Friday, June 3, 2011
Injuries continue to mount for Dodgers
By Tony Jackson ESPNLosAngeles.com
CINCINNATI -- Sitting in the visiting dugout at Great American Ball Park a couple of hours before Friday night's game, a 2-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly resorted to gallows humor. Asked who might be likely to lose his spot on the roster when veteran infielder Juan Uribe comes off the disabled list, something that is tentatively slated for Monday, Mattingly smiled.
"We may have two more injuries by then," he said, smiling.
By the end of the evening, the Dodgers did have two more injuries. And Mattingly wasn't smiling, or laughing.
One of them was pitcher Vicente Padilla, who was already on the DL anyway, but he was supposed to come off to take the roster spot of pitcher Jon Garland, who was going on the DL because of shoulder inflammation. Neither of those moves were made, however, because Padilla, who was sidelined because of a right radial-nerve problem, suffered a relapse of the neck problem that sidelined him for three weeks late last season. It doesn't appear he is coming back any time soon, so Garland wasn't DL'd but he will be on Saturday, so the Dodgers will have to call up a pitcher from the minors (probably John Ely), so ... well, you get the idea.
It took only 12 days after Rafael Furcal got off the DL for the Dodgers' shortstop to hurt himself again.
It was the other injury that potentially could be devastating to the Dodgers, who appear to have lost Rafael Furcal for a significant amount of time again. He has what looks to be a strained left oblique, and Mattingly seemed resigned to the fact Furcal is headed back to the DL just 12 days after he came off of it.
So, going forward, how do the Dodgers do it? Because the last time they lost Furcal, for six weeks to a broken left thumb, they only went backward.
"We have to figure out a way," Dodgers catcher Rod Barajas said. "Jamey [Carroll] did a great job filling in for Fookie while he was out. We can't sit here and feel sorry for ourselves. We have to keep plugging away. That is what good teams do. You have to overcome those obstacles. If we can't overcome obstacles, we'll be in trouble. That is the bottom line. I think we're definitely capable of doing it."
So far, though, the Dodgers haven't really shown that.
During Furcal's previous absence, the Dodgers, who were 6-4 at the time he went on the DL, went 15-22. Add the first five games after he returned, when he battled through a monstrous 1-for-22 slump, and they went 17-25.
Furcal would go 8 for 17 over the next five games, one of which he didn't play in, and the Dodgers would go 3-2, including a three-game winning streak during which they scored eight, seven and eight runs. In all other games this season, the Dodgers have averaged 3.3 runs.
"We're going to compete," Mattingly insisted. "We're going to have to find a way to put up offense. We have consistently kept ourselves in games. We got a little giddy the other day and scored three days in a row, but we're going to have to consistently find a way to score runs if we're going to compete."
Once Furcal left the game -- he hurt himself on a rundown play in the bottom of the second, played the rest of the inning, then gave way to a pinch hitter to begin the third -- the Dodgers (26-32) reverted to their previous Furcal-less form.
In the fourth, they loaded the bases with nobody out and scored all of one run, that on a sacrifice fly, with Matt Kemp somehow getting caught off second base despite the fact the ball was hit to left field. In the fifth, Hiroki Kuroda (5-6) gave up a two-out, bases-loaded single to Scott Rolen, giving the Reds a 2-1 lead. At that point, the game was basically over, the Dodgers mounting a couple of mini-threats but otherwise making out after out after out.
They also managed to go hitless in six at-bats with runners in scoring position in a game they lost by one run.
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When Furcal and Garland are placed there, presumably on Saturday, the Dodgers will have 10 players on the disabled list.
"We're not the first team that has ever happened to," Barajas said. "It's definitely not ideal, but good teams find a way to overcome. If we want to even think about making the playoffs, we have to figure out a way to make up for those losses."
Furcal will be going on the DL for the fourth time in the last two seasons. This isn't a new problem, and based on recent history, it is one the Dodgers should have known they stood a good chance of facing again. Barajas is right when he says Carroll did a good job filling in before, but Carroll is a different type of player, far from the multi-faceted offensive threat that Furcal is when he is healthy. In short, it doesn't look promising.
In a season that already has had many more lows than highs, the Dodgers just might have hit bottom with this development. This time, it will take more than gallows humor to save them.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.