Dodgers third baseman Luis Cruz gets set to backhand a grounder hit by San… (Lenny Ignelzi / Associated…)
Patience, now. That’s what the Dodgers have to be telling themselves.
But how much patience with Luis Cruz is a fair amount? How long do they give him to turn things around before giving up and moving onto Plan B, whatever that is.
Certainly two weeks in a six-month seasons would seem quick on the trigger, but as Manager Don Mattingly keeps saying, it isn’t like Cruz has the track record of a Matt Kemp.
Cruz had three really good months last season, vs. 11 pretty forgettable, years.
How much trust can you place in that half-season, that Cruz will turn things around?
He’s batting .111. He pops up once every three at-bats. Along with light-hitting shortstop Justin Sellers (.179), he’s turned the left side of the infield into an offensive cliff.
“Luis is a concern,” Mattingly said. “He doesn’t have the track record of Matt. The fly balls tell me a story, and it’s not a good one.
“Luis hasn’t swung the bat for us like he did last year to this point.”
In Monday’s loss to the Padres, Cruz went 1-for-3 with a sacrifice bunt. Cruz said he was encouraged, that he had stopped opening up his outside hip on his swing.
“I was seeing the ball better,” Cruz said. “That’s huge.
“I just can’t wait until tomorrow to get some more at-bats.”
Only how many tomorrows should he get, if he doesn’t start hitting line drives again? Is three weeks enough, a month? Cruz will only be given so much rope.
But if Mattingly does elect to sit him, his options aren’t exactly overwhelming. He could return to Juan Uribe at third, yet despite his two home runs, he’s only hitting .167. He could give Jerry Hairston Jr. more time at third, but he’s hitting .143. Utility man Nick Punto is 35 and a lifetime .248 hitter, but he’s played more third base than any other position and is currently hitting .545.
If the offense was running on all cylinders otherwise, it would be easier to overlook his struggles, to provide that extra patience.
But the offense cannot drive in runs, the team is struggling to score and the patience with Cruz figures to shorten.
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