How much will Elian Herrera play for the Dodgers?

Elian HerreraElian Herrera will be available to the Dodgers off the bench today and manager Don Mattingly hinted that Herrera would spell Dodgers left fielder Carl Crawford or right fielder Andre Ethier in the starting lineup tomorrow.

Ethier hasn’t been given a day off by the manager (not the schedule) since April 7, Crawford since getting back to back days off on April 30 and May 1. That’s weighed on Mattingly lately, though he acknowledged that the injuries to Jerry Hairston Jr. and Mark Ellis last week left him little choice until both players ultimately went on the 15-day disabled list.

“We’ve had a lot of guys hurt and it’s like we just keep throwing everybody else out there,” Mattingly said. “We want to have that option on the left-hander, to give Carl or Dre a day off.”

The Dodgers will see a left-hander, Wade Miley, tomorrow in the series finale against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Which of the two will get a day off is anyone’s guess. The numbers don’t offer much of a clue, since both Crawford and Ethier are hitting left-handers better this season than right-handers.

Crawford owns a .345/.424/.552 slash line (BA/OBP/OPS) against lefties and .295/.360/.500 against righties this season. Ethier is hitting .250/.298/.432 against lefties and .234/.364/.328 against righties.

One other possibility is that Herrera will go back to Triple-A before he gets his first major-league start.

That’s because Mattingly didn’t rule out bringing back Scott Van Slyke, who is batting .393 with a team-leading nine home runs and 28 RBIs at Triple-A Albuquerque this season. Van Slyke would need to be added to the 40-man roster before he can be called up, but the Dodgers can make room by transferring Chad Billingsley (who’s out for the season following Tommy John surgery) from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL.

Van Slyke would offer more power than Herrera, and Mattingly said he was “a little bit” concerned with the lack of power off the bench.

However, Van Slyke has played exclusively first base this season after splitting time between first base, left and right in the past. Mattingly said that Van Slyke would play the outfield in the next few days. So he could return to Los Angeles later in the week; Van Slyke batted .167 in 27 games for the Dodgers last season.

Update (6:30 p.m.): Van Slyke is starting in right field for the Isotopes today.

Asked if recalling Yasiel Puig from Double-A was a possibility, Mattingly said, “Puig’s a whole different story.”

Because of Puig’s recent reckless driving arrest?

“It’s not even that.”

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About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.