Puig had started the last 14 games in a row.
Andre Ethier is the Dodgers’ designated hitter for tonight’s scheduled game against the Minnesota Twins. It’s the first game in which the Dodgers can use a designated hitter, since last night’s game against the Twins was postponed until tomorrow.
It also offers a brief respite from the team’s so-called “four outfielder problem.” Carl Crawford is in left field, Matt Kemp is in center and Yasiel Puig is in right field against Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson.
Drew Butera is the Dodgers’ catcher. Tim Federowicz was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque and Miguel Olivo was recalled earlier today.
The weather forecast for Minneapolis is decidedly miserable — temperatures in the low 40s, clouds overhead — but not impossible for a baseball game.
Here are the lineups for both teams:
Attention, Target Field shoppers: It’s raining in Minnesota.
It’s raining so much, that the Dodgers won’t play the Minnesota Twins today. The game has been postponed until Thursday at 4 p.m. (PST) as part of a day-night doubleheader, with the first game beginning at 10 a.m.
It couldn’t happen to a better pitcher.
While some hurlers are such creatures of habit that anything more or less than regular rest throws their performance off-kilter, Zack Greinke doesn’t seem to mind the occasional extra day. Tonight’s scheduled starter will presumably take the ball tomorrow night on six days’ rest. Here are Greinke’s career numbers on six days’ rest, via Baseball-Reference.com:
W-L ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO HBP WP BF WHIP SO9 SO/W 11-6 2.72 149.0 144 56 45 12 38 116 6 6 620 1.221 7.0 3.05
Greinke is also in the midst of a ridiculous hot streak that’s seen him pitch at least five innings without allowing more than two runs in 20 consecutive starts, including the 2013 postseason. That’s the longest such streak in the modern era, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
His numbers since last July 4: Greinke has a 1.76 ERA, averaging 8.9 strikeouts per nine innings against 8.5 baserunners, and five strikeouts for every walk. So the Twins have that to look forward to.
Dodgers left fielder Carl Crawford has appeared in 18 games this season, more than all but six of his teammates. In 2009, he was the Most Valuable Player of the All-Star game.
This year, Crawford is not even on the ballot.
The rest of the Dodgers’ representatives followed a predictable order: Adrian Gonzalez (first base), Dee Gordon (second base), Hanley Ramirez (shortstop), Juan Uribe (third base) and A.J. Ellis (catcher).
The game will be played at Target Field in Minneapolis on July 15. Designated hitters are allowed for both leagues’ lineups at the All-Star game, and the Dodgers will have that luxury when they visit the Twins for an interleague series next week. There is a good chance that all four outfielders will be in the starting lineup then.
However, Crawford wasn’t on the list of eight names the Dodgers submitted to the league at the beginning of the season.
Voters are allowed to cast up to 25 ballots. Crawford can still be included on the ballot as a write-in candidate but his odds are especially slim. Crawford is batting .211 with a .231 on-base percentage, poor for any hitter — especially one who regularly bats first or second. He’s stolen four bases, but none since April 9.
All four outfielders are struggling at the plate by their own standards. Puig is hitting .254/.338/.437, Kemp .211/.297/.456 and Ethier .194/.247/.284.
Below are the career statistics for the Dodgers’ outfielders against Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick. Who would you sit?
Unfortunately, your answer doesn’t count because you don’t fill out the lineup card. Don Mattingly does, and he chose to bench Matt Kemp. The question of why led Mattingly down a lengthy rabbit hole about the future of the Dodgers’ so-called “four outfielder problem.”
“Every day, this is really a bit of a problem for the most part,” Mattingly said. “This was not easy because Matt’s done pretty decent. So has Yasiel. All the guys I thought were pretty good. Just trying to do the best we can with it. … There will come a day when … where we’re going to put what we think is our best club.”
It’s hard to say whether or not Andre Ethier is available for the Dodgers’ game tonight against the Philadelphia Phillies. In the clubhouse before the game, it was clear the outfielder was still recovering from a head cold. He said that’s all it is, a head cold, and that his condition is the “same as yesterday.”
Well, according to Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, Ethier was so sick yesterday that he wasn’t available off the bench.
“We’ve got three guys — I wouldn’t say three — but a number of guys who aren’t recovering like the rest,” Mattingly said.
Ethier and Josh Beckett are two; Mattingly declined to name the third.
During batting practice, Ethier looked like himself, spraying line drives around the field. He hit at least one ball to the warning track.
Given all that, it’s hard to draw a firm conclusion about his availability for tonight. He’s listed on the lineup card as available off the bench.
Here are the lineups for both teams:
Hanley Ramirez can hit home runs. That’s no revelation. Even Matt Kemp, Mattingly said, had his power swing on display from the time he reported to camp, with his high follow-through leaving many pitching machines in Glendale, Arizona with stratospheric ERAs.
No, what had Mattingly excited was the sixth inning.
Ramirez led off with a double into the left-field corner. Adrian Gonzalez was next up, and he hit a ground ball directly into the Giants’ shift. First baseman Brandon Belt fielded the ball and tossed to pitcher Matt Cain covering first base for the out. That didn’t matter to Mattingly, because Ramirez advanced to third base, then scored on a deeply hit sacrifice fly by Andre Ethier.
“That was a big run for us,” Mattingly said. “They cut it to 4-2 with a couple homers there. Hanley starts the inning with a double, Adrian gets him over with the ground ball, Andre gets him in. Sometimes last year we didn’t get that done very well. I was encouraged by that tonight.”
Indeed, the biggest complaint about the Dodgers’ offense for the first six weeks of 2013 was its lack of situational hitting. On June 14, the Dodgers were 10 games below .500 and averaging 3.5 runs per game. From June 15 on, they averaged 4.3 runs per game. The arrivals of Yasiel Puig and Ramirez were integral. They added two dimensions the offense lacked, speed and power. More importantly, they didn’t make as many outs as the men they replaced. By extension, the Dodgers had more runners on base and had more success moving them over. Their situational hitting improved.
The Dodgers might never have another inning like the sixth this season. But if it becomes a trend, that’s one less way a lineup full of superstars can fail to score.
The sticker shock of the quality of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ lineup quickly wore off, then reversed course.
With a lineup slim on quality major-league talent — Didi Gregorius batted third and Mike Jacobs, who’s played 20 major-league games since 2009, hit cleanup — the Diamondbacks scored nine runs in six innings en route to a win in their last meeting with the Dodgers before Opening Day.
Zack Greinke allowed three runs, Zach Lee allowed four (three were earned) and Chris Perez allowed two runs in two-thirds of an inning out of the bullpen. J.P. Howell, Chris Withrow, Kenley Jansen and minor-leaguer Romulo Sanchez combined to throw 3 ⅔ scoreless innings of relief.
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The end is near.
If Twitter’s brief, apocalyptic mid-morning shutdown (for “maintenance,” we were told) didn’t hint at the end of life as we know it, the Dodgers’ schedule does — at least for those of us who have been with the team in Arizona the better part of a month.
There are six days and seven games left on the schedule beginning with today’s tilt against the Kansas City Royals in Surprise, Ariz. There’s no Andre Ethier, no Hanley Ramirez and no Dee Gordon or Alex Guerrero in the Dodgers’ lineup. Otherwise, it has a very start-to-the-regular-season kind of look.
“We want to play Dre (to play) probably the last five,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “Same with Hanley.”
Yasiel Puig is in right field and Scott Van Slyke in center, a late switch. “We just wanted to see Slyke in center as much as anything,” Mattingly said, dropping the “Van” that makes for so many good last-name puns. “It seems like the right day.”
In one of those great only-in-spring training curiosities, the Dodgers will not use a designated hitter. The Royals will.
Dan Haren is making what ought to be his final Cactus League start. More on him later.
Here are the full lineups for both teams:
Dodgers special advisor Sandy Koufax was conscious and in good spirits after being struck in the side of his head by a batted ball during batting practice Friday.
Koufax was standing near the bullpen, in foul territory behind third base, when he was hit by a line drive off the bat of Andre Ethier. Koufax remained on his feet as the gathered crowd went silent, then sat down in a cart driven by assistant athletic trainer Nancy Patterson, holding an ice pack to his head.
Koufax was quickly driven in the direction of the Dodgers’ minor-league complex. A few minutes later, Patterson and Koufax drove back in the direction of the Dodgers’ main clubhouse. Koufax waved and smiled to the fans as he was carted off.
Update (1:30 p.m.): Koufax said that a CT scan of his head showed no internal bleeding. Other than a cut on his upper-left forehead, Koufax looked and sounded the same.
“I’m fine,” Koufax said. “I never saw (the ball). I don’t know how it got me.”
Koufax joked about wearing a helmet onto the field tomorrow.
“I feel like I’ve got more whiplash than anything,” Koufax said.