By the way, Hillenbrand is fitting right into this team so far. He came on after Nomar got ejected, and in his first at-bat, with runners on first and second and one out in the sixth, and promptly GIDP’d. Welcome to the Dodgers. … Astros 4, Dodgers 1, bottom 7
By Tony Jackson
Dodgers manager Grady Little held a closed-door meeting with his struggling club before Monday night’s game with Houston. The floor was not open for questions, comments or any input whatsoever by anyone not named Grady Little.
“It was like a baseball chapel, and I was the preacher,” Little said.
The Dodgers limped home from the Midwest having lost 17 of their past 24 games and with the offense having scored a pathetic 19 runs in the past 10 games. That lack of production has led to almost everyone in the lineup pressing, and that, more than anything else, was the reason Little felt compelled to call the meeting.
“(The key is) for each individual to just do their job better,” Little said. “I think in a lot of ways, what might make something like this last longer is everybody trying to be that one person who carries us. It takes everyone doing their part. It doesn’t work for one person to say, `Jump on my shoulders, here we go.”’
Little continued to hint that roster changes might be in store if the malaise continues. Truthfully, though, the club is running out of alternatives, especially with six players on the major-league disabled list and two top prospects on either the disabled or inactive list in the minors.
The meeting came just before the punchless Dodgers had to deal with Astros ace Roy Oswalt, one of the toughest starting pitchers in the league and not exactly a viable target for that one offensive explosion the Dodgers keep saying they need to right themselves.
“It was the type of meeting I’m not really fond of having on a night when we’re facing Roy Oswalt,” Little said. “But we needed to talk about some things and see if we can’t get it going. We’re going through some tough times right now, and we will get through it.”
Roster move: The Dodgers did make a change just before game time, purchasing the contract of veteran infielder Shea Hillenbrand from Triple-A Las Vegas and optioning outfielder Delwyn Young to Las Vegas. The Dodgers signed Hillenbrand last week, just after he was released by San Diego after going 5 for 34 for the Padres’ Triple-A Portland affiliate.
Hillenbrand, 32, began the season with the Angels but was released after hitting just .254 in 53 games. A right-handed batter, he has a career .285 average in seven big-league seasons.
Young was hitting .500 (7 for 14) since his July 31 callup, but he had appeared in just eight games during that stretch and started just twice.
Rotation change: Struggling left-hander Mark Hendrickson is out of the starting rotation
again after giving up eight earned runs in 2 2/3 innings in Sunday’s loss at St. Louis. But because Hendrickson will be available out of the bullpen starting tonight, the Dodgers are OK for now with an 11-man pitching staff.
Little wouldn’t say who will take Hendrickson’s spot on Friday night against Colorado, but he did say it was someone not presently on the 25-man roster. That probably means it will be lefty Eric Stults, who was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas on July 23, even though Stults has a 7.56 ERA for the 51s and lasted just 2 1/3 innings on Friday night against Sacramento. He gave up six earned runs and walked five batters in that game.
Right-hander D.J. Houlton would be a candidate, but he was optioned last Friday and must stay at least 10 days unless a major-league pitcher goes onto the disabled list.