Bobby Abreu‘s first career pinch-hit home run provided the final two runs of the Dodgers’ 8-0 win over the Colorado Rockies. After the game, manager Don Mattingly was asked if he’d do more to get Abreu into the lineup.
With Shane Victorino, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier all healthy? No.
But there’s something to be said for the fourth act of Abreu’s season. Let’s call Act 1 “Anaheim,” Act 2 “Starter for the Dodgers,” Act 3 “Albuquerque” and Act 4 “Pinch hitter.” All 19 of Abreu’s plate appearances in September have come as a pinch-hitter. Add in his last four at-bats in July before the Dodgers designated him for assignment, and Abreu has made 23 straight plate appearances as a pinch hitter.
Matt Kemp is batting third today and his shoulder is OK. That’s good news less than 24 hours after Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was considering giving the center fielder a day off today against the Cardinals.
About last night …
Mattingly doesn’t usually let his emotions show while talking to the media (talking to umpires is a different animal). Last night offered an exception. See for yourself, at the 2:00 mark, where the manager says, “that play tonight, is just to me, it really chokes me up.”
Yesterday, I compared the Dodgers’ offense to a sputtering Corvette idling in the driveway (Usually not my driveway, usually my neighbor’s driveway at 2 in the morning).
Don Mattingly tacitly agreed with the comparison in his postgame press conference, saying: “we’re having our troubles putting up runs. (Eric) Stults, he can pitch, he can change speeds and keep the ball down, but I think we’ve got to do a little better job.”
ESPN, which televised last night’s game, put together this nifty head-to-head comparison of Stults and Clayton Kershaw, yesterday’s starters. Stults’ numbers aren’t bad this season. Neither are Kershaw’s.
Kershaw said he got to know “Stultsie” well during their two years together in L.A.
“It’s nice to see him doing well,” Kershaw said. “Wish he hadn’t done as well tonight.”
Maybe a 1-1 tie when both starters exited the game was to be expected. But at some point doesn’t the Dodger lineup have to start mashing?
Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen will meet with a cardiologist today to determine whether he can resume pitching Friday or must miss the next four weeks because of a cardiac arrhythmia.
One could downplay the significance of the meeting, but only because Brandon League and Ronald Belisario have pitched well lately. Since Aug. 20, the two-man closing committee is 2-for-2 in save opportunities, with 19 strikeouts and zero earned runs in 14.1 innings. Manager Don Mattingly said he is comfortable using League and Belisario in the ninth inning for the remainder of the season if he has to.
But Mattingly isn’t downplaying the importance of Jansen’s appointment.
“You can’t say that you can go without Kenley and be as good,” the manager said. “That doesn’t mean you can’t get it done. You have to make things work, that’s all. It’s like playing without Matt (Kemp) — you know you’re not as good but you can make it work. You can still win games.”
Matt Kemp was penciled into the cleanup spot in the Dodgers’ lineup for the first time this season, and it appears his collision into the center-field wall in Colorado will only keep him out of the lineup for two games.
“It’s as good as it’s going to get,” he said of his knee, which was still swollen Thursday and rendered him unavailable for the Dodgers’ 2-0 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Kemp downplayed the severity of the pain in his left shoulder, but manager Don Mattingly said that the center fielder might still miss the game if the shoulder tightens up after batting practice.
In his career, Kemp is a better hitter out of the three hole, but he has more experience batting fourth (203 games) than third (185). He’s batting .289/.354/.521 as a cleanup hitter and .337/.392/.568 third.
“I batted fourth all last year,” Kemp said. “I know how to do it.”
Mattingly said that he wanted to separate left-handed hitters Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Ethier. Gonzalez is hitting third, Kemp fourth, Hanley Ramirez fifth and Ethier sixth. “Matt didn’t care either way, Adrian didn’t care either way,” Mattingly said.
Matt Kemp‘s list of injuries seems to be growing by the day but, remarkably, the center fielder is a possibility to play off the bench tonight against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Kemp spoke briefly before the game, telling reporters that his knees were still his greatest source of pain. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly seemed to contradict that by saying it was Kemp’s left shoulder, not his knees, that were the slowest to recover from this crash into the center-field wall Tuesday night in Colorado:
Regardless, Kemp rode a stationary bike and ran in the outfield prior to the game, and could make an appearance later on.
“I made the lineup out thinking he might be able to play,” Mattingly said. “I’m sure he can catch a ball. It depends on the situation we’re in.”
“I’m just going to take it day by day,” Kemp said. “I’m trying to get the swelling to go down a little bit.”
Shane Victorino was back in the lineup after missing Saturday’s game due to stiffness in his lower back.
He missed a lot while he was out.
Outfielder Carl Crawford, the least important (for this year, at least) of the four players the Dodgers acquired Saturday from Boston is signed through 2017. Crawford had Tommy John surgery Thursday and is out until March of next season at the earliest, so Victorino’s job in left field is safe for now.
A free agent at the end of the season, Victorino repeatedly expressed a desire to re-sign in Los Angeles after arriving July 31 in a trade from Philadelphia. Now, Crawford’s presence poses an obvious problem long-term: the Dodgers have three outfielders (Crawford, Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp) under contract until at least 2017.
It’s been true for some time that the Dodgers are in the market for a starting pitcher, a left-handed reliever, and a corner infielder. Scratch Carlos Lee’s name off the list of available players, though general manager Ned Colletti doesn’t necessarily believe that Lee’s trade to the Miami Marlins last week is a sure sign the market is heating up.
“For the sellers, there’s never a sense of urgency until you get to the 31st,” Colletti said, referring to the August 31 trade deadline. “The seller’s risk is injury. They can wait it out right until the bell.”
Injuries? The Dodgers have plenty of those.
Thanks to his refreshing honesty in an impromptu media scrum after Wednesday’s game, Matt Kemp didn’t leave Dodger fans with much guesswork regarding his latest injury. The remaining details will be revealed in an MRI scan on his left hamstring tomorrow.
Kemp re-aggravated the same injury that landed him on the 15-day disabled list earlier this month in the first inning of the Dodgers’ 6-3 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.
In the first at-bat of the game, Kemp singled off Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo. Andre Ethier followed that up with an RBI double, sending Kemp all the way home from first base.
Kemp said he was “pretty much close to third base” when he felt pain “grab” the lower part of his left hamstring — the same area he hurt before going on the DL from May 14-29. In an act of frustration, Kemp slammed a baseball bat over his knee in the Dodgers’ dugout before leaving down the tunnel leading into the team clubhouse.
Asked directly if he expects to go on the disabled list, Kemp said, “I would think so. It feels worse than the first time.”
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly agreed.
“It looks like it’s a pretty good chance,” he said.
Dodgers head athletic trainer Sue Falsone had a busy day Thursday — a day off for the team, but hardly a day off for the trainer with a disabled list of eight players.
Justin Sellers became the latest addition as he took the place of Jerry Hairston Jr. on Friday. Hairston was in the starting lineup and Sellers was reduced to performing core exercises after an MRI Thursday revealed a slipped disc as well as a stress fracture in his lower back.
The injury is related to the head-over-heels catch Sellers made May 14 –but not entirely.
“He had what’s called a spondylolysis, or a stress fracture, back in high school,” Falsone said. “A lot of younger athletes have it. A lot of older athletes have it. It’s no big deal — a little stress fracture in the back.”
Falsone went on to explain that the stress fracture created an area of weakness that was exacerbated when Sellers tumbled into the stands. At first he reported back pain, then numbness down his right leg from the hip to the toe.
Both Sellers and Falsone were optimistic that he would only need the minimum 15 days on the disabled list, but “if it doesn’t get better, we might have to remove part of the disc,” Sellers said.
The infielder is hitting .205 with three doubles and a home run in a reserve role.