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DODGERS FYI

Dodgers' James Loney could have playing time cut

Manager Don Mattingly says that the first baseman, who was batting .198 before Tuesday's game, might ride the bench if he doesn't start hitting.

May 08, 2012|By Dylan Hernandez

Dodgers first baseman James Loney is off to another slow start.

Loney went into Tuesday's game batting .198 and was hitless in his last 13 at-bats.

Manager Don Mattingly said that if Loney doesn't start hitting, his playing time could be cut.

"To me, we're getting to the point where it's just a production thing," Mattingly said. "You have to throw up some numbers out there somehow, some way. ... We have to find production from him. It's kind of that simple now."

The Dodgers have more lineup flexibility than they did a year ago, when Mattingly had no other viable options at first base outside of Loney. With the recent addition of outfielder Bobby Abreu, Mattingly can move Juan Rivera from left field to first base more often.

As it is, Loney has started only seven of the 14 games in which the Dodgers have faced a left-handed starting pitcher. Through Monday, Loney was hitting .111 against left-handers.

His playing time against right-handers could also be reduced.

Asked about his recent form, Loney shook his head and smiled.

"Every year, you know, there's always something," he said.

But the first baseman said this slump doesn't feel like the one he had last season, which he didn't break out of until mid-August. Last season, Loney was batting .254 as late as Aug. 20.

"Last year my timing was off," Loney said. "I feel like I'm on time."

Whatever the numbers read, Loney remains encouraged.

"If you're swinging at bad pitches and not swinging at good pitches, then your timing's probably off," he said. "But I'm not doing that."

Mattingly agreed with Loney's assertion that there was nothing wrong with his approach.

Loney knocked in the Dodgers' first run Tuesday when he doubled to left-center field to drive in Andre Ethier.

#BamSucka

When Matt Kemp and Dee Gordon post thoughts about Dodgers victories on their Twitter accounts, their messages often end with the hashtag term, "#BamSucka."

The phrase was imported into the Dodgers clubhouse by reserve outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr., who spent the off-season training in San Diego with teammate Aaron Harang and Washington Nationals outfielder Xavier Nady.

While working out, Nady frequently shouted, "Bam sucka!"

"He was yelling it after finishing a set, after doing something he felt good about doing," Gwynn said. "I used to just giggle so much. I don't know why I thought it was so funny."

Soon, Gwynn found himself shouting the phrase in the Dodgers' spring-training camp. Harang printed shirts with the phrase on it.

"It just kind of took off from there," Gwynn said. "Matt and Dee, they use it quite a bit."

Short hops

Casey Blake, the third baseman on the Dodgers' playoff teams in 2008 and 2009, announced his retirement to the Des Moines Register. Blake's tenure with the Dodgers ended when he underwent neck surgery last season. The 38-year-old was in camp with the Colorado Rockies this spring but didn't make their opening-day roster. … Jerry Hairston Jr. reported continued improvement in his strained hamstring and said he hopes to avoid landing on the disabled list. … Sidelined reliever Matt Guerrier has been throwing on flat ground. He said he intends to throw off a mound "as soon as possible." … Rubby De La Rosa and Blake Hawksworth are throwing on flat ground at the Dodgers' spring-training complex in Arizona.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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