Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Dodgers To Run Shortstop By Committee And Ethier At First Base?

Just when fans were anxious for Hanley Ramirez to join Matt Kemp in the list of superstar Los Angeles Dodgers players who have resurged their bats, a strained oblique will send him to the 15-day DL.

Ramirez has had a season where nagging injuries has been a theme, missing 25 starts this season.   However, he has still played in 100 games this year.  Hanley Ramirez will miss a near crucial part of the Los Angeles Dodgers season as they head into a 4 game series with a desperate Atlanta Braves team trying to get back in the playoff picture.  The Dodgers also will begin a home series with the Milwaukee Brewers, the National League’s best team, by week’s end.

Thus, for the next 10 to 15 days, the Dodgers will rotate between 3 shortstops.  Miguel Rojas, Darwin Barney, and Justin Turner will vie for time to fulfill the void Ramirez leaves in the batting order.  Rojas may earn the bulk of the playing time among the three, however Justin Turner is more effective at the plate, so he is expected to get his fair share of action as well.

What definitely strikes a slight cause of concern is that the Dodgers don’t seem very willing to reach out and call up Erisbel Arruebarrena and Alex Guerrero, whom are also on the 40-man roster.  There’s 28 million reasons over the next 4 seasons to want to see Guerrero see time in the majors and 25 Million for Arruebarrenda to play. Both have only 10 games between the two of MLB play this season.

While understood that the Dodgers are in the thick of a playoff hunt, it is a little discouraging that neither have earned the confidence of the Dodger franchise to be considered ready to play in the big leagues over Darwin Barney, more of an insurance policy pickup for the Dodgers in comparison to the statuses of Arruebarrena and Guerrero.

As the Dodgers deal with Hanley’s temporary absence, Don Mattingly has tinkered with the idea of moving exiled outfielder Andre Ethier to first base.  With only Scott Van Slyke providing depth to starter Adrian Gonzalez at first, Mattingly likes the option of having the luxury of adding the same versatility to Ethier that Van Slyke possesses.  Ethier in the past has played at first, but will obviously need more time in at the position.

“I want to get him more comfortable. I’d like to have that option. If something happens to Adrian, we’ve only got Scott Van Slyke. I want to get him to do a few more things. It’s not just take a few grounders. He has to get the ball out of a bigger glove, the footwork around the bag and getting used to the speed of ground balls.”-Don Mattingly

The idea also adds potential in the Dodgers batting order.  Ethier has shown signs that with a little more playing time that his bat may awaken and be an asset to the Dodgers offense.  Adrian Gonzalez has played in all but 3 games this season for the Los Angeles Dodgers.  He would embrace a few more days off.  And, with Scott Van Slyke locked in as the 4th outfielder in case Carl Crawford or Matt Kemp need days off, Ethier at first for Gonzalez to rest give the Dodgers lineups that can still be dangerous even when the starters are out.

As Don Mattingly works in fresh and innovative ways to keep the momentum going with the Dodgers, it’s evident that he has officially entered playoff mode.  The Dodgers are dangerous enough as it is even when not in full strength and health. Now, with Mattingly’s plug and play efforts in effect to keep his role players prepared and engaged, he is ensuring that the Dodgers across the board will be highly prepared and in the groove as fall arrives.

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Tags: Andre Ethier Don Mattingly Hanley Ramirez Los Angeles Dodgers Shortstop

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