Today’s rehabilitation assignment begins Carl Crawford’s road back to the Los Angeles, but his arrival is sure to create a traffic jam.
Expected to finish his recovery from a strained left hamstring with four games for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga, Crawford will join a Dodgers outfield including the game’s hottest hitter and two cornerstones of the franchise.
The question is, how will Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, rookie sensation Yasiel Puig and Crawford coexist in one outfield?
“I wouldn’t want to be the one making the decisions about who’s going to play,” Dodgers utility man Jerry Hairston Jr. said. “But it’s a good problem to have.”
One day after he allowed five runs in two innings to swell his earned-run average to 6.35, the Dodgers optioned right-handed reliever Peter Moylan to Triple-A Albuquerque.
Called up to take his place in the bullpen was Jose Dominguez, a 22-year-old with a 100-mph fast ball. The right-hander is highly regarded, but began the season serving a 25-game suspension for violation of the minor league drug prevention program. The specifics of his violation are unknown.
Luis Cruz and Don Mattingly were using the same term, but referencing entirely different things.
In every sense of the word, the Dodgers infielder’s timing was right on Tuesday.
With his days on the parent club’s roster seemingly numbered as Hanley Ramirez works his way back from a hamstring injury, Cruz produced his first extra-base hit of the season when he needed it most. The timing of the 29-year-old’s two-run home run in the fifth inning of Tuesday’s 3-0 win over the Angels couldn’t have been better, according to Mattingly.
The Dodgers manager was grateful it gave his team a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. Cruz was happy the timing of his plant foot and his swing were properly coordinated, something that has been plaguing him during a season-long slump during which his batting average has ranged from .087 to .115.
Matt Kemp’s frustration was nearly as obvious in his postgame interview as it was when he was yelling in manager Don Mattingly’s general direction after being pulled in the seventh inning of the Dodgers’ 5-3 win over the St. Louis Caridnals Saturday.
Six times Kemp used the phrase “bad at-bat” in reference to his inning-ending strikeout with two runners on base in the sixth inning of a one-run game. Both Kemp and Mattingly said independently that the center fielder wasn’t shouting at his manager when he exited in a double-switch.
“I was just frustrated,” Kemp said. “It had been a bad day for me. I didn’t do much to help the team win. It’s over now.”
Given the deluge of speculation that Don Mattingly will be fired, the Dodgers manager is happy not to have a choice in one matter.
It’s certainly unconventional to start four consecutive left-handed pitchers, but when Clayton Kershaw starts tomorrow’s series finale with the St. Louis Cardinals, the Dodgers will have done so for the first time in four years. Hyun-Jin Ryu picked up a win on Wednesday, Chris Capuano a loss in the series opener against the Cardinals Friday with Ted Lilly going today.
“It’s kind of like having all righties in the bullpen,” Mattingly said. “For us right now, it’s been our healthiest guys. If I had four Kershaws, would you not like that? It’s just how we’re throwing the baseball, not too much that it’s a lot of lefties.”