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The Matt Kemp effect: Don Mattingly gives lineup an odd makeover

May 15, 2012|By Steve Dilbeck
  • Dodgers outfielder Scott Van Slyke drives in a run on a broken-bat single during Wednesday's game against the San Francisco Giants.
Dodgers outfielder Scott Van Slyke drives in a run on a broken-bat single… (Harry How / Getty Images )

Now for a lineup only a minor leaguer’s mommy could love.

The Dodgers presented their strangest lineup in recent memory -- like ever? -- Tuesday night against the Diamondbacks.

Are you ready for Scott Van Slyke to make the first start of his major-league career as the No. 3 hitter? Jerry Sands in left and Justin Sellers at third? With Andre Ethier making the first regular-season start of his major-league life in center?

That’s three starters who a week ago were in the minors and a career right-fielder making his debut in center. It’s the Matt Kemp-on-the-disabled-list effect.

Manager Don Mattingly likened the lineup to one of those DirecTV commercials in which the guy goes from one situation to another until he’s sold his hair.

"You got to Vegas and you cut your hair -- that’s what happens when Matt Kemp goes on the DL – then you drink, then you wake up with a hangover and then you make a lineup like this," Mattingly said.

"Yeah, it’s different, I know."

Mattingly actually juggled a lot of factors into his unusual lineup -- playing consecutive left-handers, playing the next two days in San Diego, wanting to spot Tony Gwynn Jr. at some point, wanting to separate his left- and right-handed batters.

So Tuesday’s starting lineup looked like this: Dee Gordon (SS), Mark Ellis (2B), Van Slyke (RF), Ethier (CF), A.J. Ellis (C), Sands (LF), James Loney (1B), Sellers (3B and Chad Billingsley (P).

Right, but Van Slyke third?

"I don’t really have anyone else to put there," said Mattingly, who if nothing else, is honest.

Mattingly said he wanted to keep Ethier batting fourth, and A.J. Ellis behind him. The lineup also left Gordon and Mark Ellis hitting in the first two spots, and he was able to surround Loney with right-handed bats.

Mattingly said he only expected Ethier to play center two or three times while Kemp is out. Gwynn will be the primary center fielder but Mattingly is leery of playing him too much after spending the last six weeks as a utility player.

"I can’t kill Tony," he said. "We’re going to San Diego [Wednesday], they have a huge field, and I have to have Tony in center the next couple of days. I like to keep him on the field. We have a lefty today and a lefty tomorrow, so today would just seem to be the day for 'Dre."

Left-handed hitting Bobby Abreu was rested Tuesday against Arizona left-hander Wade Miley. Ethier last played center when he started there in the 2010 All-Star game.

Mattingly said he had not approached his new hitters about their place in the lineup.

"I think they’re just happy to be in the lineup," he said. "They don’t care where they’re hitting."


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