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Fun times: Dodgers suddenly scrambling to field a starting nine

May 15, 2012|By Steve Dilbeck
  • Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly will be doing more than tipping his cap in the coming day -- he'll be juggling his lineup with three regular starters on the disabled list.
Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly will be doing more than tipping his cap in… (Bret Hartman / Associated…)

So now what?

The Dodgers had enjoyed relative health during their hot start, but in the span of six days lost four key players to the disabled list -- Juan Rivera (hamstring), Jerry Hairston Jr. (hamstring), Juan Uribe (wrist), and now, Matt Kemp (hamstring).

That's basically three starters lost, and Hairston was the primary backup for Uribe and Rivera.

And it's not like the Dodgers were sporting baseball's most explosive offense before they went down. Kemp has 12 of their 30 homers.

"We're not going to be as good a club with Matt not there, but it's something we feel like we're able to sustain in the short term," said Manager Don Mattingly.

"I feel like you can deal with anything for 15 days. But you start trying to do that over the course of time, it starts to get you."

Meanwhile, Mattingly is set to do some serious lineup shuffling.

At third base his options are Adam Kennedy (.171), Justin Sellers (.167) and the just-called-up Elian Herrera. It's going to remain a position of offensive need.

In left field, he has Bobby Abreu and newbies Jerry Sands and Scott Van Slyke

And in center, he has Tony Gwynn Jr., the untested Herrera and … Andre Ethier?

Yep, Mattingly asked Ethier on Monday if he could play some center.

"I said you must not remember a couple of years ago, I was the All-Star game starter," Ethier said. "I've never started during the regular season.

"But I can do it. It's just a thing of going out there, take charge, read the ball, track it down and catch it. I'm not saying it's easy, but it's definitely something I'm willing to undertake. If it gives us the best chance on a nightly basis, then let's give it a shot and make it work."

Gwynn will get most of the starts in center and Abreu in left, particularly against right-handed starting pitchers. But Abreu is 38 and was largely a DH before being released last month by the Angels. Gwynn made his first start of the season in center on Monday.

"I don't want to throw him out there day in and day out," Mattingly said. "I can't really do it to Bobby either. I have to try and be careful with both of those guys."

Kemp's hamstring strain is considered mild, and the Dodgers fully expect him to return at the end of his 15-day stint on the DL.

"We'll patch it up for the two weeks he's out, and figure out a way to keep getting things done," Ethier said. "And hopefully be on a good little streak, or at least the same spot, when he comes back."


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Fun times: Dodgers suddenly scrambling to field a starting nine

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