Dee Gordon began taking grounders at second base during pregame warmups last week in Albuquerque, leading to speculation that he could be brought up as the replacement for Mark Ellis if he's headed for the 15-day disabled list.
That would require a couple of roster moves, since Clayton Kershaw also is coming off the bereavement list to pitch tonight. Ted Lilly, who got a cortisone injection a few days ago for a sore lower back, also might be headed for the DL, which could give the Dodgers room to reach to the minor leagues for some help for their struggling offense.
But would they be better off going with thunder rather than lightening? In one regard, Scott Van Slyke clearly isn't the Dodgers' hottest prospect. He turns 27 in July and he no longer is on the 40-man roster, making it an expensive hassle to get him into the Dodgers' clubhouse. Guys on the 40-man earn more money than guys who aren't, plus the Dodgers would have to put Chad Billingsley on the 60-day DL to accommodate that move.
In another regard, he is easily the Dodgers' hottest prospect. Through his first 99 at-bats, Van Slyke is bating .404 and, amazingly, has a 1.226 OPS. A bat that hot seems like one you can find a place for, but it's easier said than done. Van Slyke plays the positions -- first base and outfield -- that are the areas of least need for the Dodgers.
Still, it might be worth a shot. Wednesday night Don Mattingly went to Justin Sellers (.203 lifetime) as a pinch hitter -- in a winnable game -- after Josh Beckett made a premature exit. The Dodgers have, basically, no power on the bench. With the exception of Nick Punto, the Dodgers' bench players have been cold as ice and, given Ellis' situation, Punto might not even be categorized as a bench player any longer. He has played in every game since April 24.
Van Slyke (6-foot-5, 250 pounds) is the kind of guy Earl Weaver would have loved. He can sit there for seven innings, grab a bat and break open a game late for you with a home run. Granted, he hasn't exactly done that in the major leagues, batting .167 in 54 at-bats.
But when a player is putting up Triple-A numbers that Babe Ruth would have aspired to, don't you have to at least explore that option?