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With so many new players, do Dodgers have to mesh all over again?

August 05, 2012|By Steve Dilbeck
  • Matt Kemp, right, and Hanley Ramirez celebrate the Dodgers' 3-1 win over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday.
Matt Kemp, right, and Hanley Ramirez celebrate the Dodgers' 3-1 win… (Reed Saxon / Associated…)

The Dodgers are trying to advance to the postseason, and in the last week a fifth of their roster has been made over. And it’s August, with only a third of the season remaining.

Two new starting position players (Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino), two new relievers (Randy Choate, Brandon League) and one new starting pitcher (Joe Blanton) now call the Dodgers’ clubhouse home.

That’s some serious turnover. Alexander the Great didn’t march into Persia with new troops, but the Dodgers are taking on the National League with a group being forced to mesh and develop its own chemistry in the season’s final two months.

After dropping three consecutive games at home to Arizona, the Dodgers have won their last two against the Cubs.

“Everybody is getting to know each other,” said Matt Kemp. “We’re starting to look more like a whole team. I’m happy about that.”

Victorino gives the Dodgers an impressive defensive outfield. All three outfielders – Andre Ethier, Kemp and Victorino – have won Gold Gloves. Ramirez is a huge personality.

Victorino is a high-energy player, whose pedal always seems pushed to the floor. But he’s also been a World Series champion with the Phillies. He said integrating a number of new teammates is made easier by the way Manager Don Mattingly approaches the game.

“It starts with Don,” Victorino said. “He’s the kind of guy who says, 'Go out there take care of what you have to and play the game correctly.' That kind of stuff takes care of itself. A winning environment is created by winning, but even when you lose, it takes the right chemistry to understand to go out there and get after it. Those kinds of things are what I’ve seen so far.

“For a young bunch of guys, a lot of them have experience of playing in postseason games.”

The new players join a solid clubhouse. It’s been one of their 2012 strengths. Left-hander Clayton Kershaw said there is a simple solution to adding new players to the core and continuing that same team atmosphere.

“You win games, things are going to work no matter what,” Kershaw said. “It doesn’t matter the personalities of the guys. Winning solves a lot of issues.

“We’ll get to know the guys along the way. So far we have nothing but good things to say about them. If we keep winning, I don’t think it will be a problem.”

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