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Monday, April 15, 2013
So far, the Dodgers haven't quieted many doubters

By Mark Saxon

LOS ANGELES -- Even entering this season of soaring expectations, the Los Angeles Dodgers left many people in baseball wondering how a team with a record payroll could have so many unanswered questions.

The state of Matt Kemp's swing is just one of many unanswered questions still plaguing the Dodgers two weeks into the season.
Two weeks into the season, they haven't provided many answers.

We still don't know if Matt Kemp has recovered from a serious shoulder injury. Even if he has, when will his swing look healthy again? We still don't know if Luis Cruz can replicate his out-of-the-blue 2012 season. We still don't know if L.A. has adequate depth. We still don't know if all those expensive fixes to the lineup were upgrades or just cosmetic touch-ups.

Granted it's not ideal to lose your starting shortstop and No. 2 starter by Tax Day, but a team spending $200 million-plus would typically come up with more reassuring answers than Justin Sellers and Chris Capuano.

The Dodgers are averaging 2.8 runs per game. They rank 28th in the majors in runs scored. The problem hasn't been generating motion, it has been sparking action. By every measure of clutch hitting -- average with runners in scoring position, with runners on -- they've been flat-out awful. No way around it.

"I'm not happy with the bottom line of what's going on," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "We're getting our share of hits, we're getting our share of guys out there."

If anything, the Dodgers are showing signs of springing more leaks rather than growing more seaworthy. Cruz is batting .111 and it seems, at times, as though he pops the ball up in every at-bat. If Cruz can't hold down third base, where will the Dodgers turn? Is Los Angeles ready for a summer of Juan Uribe?

Capuano makes his first start Tuesday after two weeks of mental atrophy in the bullpen. The relievers started out like gangbusters, but have allowed 11 runs in 13 innings to the San Diego Padres, walking batter after batter. There have been flashes of excitement this season, but there also have been plenty of long games that seem to go nowhere.

"We walked six guys there in the last three innings. We had a game like that in San Diego where we walked five in an inning," Mattingly said. "Those kind of things concern me a little bit."