Carl Crawford in center field for Dodgers? Looks like it could happen

Depending on how you look at it, Carl Crawford taking fly balls in center field is either a noble gesture by a player wanting to do anything he can for the team or a harsh reminder just how thin the Dodgers are in one of the most defensive challenging positions on the field.

The answer is it’s a little bit of both.

With no one taking charge of the position – be it because of injury or ineffectiveness – the Dodgers have restored to manning center field by committee.

That typically means Andre Ethier and on occasion Scott Van Slyke, neither of whom will be mistaken for your quintessential center fielder. As for Matt Kemp, who began the year in center field, he’s now in left field – a move necessitated by Kemp’s noticeable loss of speed and agility after suffering through two injury riddled seasons.

Now you can add Crawford to the mix. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly dropped that little nugget on everyone Saturday when he revealed Crawford has begun getting work in in center.

“ He played it in the minor leagues and in Tampa and they kind of moved him. But I think with our situation there’s nothing wrong with him going out there and taking some fly balls,” Mattingly said. You never know what can happen. So, you know, we encouraged him to do a little work out there.”

While Crawford brings the much-needed element of speed to center, his arm strength is severely diminished after undergoing Tommy John surgery two years ago.

Mattingly didn’t sound concerned Crawford’s throwing issues would be an issue, insisting Crawford could utilize his other assets to compensate.

“How many guys you see getting thrown out? Really, on the bases?,” Mattingly said, “It’s more about range and getting to balls. Carl really runs well. I think, like metrically, he’s been really good in left field. He’s a guy that will run a ball down for you.”

Mattingly was confident Crawford could keep runners going from first to third on outfield singles.

If not with his arm, then his legs.

“Absolutely. Because you use your speed in different ways,” Mattingly said. “That means, in case you don’t throw as well, you get to the ball quicker. You use your speed to cut down that time. You get rid of it quicker and you practice to be accurate. It’s not always about arm strength. It’s how you use the tools you have.”

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DODGERS JUSTIN TURNER CLOSES IN ON RETURN

Brian Wilson looked quizzically at Justin Turner as Turner approached him at his locker in the Dodgers clubhouse Saturday.

“Oh hey, welcome back,” Wilson finally said, shaking Turner’s hand.

“For a minute there I thought you forgot who I was,” Turner told Wilson, laughing.

“Not at all,” Wilson said. “If anything it was almost like you never left.”

In time and distance, Turner wasn’t gone very long and he didn’t stray very far.

But he was away nonetheless. Although it looks like his return is imminent.

Since landing on the disabled list on June 29 with a strained left hamstring Turner’s been in Arizona rehabbing the injury.

But his arrival back in Los Angeles over the weekend marked a significant milestone in his recovery. Things are going so well he’s been cleared to play Sunday in Single A Rancho Cucamonga – as a D.H.- and if everything goes well the back-up infielder could be back with the Dodgers by next Friday in St. Louis.

“We’ll see how it goes,” a hopeful Turner said after spending Saturday afternoon doing agility work in the outfield and running the bases.

“Everything went well,” he said. “You can’t simulate game speed, obviously, but I felt like I was as close to 100 percent as I can be.”

So now it’s off to the minor leagues to test the hamstring, and hopefully pave a path back to the Dodgers after the All-Star break.

For Turner, it will be full go as he gauges the strength in the leg.

And at the urging of the Dodgers training staff, no holds barred.

“They told me when I’m playing these games, no matter where the ball’s at try to make it as game like as possible,” Turner said. “Whatever it takes to have that confidence for what ever happens.”

 

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Tonight’s game story, photo gallery.

Dee Gordon

Dodgers second baseman Dee Gordon collides with the wall while trying to catch a foul ball in the first inning Friday against the Padres. (Michael Owen Baker/Staff photographer)

Paul Maholm is starting tomorrow.

The story: http://www.dailynews.com/sports/20140711/loss-to-san-diego-padres-exposes-two-of-the-dodgers-weaknesses

The photos: http://photos.dailynews.com/2014/07/photos-dodgers-vs-padres-friday/#1

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Scott Elbert throws a scoreless inning for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga.

Dodgers pitcher Scott Elbert threw a 10-pitch scoreless inning Friday for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga.

The left-hander induced an infield popout, a groundout and a flyout to center field against the Lancaster JetHawks.

It was the seventh minor-league game Elbert has appeared in since his rehabilitation began June 18. Elbert began the season on the 60-day disabled list as he attempts to return from Tommy John surgery last year.

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In the Dodgers’ starting rotation, “TBA” probably stands for “Paul Maholm.”

Ian Kennedy is the San Diego Padres’ scheduled starter for Saturday’s game at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers’ starter is still listed as “TBA.”

“Today’s game will determine what we do tomorrow,” manager Don Mattingly said.

What about Paul Maholm?

“Pretty good chance,” Mattingly said. “I feel like that’s our choice, but depending on how this game goes, how we have to use him or not use him, makes the choice for us.”

Plan B, Red Patterson, skipped his normal turn in the Albuquerque Isotopes’ rotation Friday night. Jeff Bennett started instead. Drew Carpenter is scheduled to start tomorrow.

Stay tuned for an announcement, conceivably after tonight’s game.

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With Miguel Rojas starting at shortstop again, taking stock of the Dodgers’ backup infielders.

Miguel Rojas

Miguel Rojas is hitting .232 in his first 30 major-league games. (Associated Press photo)

It’s reached the juncture, again, where Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez is being propped up by shoulder injections. The Dodgers seem to think that last night’s injection hit the correct spot. Time will tell.

On Friday, for the fourth time in the last five games, Ramirez wasn’t in the Dodgers’ lineup. Miguel Rojas was. Ramirez’s health seems to be stuck on day-to-day, so it’s worth examining where his backups stand in what’s become a competition for fairly regular playing time.
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Hanley Ramirez, Andre Ethier rest with injuries.

Scott Van Slyke is in center field and Miguel Rojas is starting at shortstop against rookie right-hander Jesse Hahn when the Dodgers host the San Diego Padres tonight at Dodger Stadium.

Though manager Don Mattingly isn’t exactly hoping this becomes a trend, it might be too late. Van Slyke has started three of the last five games in center field over Andre Ethier, and four of the last eight. Typically the starter against a left-handed opponent, Van Slyke is starting for the second straight night against a righty.

“In general Dre just seems like he doesn’t have the same energy. He hasn’t felt good body-wise,” Mattingly said. “There’s lots of little things. One thing usually is the building block to another and to compensate, you’ve got another issue. It’s really just trying to get that stuff kind of resolved.”

As for shortstop Hanley Ramirez, he’s started only one of the last five games at shortstop because of inflammation in the A/C joint in his right shoulder. He’s only played one complete game at shortstop since June 16 — he was the Dodgers’ designated hitter once in Kansas City and twice in Detroit in the meantime.

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Clayton Kershaw ranks third in MLB player jersey sales.

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw pauses before throwing the final pitch of his no-hitter June 18 at Dodger Stadium. (John McCoy/Staff photographer)


Turns out a no-hitter amounts to more than baseball history. It makes for good merchandising.

Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw ranks third, behind New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey, on MLB’s list of jersey sales since Opening Day.

Kershaw threw his first career no-hitter on June 18 against the Colorado Rockies.

Yasiel Puig is ninth and Hyun-Jin Ryu is 18th as announced by MLB. The Dodgers are the only MLB club with three players on MLB’s top 20 jersey sales list.

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Oddsmakers set Yasiel Puig’s home run derby chances at 6-to-1.

Online oddsmaker Bovada gives Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig a 6-to-1 chance of winning the annual Home Run Derby on Monday. The complete odds:

Giancarlo Stanton    2/1
Yoenis Cespedes    5/1
Jose Bautista           5/1
Yasiel Puig                 6/1
Troy Tulowitzki      13/2
Josh Donaldson    10/1
Adam Jones           12/1
Brian Dozier          12/1
Todd Frazier          12/1
Justin Morneau     15/1

The derby begins at 5 p.m. next Monday and will be televised on ESPN.

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Sandy Koufax perfect game ball, Jackie Robinson bat, Roy Campanella ring highlight all-star auction.

Jackie Robinson bat

A baseball used by Sandy Koufax to throw his perfect game on Sept. 9, 1965, a Jackie Robinson bat from 1953, and Roy Campanella’s Hall of Fame induction ring are among the items being auctioned at the All-Star fan fest next week in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The Koufax ball was donated by former major league player and manager Jeff Torborg, who caught the game.

Hunt Auctions has pictures and a full description of the Koufax baseball, the Robinson bat and the Campanella ring.

Bids can be placed online or by telephone (610-524-0822). Bidding for the live auction begins Tuesday, July 15 at 10 a.m. at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Coincidentally, the three players were the first to have their numbers retired by the Dodgers.

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