Dodgers Now

Steve Dilbeck and The Times' Dodgers reporters
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Category: Trent Oeltjen

No, really, the sky is falling: Matt Kemp scratched from Dodgers lineup with tight hamstring


And ain’t that special?

Matt Kemp, who at times has seemed a lone beacon in the Dodgers’ offensive darkness, was scratched from the starting lineup Friday with a tight left hamstring.

When a team is on a roll …

Kemp is enjoying a career year, leading the National League in home runs (18), while second in RBIs (53) and fifth in batting average (.329). That’s sniffin’ at triple-crown territory.

All this for a team (29-35) that entered Friday tied for last in the National League West.

Kemp, who has played in 268 consecutive games, was originally in the lineup. He was removed about an hour before the Dodgers’ game in Colorado, with Tony Gwynn Jr. moving to center and rookie Trent Oeltjen starting in left and batting second.

Casey Blake moved into Kemp’s cleanup spot.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp follows through on a two-run triple against the Rockies on Thursday night in Colorado. Credit: Doug Pensinger / Getty Images

Attempting to decipher the mysterious black hole that is the Dodgers and left field

It's quantum physics meets Rep. Anthony Weiner meets "Ulysses" meets Charley Steiner.

Are some things really not meant to be understood?

I am referring, naturally, to the Dodgers and left field. Somebody has to play it, it just seems like figuring it out is as challenging as understanding Sarah Palin on the ride of Paul Revere.

The Dodgers have started six different players in left, but be patient, it's still early June.

The Times' Dylan Hernandez asked Manager Don Mattingly about the left-field situation and he said: "It hasn't really panned out."

Sort of like Charlie Haeger and his knuckleball.

Hernandez said the Dodgers entered Thursday's game with their six-headed left-field combo having combined to hit .216 with two home runs and 16 RBIs. And then Tony Gwynn Jr. went zero for four.

This for a position that normally provides power, on a team in dire need of some extra pop.

Gwynn is apparently the starting left fielder against right-handers, though, hold on, because these things tend to change by the day.

The original master plan was for Jay Gibbons and Marcus Thames to platoon in left, but Gibbons missed the start of his season with vision problems and then Thames went on the disabled list with a strained quadriceps.

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Dodgers send down Jerry Sands, call up Trent Oeltjen

So, about the Dodgers' amazing youth movement ...

Yeah, well, one step forward. It seems, however, that Jerry Sands was deemed to have taken one step too many backward, and, really, that's tough to argue.

Since his second -- and most recent -- home run May 24, he has three hits in 35 at-bats, all singles.

He is struggling, which is to be expected for a rookie in his first time up. And, as they say, he needs regular playing time. That is something he is not likely to see now that right-handed batting Marcus Thames is off the disabled list.

So before their game Thursday at Colorado, the Dodgers optioned Sands to triple-A Albuquerque and recalled left-handed hitting outfielder Trent Oeltjen.

It's not as though this is some permanent move for Sands, nor he was a major bust. Still, he was not exactly the phenom Dodgers fans were hoping for either. He heads back down hitting .200 with two home runs and 17 runs batted in in 125 at-bats, and with a .294 on-base percentage and a .328 slugging percentage.

He did have 10 doubles, which was third best on the club, so it's not as though he was never driving the ball.

Still, he clearly could benefit from some extra Carnauba. He will play regularly at Albuquerque, work on those things he now knows need attention and return a more confident player, and most certainly this season.

This also, of course, means the Dodgers are going to give Thames a real shot at playing and earning the faith they put in him when he was signed in the off-season.

Then, he was supposed to be paired in a platoon in left field with Jay Gibbons, who was designated for assignment Monday. Now, Tony Gwynn Jr. and Oeltjen (.339, eight home runs, 34 RBIs, .429 on-base percentage, .583 slugging percentage) will be the left-handed complements to Thames. And you have to wonder how long his rope is.

To make room for Oeltjen on the 40-man roster, the Dodgers outrighted right-hander Luis Vasquez, 25, from Class-A Rancho Cucamonga.

The Dodgers remain plenty youthful and Sands is a huge part of their future. His make-up, his approach and his ability remain untarnished. For the moment, though, this feels like the right move.

-- Steve Dilbeck

No major surprises as Dodgers cut to 25-man roster, elect to go with three catchers

Mike3 There were no real surprises when the Dodgers announced their 25-man roster to open the season after Wednesday’s game.

Of course, as the five Dodgers who will start the season on the disabled list start to trickle back in early April, more bodies will get shuffled.

For now, three nonroster invitees ended up making the team -- relievers Mike MacDougal and Lance Cormier, and infielder Aaron Miles.

The bullpen, infield and outfield pretty much fell into to place as expected. The only mild surprise was the decision to go with three catchers.

A.J. Ellis and Hector Gimenez both made the opening-day roster, meaning veteran outfielder Gabe Kapler was released. Manager Don Mattingly said General Manager Ned Colletti still planned to meet with Kapler, 35, to see if there is a mutual interest in his playing at triple-A Albuquerque.

Gimenez mostly made the team because the Dodgers liked his bat, but he can also play first and dabbled some this spring in the outfield.

"We’ve been trying to build with pitching and defense," Mattingly said. "Ellis knows our staff, knows our guys. Hector did a good job too, he just doesn’t know the staff as well."

Continue reading »

Trent Oeltjen receives a rude welcoming from Aroldis Chapman

The first pitch got Trent Oeltjen’s attention.

It was high. Really high.

As in over the catcher’s mitt and over the umpire’s head.

On the mound was Aroldis Chapman, the Cincinnati Reds’ reliever who threw the fastest recorded pitch in baseball history last season at 105 mph.

Chapman’s next three pitches were strikes. Oeltjen, who is in camp on a minor league contract, struck out looking to start the seventh inning of the Dodgers’ 3-1 defeat to the Reds at Goodyear Ballpark on Thursday night.

Chapman struck out Jamie Hoffmann, then forced Trayvon Robinson to ground out to end the inning.

Oeltjen laughed as he recalled the first pitch.

“If it was at my face, I wouldn’t have had time to move,” Oeltjen said. “It woke me up. He sent a message he was throwing hard.”

Told that it also probably woke up the home-plate umpire Tony Randazzo, Oeltjen responded, “Everybody. I think the whole stadium woke up.”

Oeltjen said of Randazzo, “He wouldn’t have gotten up from that.”

Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly smiled and shook his head when asked about Chapman.

“Jeez, huh?” Mattingly said. “He was Randy Johnson-ish. It gets there quick, doesn’t it?”

-- Dylan Hernandez


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