After a little two-game winning streak was followed quickly by a more familiar losing streak of the same length — all courtesy of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim — and players requiring medical treatment all over the bleeping place, there is little joy in Dodgerville this afternoon.
Nor in Denver, where L.A. plays three with the Rockies beginning tonight at 5:40 p.m., Clayton Kershaw versus Jon Garland. The Dodgers are 22-30, sit 7 ½ games back of the Arizona Diamondbacks in last place, and win or lose tonight will complete their worst May in franchise history, Brooklyn and Los Angeles. They're 9-17 now.
Matt Kemp hit the disabled list yesterday with a strained hamstring, catcher A.J. Ellis has a sore side (which necessitated the promotion of Tim Federowicz from Triple-A Albuquerque yesterday), Carl Crawford is feeling the ill-effects of running into the left field wall in Orange County last night, and already-disabled Josh Beckett is seeing a specialist today in Dallas with concerns about continued numbness in his throwing hand.
Or as more than one guy hawking programs outside a ballpark used to holler as his sales pitch, “you can't tell an elephant from a hippopotamus without a scorecard!” Andre Ethier filled in Thursday as Kemp's replacement in center, but with airport-like Coors Field on the schedule next, speculation abounds as to who the team might call up from the minors to hold down the fort.
The phrase “true center fielder” was floated by Don Mattingly yesterday, which means one of three men, if they even go the route the manager suggests. Tony Gwynn, Jr. and Matt Angle are both legitimate defensive center fielders playing in New Mexico as of yesterday, both left-handed hitters, but neither is expected to offer much with the stick. Angle, interestingly, is hitting better both against southpaws and away from high-altitude Albuquerque.
Joc Pederson is a highly-regarded 21-year-old prospect with the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts, another lefty who does a lot of things well and is favored by many as the guy Los Angeles should promote short-term. Pederson is hitting .313/.393/.516 with eight homers and 22 RBIs with the Lookouts. Calling up any of the above-mentioned three would require his being moved to the team's 40-man roster first, not a huge deal but a factor just the same.
The darling of the national media and the most potentially-spectacular of the candidates, who's already on the 40-man, is Pederson teammate and Cuban defector Yasiel Puig, who grabbed Dodger fans' attention with a monster Spring Training this past March. Puig's at .322/.393/.615 with eight and 37 currently. He played center for the first time this season last night and Mattingly says he lacks “polish,” so take that for whatever it's worth.
Also a possibility is Elian Herrera, a utility man who plays several positions well, a switch hitter not considered to be much of a threat with the bat, but who did contribute some key hits last year in a part-time role. He's been in Albuquerque for a couple of seasons, is on the 40-man roster, and is my best guess as the man we'll see in center tonight.
The club is annoyingly tight-lipped about roster moves these days, and even when Federowicz strolled unannounced into the visitors' clubhouse last night in Anaheim, no corresponding announcement had been made as to who he was replacing on the roster or why.
Look for something like that to happen again here. Either Gwynn or Angle or Herrera or Pederson or Puig will show up in Denver, bags in hand, and writers in the locker room will have their answer, or at least part of it. It's conceivable none of the above occurs and the Dodgers surprise with something completely out of left field. Or center.
There's also a note from Ken Gurnick about the possible promotion of reliever Peter Moylan because his contract requires action before June 1. Minus the roster intrigue, Kershaw is on the hill in game one, which is more than enough reason to tune in. It's Zack Greinke vs. Yhoulys Chacin Saturday at 1:10 p.m. and Hyun-Jin Ryu vs. Jorge De La Rosa Sunday at 1:10 p.m.
Not to be overly dramatic or anything, but with the Rockies struggling after a hot start, and losers of five of the last six games, a weekend's worth of bad play from the Dodgers might renew calls for a change at the top. So fair or not, injuries or not, we could be looking at Mattingly's last stand this weekend in Colorado.