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Dodgers Pitcher Kenley Jansen On Blood Thinners and Disabled List

Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Kenley Jansen reacts after striking out Colorado Rockies Dexter Fowler to win in the ninth during a baseball game in Los Angeles, Tuesday, July 26, 2011. The Dodgers won 3-2. (AP Photo/Jason Redmond)
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A bum ticker ain’t no laughing matter. And when the ticker-in-question belongs to the 23-year old Dodgers’ relief pitcher Kenley Jansen, the gravity of the situation is amplified.

“This really was a health issue in regards to something way past baseball and sports,” Dodgers’ head trainer Stan Conte said.

Following his seven-pitch save Tuesday night against the Colorado Rockies, Jansen was taken to White Memorial Hospital after complaining about a fluttering heartbeat. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Friday by the Dodgers.

“You feel your heart beating, and it’s almost like three different heartbeats,” Jansen recounted. “The top one is beating fast and the one down is kind of like beating out of control.”

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Without feeling and dizziness or difficulty breathing, Jansen wasn’t scared until Conte and team physician Mary Gendy told him he needed to go to the hospital.

“They did an EKG and told me they wanted me to go to the hospital,” Jansen said. “Then it was like, ‘What’s going on?’”

He was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, the most common cardiac arrhythmia, and had to undergo cardioconversion under the watch of cardiologist Tony Nguyen to shock his heart back to a regular rhythm.

For the medical staff the concern wasn’t the irregular heartbeat - although common in people, it isn’t particular common with 23-year olds. “The issue became the aftercare,” Conte said. “His heart is fine. The question was what do we do with the next three weeks.”

With Dr. Nguyen’s, Dr. Sumeet Chugh of the Cedar-Sinai Heart Institute and five other informal inquiries to cardiologists across the country, it was decided to put Jansen on blood thinners for the next three weeks to prevent blood clots in his heart.

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“There were some cardiologists who felt that it wasn’t necessary, others that thought it was,” Conte said stressing that it was merely preventative.

“We’re just making sure we don’t take any chances,” Dodgers’ Manager Don Mattingly said.

For Jansen, who had been plowing down the competition with a 16-inning scoreless streak, this hiccup is a bit frustrating.

“But at the same time you’ve got to take care of your health first,” Jansen said.

Jansen will be able to toss in his normal bullpen sessions and will have no restrictions to his physical activities, however will be kept away from the playing field to prevent from getting hit in the head.

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“With blood thinners you can’t put somebody in harm’s way in regards to getting potentially hit in the head,” Conte said. “Blood thinners are designed to reduce clotting and that can cause problems.”

This is a wakeup call for Jansen who has a family history of diabetes and blood pressure. He told reporters that his grandmother suffers from heart problems.

“I’m definitely going to change my diet. I want to stay healthy a long time.”

Right-handed pitcher Josh Lindblom was called up from Double-A Chattanooga to fill in for Jansen. Lindblom had been dominating the Southern League with a 1.29 ERA in ten July games.

Trading Blues Although it has hardly been mentioned here, it’s hard to ignore the persistent rumors of starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda getting traded to a contender.

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“I don’t think my emotions are in a normal state,” Kuroda said through interpreter Kenji Nimura. “I’m confused about the whole situation.”

The rumor mill has Kuroda going to the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers or Cleveland Indians. Kuroda has a full no-trade clause and has not given a list of teams he would allow a trade.

In previous days, Kuroda has expressed his desire to stay in Los Angeles. After Wednesday’s loss, he told reporters, “My honest feeling right now is I cannot fathom thinking about wearing another uniform.”

Prior to Friday’s game, he backtracked a little bit. In response to most questions by reporters about the trade rumors, he repeated, “It’s really difficult to comment on that right now,” Kuroda repeated.

Can you comment on any potential teams you would wind up with? “I don’t’ have anything to comment on right now.”

Would it be easier to comment if the Dodgers gave you any run support? “I’d rather keep my mouth shut.”

Would you like to be traded so you can get away from L.A. Times beat writer Dylan Hernandez? “No comment.”

This is unfamiliar territory for Kuroda who played for the Hiroshima Carp all 11 seasons he was in the Japan Leagues. Perhaps that is why he’s been so thoughtful and hesitant in all of his responses to reporters.

“It’s the crucial crossroads you encounter in your baseball career,” Kuroda mused. “I’d rather no answer any questions lightly.

“I have a lot to think about. The only thing that’s certain is that nothing is certain.”