Dodgers Report: Jerry Hairston Jr.

TV talent: Hershiser, Garciaparra, Hairston

February, 14, 2014
LOS ANGELES -- Former major leaguers Orel Hershiser, Nomar Garciaparra and Jerry Hairston Jr. will serve as analysts for SportsNet LA's signature live daily show on the Los Angeles Dodgers, which will air pregame and postgame during the regular season, as well as nightly during spring training.

The network's program was announced Friday.

During the regular season, "Access SportsNet: Dodgers" will air for 30 minutes before each live regular-season game on SportsNet LA and also following the game.

SportsNet LA is scheduled to launch Feb. 25.

Programming will also include a new behind-the-scenes show called "Backstage: Dodgers."

Predicting the future of Dodgers free agents

October, 24, 2013
For a team with 11 impending free agents, the Los Angeles Dodgers have relatively easy decisions to make regarding each of them. None of their free agents will demand endless hours of the front office's time as the sides negotiate some mega-contract to keep a homegrown superstar from bolting.

Each of the Dodgers' free agents are, as they say, role players. The only two everyday players are Mark Ellis and Juan Uribe. Ellis has already been replaced by Cuban second baseman Alexander Guerrero, who signed earlier this week. The only core pitchers are a No. 4 starter, Ricky Nolasco, and an eighth-inning setup man, Brian Wilson, important but not irreplaceable players.

The Dodgers already have set the narrative for the remainder of their offseason. Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti and manager Don Mattingly (who looks as if he no longer will become a free agent) said it concisely. The Dodgers want to get younger and, as a result, more athletic and less injury-prone.

That should be the lens through which we see each of the following free-agent decisions. We'll rank the free agents in reverse order of relevance and predict whether they will be with the team next spring:

Jerry Hairston Jr.

He's one of the most likeable guys the Dodgers had last year and a good clubhouse guy, because he can roll with a joke and moves easily between various cultures. His versatility also proved important to the Dodgers at times in his two seasons in L.A. They could put him at any position besides pitcher and catcher and he could hold his own. There aren't many guys like that.

He'll be 38 next May, he has been bothered by serious injuries each of the past two seasons. He'll make a great broadcaster some day and he'll have to decide whether he's ready to embark on a new career now or try to latch on with a team on a minor league deal.

Prediction: walks

Edinson Volquez

This was a nice zero-risk move by the front office, scooping him up from the San Diego Padres after they released him. He gave them five starts -- some awful, some decent, some pretty good -- allowing the Dodgers to rest their main starting pitchers for the playoffs.

A few years ago, the Dodgers might have taken a flyer on Volquez to help fill out their No. 4 and 5 rotation spots. Not under these owners. They have far grander designs. If they acquire a pitcher, it probably will be a star-caliber one, not a guy who's questionable to even make the rotation. If he comes back, it would have to be on a minor league deal with the agreement that he will pitch in Triple-A until the Dodgers need him.

Prediction: walks

Chris Capuano

He handled it with class when the Dodgers left him off their NLCS roster even though he had given them three scoreless innings in the previous round. But like some of the other pitchers on this list, he just doesn't seem to fit the Dodgers' current mandate: to win at whatever cost. He might turn out to be a nice bottom-of-the-market signing for a team on a budget looking for a left-hander who can either start or be a reliever. Hard to see that team being the Dodgers.

Prediction: walks

(Read full post)

Hairston frustrated with roster snub

October, 3, 2013
ATLANTA -- Veteran utility man Jerry Hairston Jr. admitted to being disappointed he was left off the Dodgers' playoff roster for the first round. Hairston thought he had a good chance of making it, particularly after injuries to Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp.

The Dodgers have worked out Dee Gordon and Scott Van Slyke as emergency center-field options for this series. Neither player has ever played the position. As recently as 2011, Hairston, 37, played 20 games in center field with the Washington Nationals and Milwaukee Brewers.

"I know I've lost a step, maybe two, but I like to think I'm pretty intelligent and know how to play that position pretty well," Hairston said. "It wasn't my decision. I'm going to support my teammates who have worked very hard to get here."

Hairston's goal is a second World Series ring. He would be eligible for the Dodgers' roster should they advance to the NLDS, but that might not be an easy task since Ethier could be healthy by then and the Dodgers could carry an extra pitcher.

"Fans in L.A. deserve a chance to see their team win the world championship," Hairston said. "That wouldn't be a bad thing to have on your resume, a Yankees championship and a Dodgers championship."

Hairston batted just .143 in the second half, but he points out that he did so in scattered opportunities. Hairston got just 84 at-bats after the All-Star Game.

"Somebody said I'm struggling? Come on, man, in that many at-bats?" Hairston said.

Picking right playoff roster is puzzle

September, 24, 2013
SAN FRANCISCO -- Between now and the middle of next week, the Los Angeles Dodgers will be pondering the unkindest cut of all.

Jerry Hairston Jr. is a 12-year veteran who has won a World Series ring and competed in two postseasons. He has been part of the fabric of the Dodgers' clubhouse for the past two seasons. He's a gregarious, popular player who has, at times, helped bring along some of the team's young players.

[+] EnlargeJerry Hairston
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY SportsJerry Hairston Jr. is an important veteran presence in the Dodgers' clubhouse, but will that be enough for him to make the postseason roster?
But can the Dodgers afford to carry an aging, injury-prone utility player who, while playing sparingly, has batted .215 this season and .152 since Aug. 1?

"To be honest with you, I don't think about it," Hairston said. "The good thing about it is I don't make those decisions."

It's not as though the Dodgers don't know what their core is. They have four everyday options to play the outfield and, assuming Andre Ethier is healthy enough, they'll all be in the mix for heavy playing time in the playoffs. They have their five everyday infielders, including the catcher. They'll bring four starting pitchers with them and they haven't decided if they'll keep a fifth should they require a long man or emergency replacement.

They figure to bring seven relievers. Nick Punto and Skip Schumaker have played significant roles and look like locks. Tim Federowicz is the No. 2 catcher, so he's on.

Michael Young has batted .385 since the Dodgers acquired him from the Philadelphia Phillies on Aug. 31 and, since they got him in part because of his postseason experience, he seems like a safe bet.

But what about Dee Gordon, whose speed makes him a tempting weapon, but whose lack of polish in other areas could make him an iffy proposition? Or, Scott Van Slyke, who can provide power off the bench, but is also somewhat uni-dimensional?

Between Edinson Volquez, Carlos Marmol and Chris Capuano -- all veteran pitchers -- one, at most, figures to make the cut. What about Brandon League, who has pitched poorly all season but is signed for two more years at $7.5 million per season?

(Read full post)

Dodgers limping to the finish

September, 15, 2013

LOS ANGELES -- For the first time in nearly three months, the Los Angeles Dodgers have hit some serious turbulence, and it’s no surprise it has coincided with a series of injuries.

The Dodgers got no closer to clinching the NL West with a 4-3 loss to the San Francisco Giants on Sunday, their eighth loss in the past 11 games. The Arizona Diamondbacks won, so the earliest the Dodgers can clinch is Tuesday at Chase Field in Phoenix.

Yasiel Puig, who was the latest Dodgers outfielder to go down with an injury, pinch hit in the ninth inning and swung at the first pitch from Sergio Romo, grounding out to shortstop.

Due to injuries, the Dodgers had an outfield of Jerry Hairston Jr., Skip Schumaker and Nick Buss on Sunday. Remember those stories about how difficult it would be to accommodate four star outfielders when Matt Kemp gets healthy? Now, the Dodgers are desperate to get Kemp back.

Brett Pill, the pride of San Dimas, Calif., hit the decisive home run off Paco Rodriguez in the eighth inning.

Perhaps this offseason Hunter Pence can celebrate that he kept the Dodgers from clinching right in the Giants’ faces. He had quite a series, mashing five home runs and driving in 12 runs. It wouldn’t have hurt for the Dodgers to make better pitches to him. Edinson Volquez grooved one that Pence sent screaming over the left-field fence in the sixth inning, a two-run shot that tied the game at 3-all.

The last Giants hitter to have five home runs and 12 RBIs in one series was Mel Ott. That was 84 years ago.

The Dodgers didn’t do much against Ryan Vogelsong, but he made the mistake of having to pitch to the wrong man in the wrong situation. Against an injury-riddled lineup, Vogelsong hit Mark Ellis with a pitch to load the bases for Adrian Gonzalez, one of the Dodgers’ best clutch hitters.

Gonzalez pulled a double into the right-field corner to clear the bases.

It's hard to convince this team it's going to lose

August, 9, 2013
LOS ANGELES -- In May, when the Los Angeles Dodgers fell behind by a run or two in the fourth inning, it felt as if their path was being blocked by a sleepy Brachiosaurus. They weren't going anywhere.

Now, when they fall behind 6-0 in the seventh inning, against one of the hottest pitchers in baseball and one of the best teams, with the fatigue seeping deep into their bones, it feels as if a ladybug has settled on the path in front of them.

[+] EnlargeAdrian Gonzalez
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY SportsAdrian Gonzalez scores the winning run in the ninth to complete the Dodgers' dramatic comeback from a 6-0 deficit on Friday night.
They either step on it or it gets out of the way.

The Dodgers did the nearly impossible Friday -- according to one of those probability programs, their chances to win were less than 1 percent in the eighth inning -- but it never felt all that improbable. They rallied for all seven of their runs in the final three innings for a 7-6 defeat of the Tampa Bay Rays, scoring four times off closer Fernando Rodney.

When the Dodgers were at their low point, losing in lifeless, low-scoring games early in the season, manager Don Mattingly said he wanted to be the kind of team that never considered itself out of a game. By now, we can probably safely say they've become that team.

Even when they're operating on a few hours of sleep after spending the previous week in the Central time zone, and then flying half the night. Even when their fielding in the early innings feels as if it needs a laugh track.

The Dodgers sleepwalked until they realized they might actually lose Friday night. When you see a team start to take on that kind of identity, able to will itself to wins, you can see the makings of a special season.

"Everybody knows we got in late. We know we got in late and came off a road trip, but even with that, these guys still came out to play," Mattingly said. "We feel like we can win every day."

And they're proving it, day after day, week after week, soon to be month after month.

The Dodgers are 18-3 since the All-Star break, 35-8 since June 21, and pretty much immune to their opponent. They looked sleepy and uninterested while sweeping four games from the hapless Chicago Cubs. They kept right on going, winning four of the next five against powerhouse teams, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Rays.

You always wonder when a team's fortunes will change. They invariably do in baseball, at some point, right?

But the end wouldn't appear to be imminent. The Dodgers have Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw pitching in these next two games. After that, they welcome a lousy New York Mets team to Dodger Stadium.

Even if none of that were true, the Dodgers would still go into each of those games feeling as if they would win. They'll keep thinking that way until the evidence suggests otherwise.

Dodgers overcome a wobbly start

August, 9, 2013

LOS ANGELES -- Every once in a while, a major league game begins, and one of the teams doesn't look ready.

The Los Angeles Dodgers had one of those nights Friday -- and it's probably no coincidence they spent Thursday night in the air, flying home from St. Louis -- but these days, nothing bad seems to stick to them.

The Dodgers closed furiously, scoring all of their runs in the final three innings, including four in the ninth off Tampa Bay closer Fernando Rodney, who -- at least for one night -- didn't shoot off any imaginary arrows.

In fact, it was his errant throw into center field on Jerry Hairston Jr.'s comebacker that sent home the winning run and delivered a 7-6 Dodgers' victory after they had faced a 6-0 deficit.

As long as the slow starts don't happen repeatedly in the next couple of months, the Dodgers probably don't have much to worry about. But this was a doozy.

In the second and third innings, the Dodgers seemed to be playing to the theme song from "The Benny Hill Show." Hairston and Yasiel Puig both lost pop ups in the twilight. Nick Punto flubbed a routine grounder to shortstop. Puig airmailed cutoff men left and right, seemingly firing at will and allowing runners to take extra bases.

Meanwhile, for most of the game, the Rays played their usual stalwart defense, Evan Longoria's wayward seventh-inning throw their first error in two weeks.

But the Dodgers withstood all their early foibles, rallying once Tampa ace David Price was out of the game. Price did a demolition job on the Dodgers' bat rack, shattering bats left and right. Price pitched to the game, dominating early and protecting a big lead late by throwing strikes.

The Dodgers kept their NL West lead at 5 1/2 games over the Arizona Diamondbacks. The game took three hours, 50 minutes to complete and the Dodgers were forced to cancel their postgame fireworks show because of curfew limitations.

The Dodgers will get their chance at a sweep when they send their Cy Young winners, Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw out to the mound over the next two days.

A somewhat vexing problem was a step backward from No. 5 starter Chris Capuano, who was out of the game by the fifth inning. Capuano had pitched into the seventh inning without giving up a run in each of his two previous outings, but this was a return to earlier form. He gave up 10 hits and five earned runs in 4 1/3 innings.

This series -- though it's an odd matchup of teams that rarely cross paths -- has some comparative value. The Dodgers and Rays started slowly, but have each hit their stride since June, cutting their way through the standings.

The Dodgers have gone 35-8 since June 22. The Rays have the second-best record in that span, going 28-12.

Maybe this is a preview of the World Series. Who knows? If so, the Dodgers can only hope they get off to a faster start in October than they did in August, but they'll gladly take the finish.

Dodgers make a statement in St. Louis

August, 8, 2013

ST. LOUIS -- As much as the Los Angeles Dodgers want to pretend this series was just another series, and the end of a long two-city, eight-game trip, it was more than that.

The St. Louis Cardinals are not just any other team, and Busch Stadium has not been just any other ballpark for the Dodgers.

Thursday's 5-1 win gave the Dodgers only their second series win at Busch Stadium over the past decade. In fact, before Wednesday's 13-4 blowout win, the Dodgers were just 9-24 over the past 10 seasons in St. Louis.

The Dodgers know they're a good team, but nothing drove home the fact that they are a legitimate World Series contender now more than their 3-1 series win over St. Louis this week.

"This is a good team," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said before the game. "We came into St. Louis knowing this is a good club over there. That's a team that's won a world championship a couple years ago and was one game away from getting there last year. We see their lineup. They're a team that hits with men in scoring position, they score runs and they have good, young position players. You don't come here and mess around or you get your butt beat."

Hyun-Jin Ryu claimed his 11th win of the season, pitching seven innings and giving up five hits and one run, while striking out seven. Ryu now has 22 strikeouts and one walk in his past three starts. Ryu made the start Thursday night with five days rest and is now 6-0 on the season with five days rest.

Adrian Gonzalez got things started in the third inning with a sacrifice fly to left that scored Carl Crawford. A.J. Ellis then homered to left to score Gonzalez and Andre Ethier. Jerry Hairston Jr. put the finishing touches on the win when he singled to center to score Ellis.

No one has benefited more from the trip than Crawford, who started the game 2-for-2 and was 13-for-31 (.419) with six singles and two doubles in the eight games.

Yasiel Puig, who batted .480 on the trip, was 3-for-5 and now has 26 multihit games this season, which places him second on the team despite playing in just 57 games.

Before the game, Hanley Ramirez and Matt Kemp were working out and eyeing their returns, with Ramirez slated to come back next week and Kemp projected to come back this month. The question now is, Where will Kemp play if Puig, Crawford and Ethier are playing well and the Dodgers are winning with that trio in the outfield?

The Dodgers have now won 34 of their past 42 games, their best 42-game stretch since 1953, and have won 17 of their past 18 road games. They now head home for a three-game series at home against the Tampa Bay Rays with a 5½-game lead atop the NL West. Not bad for a team that was 12 games under .500 and in last place in their division on June 21.

"I don't think it's that complicated," Mattingly said. "We're getting good pitching. Our defense has been shored up. We were a bad defensive club for a while, which had a lot to do with playing guys all over the diamond, but we were able to put guys where they were supposed to be, our utility guys become utility guys and the extra guys become guys that play now and then. We just kind of got solid."

Dodgers continue to cruise down the road

August, 1, 2013
The Los Angeles Dodgers had their liveliest crowds of the season on this last homestand, but they seem to save their best baseball for when most of the people in the building are against them.

The Dodgers flew through the night to the Midwest and then played one of their most explosive games in a week in a 6-4 win over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on Thursday. It was the Dodgers' 11th straight win on the road, a new Los Angeles record. The last Dodgers team to run off that many in hostile ground was the 1955 team.

Yasiel Puig
Rob Grabowski/USA TODAY SportsYasiel Puig scored two runs and hit a solo home run to give the Dodgers some breathing room late in a win over the Cubs.
The Dodgers, who had scored four runs in their previous three games, had 12 hits and came back from a couple of early deficits.

The Dodgers got to their Chicago hotel at 7:30 a.m. and had to be at the field by 3:30 p.m.
All four of Chicago's runs came on solo home runs. Ricky Nolasco -- the only Dodger operating on a good night's sleep after he flew in early -- gave up three of them in his five innings of work, including two to Chicago's version of Puig, left fielder Junior Lake. Lake, a 23-year-old Dominican, is batting .323 with four home runs in 15 games. Anthony Rizzo also went deep twice.

Puig himself hit a solo home run in the ninth on a hanging breaking ball to give the Dodgers an extra run and closer Kenley Jansen breezed through the ninth for his 15th save.

Veteran utility player Jerry Hairston Jr. pinch hit and dribbled a key two-run single up the middle. The Dodgers are 11-2 since the All-Star break and moved back to 3½ games ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks, who lost in Texas.

The Dodgers are 28-7 since June 22 and haven't lost consecutive games since just before that streak.

Nolasco is 2-1, but the Dodgers are 4-1 in his starts, though he has struggled to pitch deep into games. The team was quiet around the trade deadline, but they made their big move more than three weeks early, with the acquisition of Nolasco from the Miami Marlins for three minor-league pitchers.

After nearly three months, back above .500

July, 11, 2013

LOS ANGELES -- If you had tried your luck a few weeks ago and put down some money on the Los Angeles Dodgers to reach the World Series, you would have gotten some pretty enticing odds.

Save the gas money on that trip to Las Vegas, though, because those odds are getting slimmer by the day.

The Dodgers won for the 16th time in their past 19 games Thursday, beating the Colorado Rockies 6-1 at Dodger Stadium. It was their fifth straight win, and they poked their head above .500 for the first time since April 15, when they were 7-6. They kept themselves an arm's length from first place, still 1½ games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks.

They're getting contributions from unlikely sources, a surefire sign of a hot team and the furthest thing from those first few months.

A few days ago, after the Dodgers landed Ricky Nolasco from Miami for three young pitchers, Chris Capuano figured he was getting bumped to the bullpen for the second time this season. Manager Don Mattingly, in fact, announced it.

Then, Stephen Fife stepped on a bullpen mound in San Francisco and couldn't get his shoulder to loosen up. Fife went on the disabled list and Capuano got a reprieve, and Thursday he resumed making a convincing case that he's worthy of one.

Capuano hadn't gotten into the fifth inning in two starts this month. He was 2-6 and had a 5.19 ERA going into Thursday's start. Then he pitched his best game of the season. He needed just 90 pitches to get through 6 1/3 innings, and he struck out a season-high eight batters.

The Dodgers looked a little sluggish the day after Wednesday's 14-inning game in Arizona. Their plane didn't touch down in Los Angeles until about 2 a.m., they had to be bused to the stadium to pick up their cars and many of them weren't in their beds until 4 a.m. or so.

What energy there was didn't come from the heart of an awakening lineup, it came from the fringes. Jerry Hairston Jr. had an RBI double -- Juan Uribe chugging all the way around from first and scoring after catcher Wilin Rosario dropped the ball on the throw home -- and Mark Ellis lined a couple of two-RBI singles to left.

For once this season, the Los Angeles Dodgers' injury prayers were answered.

It hasn't happened often this season for a Dodgers team that has seemingly placed every player on its roster on the disabled list at one point or another, but for once a player was removed from the game after getting hurt and it looks as if it won't cost him a 15-day trip to the DL.

Yasiel Puig left Wednesday night's game against the Colorado Rockies in the sixth inning after colliding with the right-field wall at Coors Field in the fifth inning. Puig bruised his left hip as he hit the fence after catching a line drive by Nolan Arenado.

Precautionary X-rays were negative on Puig, the Dodgers announced, and he's listed as day-to-day.

Despite being entrenched in a one-run game in the eighth inning when the results were revealed, there was a collective sigh of relief from everyone in the visiting clubhouse at Coors Field.

The Dodgers went on to beat the Rockies 10-8 on Wednesday to claim their fourth straight win and 10th victory in their past 11 games. The Dodgers passed the San Diego Padres in the NL West standings, are tied for second with the Rockies and are within just two games of the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks.

It was an offensive showcase for the Dodgers who had a season-high 17 hits, 10 runs and four home runs. It was also the first game since 2006 in which the Dodgers had 10 extra-base hits. Things were going so well that Juan Uribe had a tying two-run shot in the fourth inning and Matt Kemp hit his first home run since May 20 to put the game away in the ninth inning.

This is easily the best stretch the Dodgers have played all season. They could move into sole possession of second place with a win Thursday, and there is a chance they could take the division lead by the end of the week, which seemed impossible just 10 days ago when the Dodgers were 9½ games out of first place and 12 games under .500.

(Read full post)

LOS ANGELES – Derek Jeter slid into second base, called timeout and had a few seconds to chat with Baltimore Orioles second baseman Jerry Hairston Jr.

Like the rest of baseball at that time -- late May of 2004 -– Hairston was aware of how badly the New York Yankees captain was struggling.

Through 184 at-bats, Jeter was hitting .190 and -– yes -– getting booed at Yankee Stadium.

“I turned to him and said, 'DJ, you all right?,'" Hairston said. “He goes, ‘Oh yeah. I’m a bad boy.’ And that’s the mindset you want.”

Matt Kemp said he has had conversations with several future Hall of Fame players as his struggles have dragged through the season’s first two months. He wouldn’t say who he has spoken to, but he said they’ve all given him the same advice.

“That I can hit and you’ve got to believe you can hit and it’ll come back,” Kemp said. "All I’m going to do is continue to work, grind this thing out and continue to try and help my team in any way possible.”

Kemp, 28, is batting .253 with two home runs, 17 RBIs and a .637 OPS in his first 186 at-bats. On Tuesday, for the first time since 2010, Kemp was not hitting second, third or fourth for the Dodgers in a game he started. Don Mattingly moved him into the No. 5 hole.

If he wants to have another such conversation with a Hall of Fame-caliber player, he won’t have to get all the way to second base tonight. Angels first baseman Albert Pujols was batting .227 with a .646 OPS after his first 185 at-bats. He didn’t hit his first home run as an Angel until May 6.

A year ago, reporters were asking Kemp about Pujols’ struggles and whether he had become a better player than Pujols.

“I was like, ‘Hell no, are you serious?’" Kemp said.

By the end of last season, Pujols was batting .285 with 30 home runs and 105 RBIs -- career lows, but far from shabby.

“That’s not bad,” Kemp said. “If I can do that, that’s a successful season right there, I think.”

In 2004, by the way, Jeter rebounded to bat .292 with 111 runs scored.

Hairston took to Twitter Tuesday afternoon and sent the following message to his followers: “Our CF is coming off a tough surgery. keep believing in @TheRealMattKemp and all us.”

Hairston has had surgery on his left shoulder and said it can take months to regain full trust in it. He said he tweeted support because he didn’t want the booing to get out of hand.

“I didn’t want it to become the chic thing to do,” Hairston said. “Matt has given this city so much at such a young age. I see how much Matt puts into it.”

Here are lineups for Tuesday night's game against the Angels:

1. Erick Aybar SS
2. Mike Trout CF
3. Albert Pujols 1B
4. Mark Trumbo LF
5. Josh Hamilton RF
6. Howie Kendrick 2B
7. Alberto Callaspo 3B
8. Chris Iannetta C
9. Joe Blanton RHP

1. Carl Crawford LF
2. Mark Ellis 2B
3. Adrian Gonzalez 1B
4. Andre Ethier RF
5. Matt Kemp CF
6. A.J. Ellis C
7. Juan Uribe 3B
8. Luis Cruz SS
9. Hyun-Jin Ryu LHP

That's what team chemistry looks like

May, 27, 2013
LOS ANGELES -- One of the questions that set off Don Mattingly's now-famous rant about wanting to see more fight centered around a comparison of this season's team to last year's.

In Game 48 of the 2012 season, the Los Angeles Dodgers had a lineup featuring such luminaries as Tony Gwynn Jr., Elian Herrera, Bobby Abreu, Jerry Hairston Jr. and Dee Gordon. After that game, their record was 32-16, or 11 1/2 games better than the twice-as-expensive 2013 version.

[+] EnlargeAdrian Gonzalez
Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesAdrian Gonzalez is 9-for-11 with seven RBIs since Saturday.
Last year's team, at least for a while, must have been among the grittiest in the history of grit.

We saw a rare reprisal of that theme in an otherwise big-money flop of a season: Monday night's 8-7 win over the no-longer-streaking Los Angeles Angels. Mattingly's lineup had two guys who weren't on the roster on Opening Day and two more who were supposed to be on the bench.

The Angels, who only recently turned on their power, had five starters -- Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Mark Trumbo, Josh Hamilton and Howie Kendrick -- with more home runs than the Dodgers' team leader, Adrian Gonzalez.

And guess what? Grit!

The Dodgers fought their way out of a 6-1 hole, relentlessly pestering C.J. Wilson and a couple of Angels relievers. The most amazing thing about this modest uptick in their play -- 3-2 since Mattingly's comments -- is that it has come with virtually no contributions from their marquee player, Matt Kemp, who is struggling so mightily Mattingly hinted he might soon drop him in the order.

Kemp struck out four times Monday -- a rare feat -- and has 13 strikeouts in his past 23 plate appearances. Adrian Gonzalez has been the engine: He's 9-for-11 with seven RBIs since Saturday, but Monday was one of those team wins, the kind the Dodgers somehow pulled out, one after the next, last season.

Nick Punto, Scott Van Slyke, Hairston, Luis Cruz and -- of all people -- Juan Uribe played major roles.

"We haven't had many rallies like that, behind by a lot, too. It's a good sign," said pitcher Zack Greinke.

Quick take: Dodgers 8, Angels 7

May, 27, 2013

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers showed plenty of fight Monday night.

The Dodgers clawed their way out of a 6-1 hole by steadily chipping away against lefty C.J. Wilson and the Los Angeles Angels’ unpredictable bullpen. It was the Dodgers’ biggest rally of the season and led to an 8-7 win at Dodger Stadium that snapped the Angels' eight-game winning streak.

The big inning was the fifth, when the Dodgers scored four times to tie it. Mark Ellis had a clutch two-run double and Adrian Gonzalez and Scott Van Slyke had RBI hits.

Jerry Hairston Jr., in his first day back after missing three weeks with a strained groin, singled to drive in Gonzalez in the seventh to give the Dodgers the decisive run. Gonzalez is among the hottest hitters in baseball. He scored four times -- including huffing and puffing all the way from first on Van Slyke’s double off the left-field wall -- and has nine hits in his past 11 at-bats.

The game began at 5:10 p.m., when the Dodgers normally would be taking batting practice. It looked a lot like their body clocks never caught up. Matt Kemp got back on Albert Pujols’ deep line drive, but it clanged off his glove for a charitably-ruled double. Ramon Hernandez allowed a passed ball, then appeared to forget to throw to first base and, by the time he did, he rushed it and threw high to Adrian Gonzalez.

The ball bounced off Gonzalez’s glove, too. That started the Dodgers off in a 2-0 hole, which grew deeper as Zack Greinke struggled for a second straight start, both against teams he played for last season. Greinke allowed six runs on 10 hits and couldn’t get an out in the fifth inning.

The Dodgers these days are largely playing around Kemp, who looks lost in the batter’s box and gets roundly booed every night now. Kemp struck out four more times and has struck out in 13 of his past 23 plate appearances.

The teams combined to hit 11 doubles, a new Dodger Stadium record.

Dee Gordon goes back to Triple-A

May, 27, 2013
The Los Angeles Dodgers aren’t ready to give up on Luis Cruz, and that meant they had to break some bad news to Dee Gordon.

They activated veteran utility guy Jerry Hairston Jr. from the 15-day disabled list Monday, and, rather than designate Cruz for assignment, they optioned Gordon to Triple-A Albuquerque.

Cruz is batting .096 and has scarcely played for weeks, but he is out of options and could be lost to another team if L.A. demotes him. With Hanley Ramirez’s return on the horizon, the Dodgers decided they can get through the next week or so with a combination of Cruz and Nick Punto playing shortstop. So, Gordon had to go back to Albuquerque, and he seemed far from pleased, chucking his batting gloves at his locker stall.

“I don’t know how happy he was about it, but I told him he made a lot of strides defensively,” manager Don Mattingly said.

According to Mattingly, the Dodgers still see offensive upside in Gordon, although he is a .251 hitter (with a .296 on-base percentage) in his first 590 major league at-bats. Mattingly compared Gordon to Michael Bourne, a late bloomer known for his blinding speed.

Ramirez, on the disabled list since May 4 with a strained left hamstring, likely will begin a minor league rehab assignment next weekend. He figures to join the Dodgers some time next week.

Here are lineups for the opener of four straight games against the Los Angeles Angels:

1. Erick Aybar SS
2. Mike Trout CF
3. Albert Pujols 1B
4. Mark Trumbo LF
5. Josh Hamilton RF
6. Howie Kendrick 2B
7. Alberto Callaspo 3B
8. Hank Conger C
9. C.J. Wilson LHP

1. Nick Punto SS
2. Mark Ellis 2B
3. Matt Kemp CF
4. Adrian Gonzalez 1B
5. Scott Van Slyke RF
6. Ramon Hernandez C
7. Jerry Hairston Jr. LF
8. Luis Cruz 3B
9. Zack Greinke RHP



Yasiel Puig
.296 16 69 92
HRA. Gonzalez 27
RBIA. Gonzalez 116
RY. Puig 92
OPSY. Puig .863
WC. Kershaw 21
ERAC. Kershaw 1.77
SOC. Kershaw 239