Dodgers left wishing Jamey Carroll was contagious
If only Jamey Carroll were an infectious disease. If he carried the hustle virus.
If only his unmitigated effort and energy would translate to the rest of the Dodgers.
Then they would have something going. Then they would never, as James Loney suggested, claim that at times other teams played harder.
Carroll plays with the pedal to the floor. Hustles like it’s all he knows. Ran all out to first in April when the season was full of promise and in September after it had slipped away.
"The type of thing he does, you wish it was infectious," said manager Joe Torre. "There isn’t any question. Hands down, every single guy who would vote for the player of the year on this club, he would get the vote from everybody. He was a backup player who winded up getting like 400, 350 at-bats."
Carroll is batting .295 and leads the Dodgers with a .383 on-base percentage. If he had more at-bats to qualify, he would be 11th in the National League. He leads all major leaguers with less than five home runs.
Yet it hasn’t rubbed off on his teammates. He can almost seem an island of hustle.
"I know, we sit here and say, 'What’s so tough about that?' " Torre said. "But that’s who we have. A lot of that is not being lazy, it’s just being emotional. Guys get frustrated. They hit a pop-up and they’re so angry at themselves, they sort of disconnect and don’t run. Guys have to be reminded every once in a while on about every team I’ve been on, whether as a player or a manager."
Of course, that a utility player who has no home runs and only 23 RBI on the year would be promoted as a unanimous team MVP is telling about the type of season the Dodgers have had.
"It is unfortunate," Torre said. "It’s not a slight on him, but we needed more production from the middle of our lineup. We expected it when we left spring training; we thought we were going to be an offensive club. Baseball is filled with surprises. You hope the good ones outnumber the bad ones."
Carroll qualifies as a good surprise. Carroll, 36, has another year remaining on his contract.
-- Steve Dilbeck