Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Brandon League won't be pitching 'stressful' innings
By Mark Saxon
LOS ANGELES -- Two weeks ago, Brandon League was demoted from being the closer to pitching the eighth inning.
After nearly blowing a three-run lead Tuesday night, League now will be used exclusively in "less stressful," situations, manager Don Mattingly said Wednesday. Until pitching coach Rick Honeycutt and bullpen coach Chuck Crim can help "piece him back together," Mattingly said he doesn't anticipate using League in one of the last three innings when the Dodgers have a narrow lead.
The Dodgers are exploring every angle with League's struggles. Since going 8-for-9 in save chances in April, League is 3-3 with three blown saves in nine chances, a 6.75 ERA and an opponents OPS of .956.
Mattingly raised the possibility League could be dealing with a physical ailment though he said there are no indications of an injury yet. The Dodgers could be laying the groundwork for putting League on the disabled list, where he would have the leisure of working out his mechanical glitches.
The Dodgers gave League a three-year, $22.5 million contract last fall to be their closer.
His struggles have caused some uncomfortable shuffling at the back end of games. Kenley Jansen has been solid as the closer, but Ronald Belisario is just beginning to emerge from his early-season slump and the Dodgers didn't plan on using Paco Rodriguez as one of their late-inning shutdown relievers. They prefer to save him for favorable matchups against left-handed hitters.
At the very least, the Dodgers have learned something about their youngest reliever. Tuesday, Rodriguez -- who was drafted out of Florida last June -- came into League's ninth-inning mess -- tying run at first, nobody out -- and got out of it for his first career save.
It was a huge emotional swing for Rodriguez, who feared Marco Scutaro had hit the ball over Matt Kemp's head before the Dodgers center fielder tracked it down near the wall for the final out. Rodriguez erupted in wild, fist-pumping celebration.
"I was watching Matt step by step, just thinking, 'Please catch it, please catch it,' " Rodriguez said. "It's fun to come in a game and help the team get out of something like that."
* Matt Kemp, who came off the disabled list Tuesday after missing more than three weeks with a strained hamstring, was not in Wednesday's lineup. There is no health concern, Mattingly said. He's just easing him back into everyday action, as he did with Hanley Ramirez earlier.
Here are lineups for Wednesday's game, with the Dodgers trying for their second sweep of the season:
1. Andres Torres LF
2. Marco Scutaro 2B
3. Buster Posey 1B
4. Hunter Pence RF
5. Pablo Sandoval 3B
6. Juan Perez CF
7. Hector Sanchez C
8. Brandon Crawford SS
9. Tim Lincecum RHP
1. Mark Ellis 2B
2. Yasiel Puig RF
3. Adrian Gonzalez 1B
4. Hanley Ramirez SS
5. Andre Ethier CF
6. A.J. Ellis C
7. Juan Uribe 3B
8. Skip Schumaker LF
9. Clayton Kershaw LHP