The Dodgers are receiving a visit from the team psychologist at a time when their hold of the National League West is looking increasingly unstable.
Toronto-based Dana Sinclair, who is in her second season working with the Dodgers, will be with the club through its three-game series against San Diego that ends today.
Not everyone has a use for Sinclair, who consults teams in every major sport. She visits the Dodgers every couple of months.
"The most we've talked is like a few minutes," James Loney said. "We've talked about preparation-type stuff."
But long reliever James McDonald said Sinclair helped him get back on track when she joined the Dodgers for a series in St. Louis in late July.
"She helped me in the minors a couple of times," McDonald said.
What was he told?
"When I walk guys, step off the mound," he said. "Think about things I was doing when I was getting guys out."
Before Saturday, McDonald had a 2.21 earned-run average in his 15 appearances since the St. Louis series.
Shuffling the lineup
Casey Blake was out of the lineup because he strained his left hamstring running to first base Friday. Manager Joe Torre said he expected Blake to be out for a couple of days.
Ronnie Belliard took the place of Blake and started for the fourth consecutive day.
Torre opted to sit Manny Ramirez on Saturday instead of today, saying he wanted to start Juan Pierre to give the Dodgers' offense a new look.
Back in the lineup was Orlando Hudson, who was rested the previous two days.
Rotation is set
The Dodgers will use a six-man rotation this week.
Vicente Padilla, Chad Billingsley and Jon Garland will start, in that order, in the three-game series in Arizona that starts Monday.
Randy Wolf, Clayton Kershaw and Hiroki Kuroda will pitch in the three-game series in San Francisco that opens Friday.
What's the holdup?
The completion of the trade for Garland is being held up by an unsettled grievance that the players' union filed against the Dodgers on behalf of infield prospect Tony Abreu, according to sources with knowledge of the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the matter.
Arizona made clear that it would select Abreu from the list of players the Dodgers made available to finalize the trade, but that was until the Diamondbacks learned of the status of the grievance, which is believed to be close to being settled. The process could result in the moving up of the date when Abreu is eligible for salary arbitration and free agency.
At stake are 47 days Abreu spent in the minors in 2007 -- days the union argued should count as major league service time because Abreu was demoted when he was injured, something that is against league rules. The Dodgers have said Abreu wasn't injured when he was demoted.
Abreu had surgery that October.
The extra service time Abreu could gain in a settlement could make him eligible for arbitration as soon as this winter and free agency by the end of the 2012 season.
Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti and Assistant General Manager Kim Ng declined to comment on the situation, but sources said the Dodgers aren't planning to offer the Diamondbacks any money to offset Abreu's pay increase or add any players to the list of players they can select.
Arizona has until Oct. 15 to choose a player to complete the trade.
VS. SAN DIEGO
Where: Dodger Stadium.
On the air: TV: ESPN2; Radio: 790, 930.
Pitchers: Hiroki Kuroda vs. Tim Stauffer.
Update: The last time Kuroda pitched in a major league game, he was hit in the head with a line drive in Arizona. Three weeks have passed since that game and Kuroda said he no longer has the intermittent headaches he experienced in the wake of the accident. Kuroda was sharp in a rehabilitation start with Class-A Inland Empire on Tuesday. He said he didn't flinch when the second pitch he threw was hit over his head to center field. Stauffer has won his last two starts.
-- Dylan Hernandez