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Falling to Cincinnati, Dodgers Trot Out the Injury Excuse

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Fri, Jun 13, 2014 at 9:35 AM
click to enlarge A.J. Ellis, Sue Falsone and Chris Capuano, May 24, 2013 - DAVID BLUMENKRANTZ/ARROYO SECO JOURNAL
  • David Blumenkrantz/Arroyo Seco Journal
  • A.J. Ellis, Sue Falsone and Chris Capuano, May 24, 2013
When two of the three major publications covering the team employ the headlines "Dodgers' options have been limited by injuries" and "Dodgers missing too many pieces to roll" less than two hours apart, it's either a complete coincidence or because the two writers are both in sync and spot-on.

Or perhaps the team is trotting out the always unattractive injury excuse to account for yet another disappointment, this time a deflating 4-1 loss to the Reds in Cincinnati. Let's go with the latter, shall we?

The Dodgers, by losing the final two in Ohio, finish their most recent road trip with a 4-3 record, and have gone 13-14 over a month-long stretch against sub-.500 opponents. They get two more in Arizona and Colorado beginning tonight at home, where they are a 29th-out-30-teams 13-19 in the category. If you scroll down to the bottom of the L.A. Times piece, you'll see an excuse for that too.

Even when a club is wounded to the point of despair, as the Dodgers were for parts of the 2013 season, the injury excuse never plays well, and it really doesn't wash now.

Yes, Los Angeles has suffered some injuries. Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu each missed a month, Brian Wilson a couple of weeks, and Carl Crawford, Juan Uribe and A.J. Ellis are out now (Ellis is expected to be activated today). But Justin Turner has played exceptionally well in Uribe's stead, Crawford's unavailability has been mitigated by the presence of four other outfielders, and Ellis was hitting all of .170 with a single RBI when he was in there.

The team has been up and down, up and down, unable to muster as much as a four-game winning streak all year long, with or without its regular starting eight. Hanley Ramirez, out yesterday with a sore right shoulder and questionable for tonight's game with the Dbacks, is the latest casualty. But Ramirez has avoided the disabled list so far this season, and has appeared in 63 of the team's 68 games.

Injuries affect every team - every team - because that's just baseball. You either move forward and succeed anyway, or surrender to misfortune and make excuses.

The National League East-leading Washington Nationals (35-30) have been without starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez for a month, without outfielder Bryce Harper since April 25, and missed third baseman Ryan Zimmerman for seven weeks before his recent return. The Nats just won three of four in San Francisco and are at least a little better than the Dodgers (35-33).

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (36-29) were without outfielder Josh Hamilton for what amounts to 80% of their season, and they're better than the Dodgers.

The 40-26 Oakland A's lost Opening Day starter Jarrod Parker to Tommy John surgery in March, play in a disgusting stadium with about $160 million less to spend on payroll, and are quite a bit better than the Dodgers.

The rival Giants 23-13 (43-24) have been without second baseman Marco Scutaro since last summer and setup man Santiago Casilla is on the shelf as we speak. First baseman Brandon Belt broke a thumb May 9 at Dodger Stadium, had surgery days later and hasn't played since. San Francisco responded by going 20-11 while stretching the NL West lead to 8 ½ games. And the Giants are a hell of a lot better than the Dodgers.

Who knows why some teams perform better minus key pieces than others. Maybe depth of player personnel has something to do with it, and if so, someone is responsible. Perhaps the 25 guys "in the room" have bad chemistry, are without intestinal fortitude, or some such thing which no one can explain worth a damn, if they can put a finger on it at all.

Or maybe there's a dearth of leadership, for which someone is responsible, and an acceptance that the injury excuse - or any excuse - carries with it even a smidgeon of value. It doesn't. The injury excuse does not fly in Los Angeles. It's grounded; a wingless ship going absolutely nowhere.

Are the Dodgers? I don't know. Not yet, anyway. But wherever the team is headed, they are likely to suffer some additional form of disabling along the way. Because shit happens in this game. It's how you deal with it that separates the winners from the excuse-makers.

The Dodgers are not missing too many pieces to roll. What a ridiculous suggestion. Other teams roll just fine with as many or more missing pieces than the Dodgers. Spare us the excuses and go out and win ballgames.

And remember, glove conquers all.

Follow Howard Cole and L.A.Weekly on Twitter.

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