For now, Dodgers are managing some vulnerabilities

Andre Ethier was back in center field Friday night, Carl Crawford might be on deck to relieve him at some point, Miguel Rojas was at shortstop and reliever Paul Maholm was the starting pitcher.

Just like the Dodgers drew it up in spring training, right?

Well, not exactly.

But hey, with the All-Star break beckoning and first place a matter of percentage points, whatever the Dodgers are doing manning some key positions seems to be working.

The question is can they keep mixing and matching their way to a division crown or Wild Card berth and a prolonged postseason run?

‘Yeah. I mean, were there right now,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly pointed out. “We’re not really where we want to be because we haven’t got to the end of the year. But as we sit here today we’re right in the race and we’ve been doing it all year, so I don’t know why we can’t keep doing it.”

That all remains to be seen of course. As summer gives way to fall and every pitch and out and executed play takes on more meaning we’ll see if the Dodgers are adequately situated defensively, most notably at shortstop and center field.

Plenty depends on a clean bill of health for Hanley Ramirez, although his play at shortstop has been waning for some time.

And that was before the flurry of injuries he’s dealt with.

As for center field, Matt Kemp quickly showed he wasn’t capable of providing sufficient defense and Ethier and back-up Scott Van Slyke are nobody’s fleet-footed defenders.

That’s one of the reason Crawford’s begun taking fly balls in center field after Kemp’s switch to left field put Crawford on the bench.

Speed and agility wise, Crawford should be able to handle the position if need be.

But then, Crawford’s left arm is a veteran of Tommy John surgery so the thought of him making throws from deep center field probably has opposing base runners smiling broadly as they sharpen their spikes.

Point is, with runs and outs at a premium – especially later in the year – can the Dodgers afford such vulnerability?

Mattingly simply points to the calendar and his club’s place in the standings and proof they can work around whatever weaknesses they may have.

“It means we have to be smart. We have to position. We have to move counts and things like that,” Mattingly said. “But I think we’re capable of doing that.”

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