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Dodgers try to adjust to heat in St. Louis

The four-game series against the Cardinals is expected to feature triple-digit temperatures during the day. The Dodgers are taking precautions such as limiting time on the field during batting practice.

July 23, 2012|By Jim Peltz

ST. LOUIS — Two hours before the first pitch Monday, as the Dodgers took batting practice in the late afternoon, an outfield sign at Busch Stadium displayed the temperature: 103.

The Dodgers' entire four-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals is expected to feature triple-digit temperatures during the day, prompting the Dodgers to take extra precautions. Muscle cramps from dehydration are a particular fear.

During Monday's batting practice, for instance, players were limited to 25 minutes on the field; normally they would be out there about an hour.

Manager Don Mattingly said he first saw the Texas Rangers rotate groups of players during batting practice to limit their pregame exposure to the heat and "I thought that makes sense."

The players "need to be out in it enough to be used to it," he said of the heat, "and then get out of it."

Texas also has been giving some players intravenous fluids before games to ensure they're properly hydrated, and Mattingly said the Dodgers have looked into doing that. "We're probably going to do a little bit of it."

Kennedy's hitting

Adam Kennedy, who struggled badly at the plate in the first half of the season, has improved this month as the veteran infielder closes in on 1,500 hits in his career.

Entering Monday's play, Kennedy was batting .333 (11 for 33) in 13 game appearances in July, with four doubles and six runs batted in, including a two-run double Sunday in the Dodgers' 8-3 win over the New York Mets.

He also singled in his first at-bat Monday, giving the Riverside native with the upper-cut swing 1,479 hits.

Before July, Kennedy — who throws right and bats left — had hit .217 with nine RBIs in 55 games and drew the ire of many critics.

"Early on he wasn't swinging good, he wasn't making good contact," Mattingly said. "He's gotten better."

Kennedy, 36, said, "I've always been one who, with more at-bats" as the season continues, "the better I feel, so it's not that big of a surprise to me."

He also noted that after a groin injury in spring training, he didn't play the last couple of weeks before the season started, "which probably wasn't the smart move. But we're here now and starting to play a little better."

Kennedy has filled in at second base and third base this season, "and I trust him in both spots," Mattingly said. "He's always been fine in the field."

Ellis' knee

The left-knee inflammation that sidelined A.J. Ellis for two games is something the catcher said he'll have to watch all season.

"I'm not going to change my playing schedule or anything," but the condition will require steady attention, Ellis said before playing Monday.

That includes wearing "special tights" under his pants when the team flies, and putting additional postgame ice on the knee at the hotel, Ellis said.

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