Injuries mount for Dodgers as postseason nears
LOS ANGELES – One by one, these nagging little injuries are creeping up on the Dodgers, and not at a good time.
One game remains in the regular season. The postseason begins on Thursday. The last thing manager Don Mattingly needs to worry about is another injury.
But he's got one.
Maybe there's no reason for concern, but center fielder Matt Kemp – just 11 games into his return from the disabled list – was a late scratch Saturday because of concerns over his left ankle.
Kemp missed 52 games recovering from a sprained ankle and then hamstring soreness before he turned to the active list Sept. 17. But Mattingly said Kemp couldn't get loose after taking batting practice, and the wise course was to sit him down.
"I feel like we're being a little cautious, but he's been playing a lot," Mattingly said. "We've been trying to give him as many at-bats as possible without going too far, and obviously today he had trouble getting loose, so we didn’t want to take any chances."
Kemp wasn't talkative after the Dodgers lost to the Colorado Rockies 1-0, dressing quickly and refusing to take questions from reporters. His only comment: "We'll see tomorrow. Wake up and see how it feels tomorrow."
Injuries, some more serious than others, are gradually mounting.
Outfielder Andre Ethier is in Arizona hitting in a batting cage as he hopes his sore left ankle allows him to run the bases. Shortstop Hanley Ramirez has been playing sporadically as he deals with a nerve issue in his back. Right fielder Yasiel Puig fouled two balls off his left foot Friday night and didn't start Saturday. First baseman Adrian Gonzalez is playing through a sore quadriceps muscle.
Kemp isn't likely to play in Sunday's regular-season finale, leaving the Dodgers with just Carl Crawford in left and Puig in right. So Mattingly has every reason to feel a bit concerned about Kemp.
"A little bit, just because of what we've been through," he said. "But I don't know how much good it's going to do me to be all nervous and worried about it. It's not going to help any. I feel like we’re being cautious. I feel like he’s going to be ready to go."
If nothing else, Mattingly can feel content about his pitching. Right-hander Zack Greinke gave up one run in six innings, improving his season ERA to 2.63, and allowed just four hits and no walks. The loss was his first since July 25, leaving him with a 15-4 record.
Greinke and ace Clayton Kershaw are undoubtedly the strength of the Dodgers as they enter the playoffs. Kershaw is expected to win his second Cy Young Award, and Greinke, after starting slowly and missing a month because of a broken clavicle he suffered in a fight with San Diego's Carlos Quentin, went 12-2 over his last 19 starts. In that span, he gave up two earned runs or fewer 16 times.
"He's given us that one-two punch with Clayton," Mattingly said. "He's given us two guys that, when they take the ball, you feel like you're going to win. It's pretty much quality start after quality start."
Greinke was typically low key about his performance, saying, "It’s pretty good. (I'm) executing pitches pretty well. It could be worse, that's for sure."
Given what the Dodgers are enduring now, they don't need worse. They need better -- and fast.