Dodgers first baseman James Loney warms up before the game Sunday against… (Jayne Kamin-Oncea / US Presswire )
Struggling first baseman James Loney wasn't in the Dodgers' starting lineup Monday for the second time in four days, but Manager Don Mattingly said he wasn't using a platoon at first base.
As the Dodgers opened a series against the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium, the left-handed Loney was batting .204 overall and a mere .125 against left-handed pitchers. He had one home run and 12 runs batted in.
With the Dodgers scoring only five runs in the their three-game series with the San Diego Padres over the weekend, Mattingly said he opted for another right-handed batter — Marcus Thames — in the lineup to face left-hander James Russell.
Loney also didn't start Friday when the Dodgers faced Padres left-hander Clayton Richard.
"James is going to get his at-bats against lefties, but right now we're going to try to get some offense going," Mattingly said. "I want to get James going but … I feel like today's lineup is better."
Rookie Jerry Sands at first base and Thames started in left field.
In his fourth full season, Loney, 26, began the year with a career batting average of .288. Last season, he hit .267 with 10 home runs and 88 RBIs, and led the club in hits (157) and doubles (41).
Despite his slump, Loney's batting had perked up a bit lately: He hit .400 (eight for 20) in the last week of April, including a four-hit game against the Florida Marlins.
"I feel good, I think if you look over the last week or two the way I've been hitting the ball" shows an upswing, Loney said. Even so, he took note of Mattingly's move Monday and said, "We got a lot of good hitters; it's good to give [other] guys at-bats, too."
Also on Monday, Mattingly started what he dubbed the "Loney fly-ball jar."
"Every time he flies out to left [field] he's got to give me a dollar," Mattingly said. "Then he told me I had to give him a dollar every time that he hits a line drive to left. I want him to keep the ball low to left field.
"I believe in James, I've always believed in his ability. I don't want to break his confidence down by not playing him, but in the same breath I want him to just try to keep working and get himself going.
"If we're going to be a club that contends, we can't count on Matt [Kemp] and Andre [Ethier] to hit .390 all year. We're going to have to get contributions from all over the lineup, and James is one of those pieces."
The Dodgers announced a free-tickets promotion for military members during May.
All members of the joint services with a valid military ID, including active, reserve and retired veterans and their dependents, can take advantage by showing their military ID at a Dodger Stadium ticket booth on the day of a game, the team said.
Each military ID is good for two complimentary tickets, based on availability, the Dodgers said. More details are available at http://www.dodgers.com/military.