Ah, yes, I remember the day well. A day much like today. An off-day following another Dodgers’ loss.
The team eight games under .500 and 7½ games back. Absolute toast, I was certain. So certain I wrote a column declaring the Dodgers’ season over. It was July 26, 2006.
The Los Angeles Daily News so loved the column, they didn’t run it in the sports section, but stripped it across the top of A-1. Their very own little rabble rouser. It was just so cute.
Of course, as you all know by now, it was simply a ploy to inspire the disheartened Boys in Blue. Their manhood all challenged, they proceeded to win. And win some more. And then win like it was all they knew.
After that column, the Dodgers came back to win 11 consecutive games and 17 of their next 18. They ended up in a tie for the National League West with the Padres and advanced into the postseason as the wild card.
And to this day, not a word of thanks from the Dodgers for turning their season around.
Alas, here the Dodgers are again, eight games under for the first time since that day in 2006. Albeit, nine games back this time.
Steve Dilbeck and The Times' Dodgers reporters
give you all the news on the boys in blue
Ned Colletti is back on the radio: Implies players taking advantage of disabled list; later said he was just 'having fun'
Maybe Ned Colletti is just not a morning person. Or he should just stay off radio talk shows. Or at least Peter Tilden’s show.
Colletti was on Tilden’s show on KABC 790, the Dodgers’ flagship radio station, again Tuesday morning and again managed to take a benign question and create controversy.
Asked about the incredible number of Dodgers who have gone on the disabled list this season, Colletti said:
"It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen," Colletti said. "Sometimes you wonder what the thought process is, too.
"The disabled list used to be some place a player never wanted to go. And now it might be a safe haven, it might be a couple of weeks vacation. You just hope everybody is doing everything they can to get back and play.
"The money’s great, the lifestyle. The work is tough and all of that."
Reached before Tuesday’s game against the Cincinnati Reds, Colletti backtracked, saying he did not believe any of the Dodgers were taking advantage of the disabled list nor implying they weren’t actually injured.
Hope you’re liking that closer by committee or matchups or roll of the dice or whatever it is, because it doesn’t figure to change soon.
The Dodgers learned Monday they had lost their No. 3 closer, Vicente Padilla, for an extended period and possibly even the season, when it was decided he needed disk surgery in his neck.
Manager Don Mattingly said Padilla is scheduled to undergo surgery Thursday.
"He’s going to be out for an extended period, it’s not one of those two-, three-week deals," Mattingly said.
He said it could even prove the end to Padilla’s season.
"It sounds like it could be," Mattingly said. "It just depends on how he comes out" of surgery.
Top prospect Dee Gordon is starting at shortstop and batting leadoff for the Dodgers on Tuesday, something he could be doing for the next month.
Manager Don Mattingly said Rafael Furcal, whom Gordon is replacing, isn’t expected back for 25-30 days. Furcal received an injection of platelet-rich plasma in his strained side muscle.
Sidelined pitchers Vicente Padilla and Jon Garland are facing more uncertain recoveries. Mattingly said the Dodgers don’t have a timetable for either of them. Padilla underwent an MRI exam on Monday, which showed inflammation in a disk in his neck. A similar problem sidelined him for the final month of last season.
Sidelined relievers Hong-Chih Kuo and Kenley Jansen will both be pitching in minor-league games on Thursday, Kuo with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga and Jansen with Double-A Chattanooga.
The decision for Kuo to pitch was made by the left-hander himself. Kuo is on the disabled list with an anxiety disorder.
Jonathan Broxton threw a bullpen session on Tuesday and is scheduled to throw another on Thursday.
-- Dylan Hernandez in Philadelphia
Will leave connecting any dots up to you.
-- Jonathan Broxton: Bone spur, bruise on left elbow, first time on DL. Listed at 300 pounds.
-- Rafael Furcal: Left oblique injury sends him back to the DL for sixth time as a Dodger and second time this season. He is 33.
-- Jon Garland: Also his second stint, this time with an inflamed shoulder. During the off-season, said teams shied away from long-term contract offer because of MRI exam on shoulder. He is 31.
-- Hector Gimenez: Forget about him? Had knee surgery after appearing in just four games. He is listed as 28.
-- Blake Hawksworth: Hip impingement has him on DL for first time in career. Expected back next week, though was originally expected back last week. He is also 28.
-- Kenley Jansen: Inflamed right shoulder. He’s just 23, but converted catcher only in his second full season as a pitcher. Have to wonder about arm strength.
-- Hong-Chih Kuo: Sadly, after four elbow operations, the DL is his second home. This time he’s out indefinitely with anxiety disorder. Turns 30 next month. Is throwing at Phoenix camp.
-- Vicente Padilla: On for the second time this season, this time with a sore forearm following surgery last spring. Padilla, 33, was scheduled to come off Friday, but remained on with the same neck pain that plagued him last season. Has been on the DL 10 times in his career.
-- Marcus Thames: Has a quad strain, but expected back next week. He is 34.
-- Juan Uribe: Strained left hip flexor. Uribe, 32, is expected to be activated Monday.
Previously on the DL were Casey Blake (37), Jay Gibbons (34) and Dioner Navarro (27). The Dodgers have used the DL 18 times in 58 games.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Former All-Star reliever Hong-Chih Kuo delivers a pitch against the Giants in the eighth inning of a game at Dodger Stadium in early April. Credit: Gus Ruelas / Associated Press
The Dodgers need a closer. Manager Don Mattingly wants a closer. And he has one -- sort of -- coming off the disabled list Friday.
Only despite the gaping hole in the bullpen, Vicente Padilla will not necessarily be reinstated as the Dodgers' closer.
Mattingly went all wish-washy when asked Wednesday if Padilla will return as the closer when he is activated Friday.
"We really haven't talked about it too much," Mattingly said. "With him, you're not afraid to put him in that role.
"But the way we've done it to this point, we've got different guys we've used in different situations, kind of how we used Rubby [De La Rosa] last night for two innings. We've used Javy [Guerra].
"It's how we get there. Sometimes that save for me may come in the seventh. That may be a spot for him there. But I definitely won't be afraid to use him at the end of the game."
Not that Mattingly necessarily will, either. Very strange.
With injuries to Jonathan Broxton, Hong-Chih Kuo, Kenley Jansen and Padilla, the Dodgers have used six relievers to close their first 26 victories.
Padilla, coming off spring forearm surgery, was elevated to the role when Broxton and Kuo went down. He converted on all three of his save opportunities before forearm soreness flared.
While he was out rehabbing, Jansen went down with a sore shoulder. And then Mattingly had no designated guy, which apparently is the way it will continue for now.
"Honestly, I'd like to have that guy in the ninth where you say, 'This is our guy in the ninth and this is where we go.' And then you work to him," Mattingly said. "We haven't been able to put that scenario together. It's been really flexible in terms of how we're doing it.
"But I'd still like to have that guy in the ninth and know this is where we're going. We've asked a lot of our young guys and they've responded. For now, we're going to keep asking until we get something that reflects better."
-- Steve Dilbeck
Who’s the Dodgers’ closer?
Manager Don Mattingly responded to the question with one of his own: “How do I know?”
Jonathan Broxton, Hong-Chih Kuo, Vicente Padilla and Kenley Jansen are on the disabled list.
Mattingly said that if his team has a ninth-inning lead, he is inclined to call on one of the pitchers recently promoted from the minors to close: Javy Guerra, Scott Elbert or Rubby De La Rosa.
Veterans Matt Guerrier and Mike MacDougal have been the Dodgers’ most consistent performers out of the bullpen, but Mattingly said he would like to continue using them in middle-relief roles. Mattingly pointed to how Guerrier and MacDougal have often entered games in the middle of innings with men on base and limited the damage.
“If one of our younger guys get in trouble, it’s nice to have a MacDougal or Guerrier right there to come in the middle of an inning and know where they’re at,” Mattingly said. “They know how to pitch in those situations.”
-- Dylan Hernandez
Photo: Left-hander Scott Elbert will be among a group of relievers who could be used in a save situation while a handful of potential closers are on the disabled list. Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea / US Presswire
Sometimes you do what you want to do, sometimes what you have to do.
If the Dodgers had things firmly under control, then Casey Blake and Rafael Furcal would not have been rushed back from injuries. They would have been given more rehab time, more at-bats in the minors, more time to hone their skills.
Only things are not firmly within their control, not in the standings and not in terms of healthy, breathing players.
So ready or not, Friday the Dodgers activated Blake from the disabled list and optioned Russ Mitchell back to triple-A Albuquerque.
And much like Furcal, Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly admitted they are rushing him back sooner than they would like.
"It feels a little similar," Mattingly said.
Blake, who had left elbow surgery for a staph infection, went two for 14 at Albuquerque with eight strikeouts and no runs batted in.
"Obviously we’d like for him to get a bit more playing time down there," Mattingly said. "But we also know it doesn’t count.
"We really didn’t have any choice."
Even when things seem to go right for the Dodgers, somehow they still manage to go very wrong.
The Dodgers were all set up Monday for a 3-1 win on an Andre Ethier game-winning pinch hit. Ready to praise Clayton Kershaw on earning his sixth win.
Only the game proved one inning too long, Kenley Jansen unable to close it down as the Astros rallied for three, two-out runs in the ninth to escape with a 4-3 victory in Houston.
Add it to the growing list of heartbreaking losses for the Dodgers. One moment so close to victory, the next walking off in disbelieve. If familiar disbelief.
The loss dropped the Dodgers to 21-28, leaving them a season-high seven games under .500.
And for the Dodgers’ next closer …
Quick, somebody put a hand up.
That forearm soreness of Vicente Padilla’s became serious enough Thursday that the Dodgers put him on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 14 with radial nerve irritation.
To replace him, they called up Ramon Troncoso, again, from triple-A Albuquerque.
This is the same forearm Padilla had surgery on during spring training and forced him to miss the first three weeks of the season.
Shortly after he returned, however, closer Jonathan Broxton and Hong-Chih Kuo, the closer late last season, quickly went to the disabled list.
Padilla was elevated to closer, but threw 32 pitches Friday in his ninth appearance and his forearm became sore.
"It’s the same area, so it kind of relates to the same stuff,’’ Manager Don Mattingly said. ``He’s feeling a little better today, which is encouraging. But we’re on day six, and realistically we probably wouldn’t be able to use him again until day nine or 10, and then we’d have to give him a day off and we’re at day 12.
"It just makes sense for us to give him a chance to get healthy and try to deal with the long term."