No early returns from team meeting

May, 9, 2014
May 9
12:31
AM PT
LOS ANGELES -- It seemed like an odd time for a team meeting. The Los Angeles Dodgers haven't been spectacular, but they also haven't been in crisis mode. Mostly, they've just been ambling through their schedule winning a few more than they lose.

[+] EnlargeMatt Kemp
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsMatt Kemp and the Dodgers can't seem to sustain any offensive chemistry in the early part of the season.
But apparently, manager Don Mattingly and other decision-makers had seen enough things they didn't like that they figured Thursday -- before a four-game series with the first-place San Francisco Giants -- might be a good time to try to iron a few things out, at least to the extent that talking can make a team play better.

When media members were allowed into the Dodgers' clubhouse Thursday afternoon, it was empty. The 25 healthy players, injured pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu, Mattingly and the coaches were meeting in a part of the clubhouse that is off limits to the media in their first all-team meeting since spring training.

Nobody would offer many details about the topic at hand, but being ready from the first pitch on seems to be one of the themes. Being focused in the field probably came up, too. Mattingly described the theme as, "where we're going and how to get there."

"Every team I've ever been on, we've had to have those 'Come to Jesus' meetings and not play scared," starting pitcher Josh Beckett said.

There were certainly no immediate dividends to the little get-together. The Dodgers continued to leave Beckett dangling, their offense stuck on disappointing. The veteran has been fighting hard to bounce back from a serious surgical procedure and his results have been surprisingly robust, but the Dodgers simply don't score when he pitches. When Beckett has left the game in his past five starts, the Dodgers' offense had scored one, zero, two, zero and one run(s) to back him up.

Not exactly the way to reward somebody's effort.

But it's really not a Beckett thing. This offense has been a mystery since Opening Day. Just when it seems to be building momentum, it comes sputtering to a standstill. The Giants certainly seem to have a handle on how to keep it at bay. The Dodgers haven't scored more than two runs in a game against San Francisco in their past four games.

In general, a lineup with near-pristine health -- A.J. Ellis is the only injured player -- and this kind of talent shouldn't be 10th in the majors in runs and ninth in OPS.

"Guys are starting to find their swings," second baseman Dee Gordon said.

Individually, that seems entirely accurate. Yasiel Puig and Carl Crawford have been hot. Matt Kemp has been fine. Adrian Gonzalez has been in a slump, but he had three sharply hit balls Thursday that went right where the Giants infield was playing him.

What they're missing seems to be offensive chemistry. It has been widely remarked that the Giants' offense is better than the sum of its parts. Thus far, you'd have to say the opposite is true of the Dodgers' lineup.

Mark Saxon

ESPNLosAngeles.com
Mark Saxon is a staff writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com. He spent six years at the Orange County Register, and began his career at the Oakland Tribune, where he started an 11-year journey covering Major League Baseball. He has also covered colleges, including USC football and UCLA basketball.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Clayton Kershaw
WINS ERA SO IP
21 1.77 239 198
OTHER LEADERS
BAY. Puig .296
HRA. Gonzalez 27
RBIA. Gonzalez 116
RY. Puig 92
OPSY. Puig .863
ERAC. Kershaw 1.77
SOC. Kershaw 239