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Why one wrong step (literally) is delaying Tony Gonsolin’s pursuit of ‘unfinished business’

Los Angeles, California October 3 2022-Dodgers pitcher Tony Gonsolin walks to the dugout.

Dodgers pitcher Tony Gonsolin will start the season on the injured list after spraining an ankle. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The injury looked so innocuous in the moment, Tony Gonsolin’s teammates initially chuckling at his one wrong step.

After a round of fielding drills for Dodgers pitchers on a backfield at Camelback Ranch earlier this month, Gonsolin was slowly trotting away from the mound when his left foot suddenly gave way on the infield grass, twisting his ankle and knocking him off balance.

At first, a group of fellow pitchers standing nearby found humor in the sight, razzing their feline-loving teammate for failing to land on his feet.

Within a few minutes, however, the mood became more serious.

Gonsolin grabbed at his ankle in obvious pain. He walked gingerly to the dugout to be checked by a trainer. Then he hopped in a golf cart and was driven away.

The pitcher, it turned out, had suffered a sprained ankle, and it could be a while before he appears in a game again.

Almost two weeks removed from the injury, manager Dave Roberts confirmed Friday that Gonsolin won’t be healthy in time for opening day.

“To say he’s gonna start the season,” Roberts said, “that’s not gonna happen.”

An exact timeline for Gonsolin’s return is unclear. If his recovery doesn’t speed up — which seems unlikely after Roberts cautioned multiple times it will be a “slow” process — the pitcher could be in danger of missing multiple starts to begin the season.

“Long-term, I don’t think it’s gonna be an issue,” Roberts said. “But that speaks to how we’re gonna handle this thing on the front end.”

Consider it one of nine lives burned for the so-called “Catman” — a freaky, ill-timed, literal misstep that won’t derail his 2023 season, but is delaying his pursuit of “unfinished business,” as Roberts termed it, from last year.

While Gonsolin had a career regular season in 2022 — he went 16-1 with a 2.14 ERA to earn his first All-Star selection — he was one of many Dodgers who failed to perform in their abrupt postseason elimination.

After missing most of September because of a forearm injury, Gonsolin flopped in his lone outing against the San Diego Padres, getting only four outs in a Game 3 start the Dodgers were hoping would last four innings.

While Gonsolin gave up just one run, his early exit helped put the team behind the eight ball for the rest of that game, which ended in a loss, and the series, which ended…

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