issues throughout his career, pitching just 51.0 innings since the end of the 2017 campaign. However, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has continued to voice his support for Nelson, even when the veteran right-hander struggled with command during spring training, helping the Dodgers make the decision for him to start the season in Triple-A.
Dodgers: Jimmy Nelson looks sharp in first Triple-A rehab assignment
Entering the game against Sacramento (the Triple-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants) in the sixth inning, Nelson would throw 16 pitches, with 10 of them going for strikes. Four of those balls came to the first batter that Nelson faced as he issued a walk to Colton Welker, then Ford Proctor followed with a single to right on the first pitch he saw. From there, however, Nelson buckled down and exit the frame unscathed, retiring the next three batters on a sacrifice bunt, groundout, and strikeout.
“At first, I think he was just trying to find command with his curveball,” said Dodgers catching prospect Hunter Feduccia, who has been drawing plenty of attention for his early-season play and was behind the plate for Nelson’s inning. “After a hitter or two, he started to find it and looked really good. The swings they were taking were pretty ugly, so he zoned it in and finished the inning strong.”
It’s still a journey back to the big leagues for Nelson, with an unclear timetable for a potential return, but Tuesday night was certainly a step that Dodgers fans were hoping to see during this rehab stint.