Matt Kemp, Jerry Hairston Jr. Hamstring Issues Progressing

Despite a left hamstring strain, Matt Kemp has been cleared to play tonight.

As the Dodgers prepare to take on the Giants in the second game of their three-game series at Dodger Stadium, the focus is on a pair of left hamstrings, and in both cases the Dodgers received good news on Tuesday.

Matt Kemp was 3-for-3 with a walk on Monday, but rain gingerly both on the bases and in the field. But after going through a series of exercises before the game with trainer Sue Falsone, Kemp was cleared to play. Manager Don Mattingly has been worried about his center fielder.

"I just want to keep making sure. I probably asked Sue 10 times, 'He's good to go, right?'," Mattingly said.

Mattingly also knows his lineup is quite a bit worse without Kemp in it, and would ultimately like to avoid his center fielder missing an extended period of time.

"The DL screws you up," Mattingly said. "You have two weeks off without being able to play, then it doesn't mean you'll come back right where you left off. That's the problem for me. Is it going to take a week or 10 days to try and catch up? It becomes a mystery."

Jerry Hairston Jr., who strained his left hamstring Sunday at Wrigley Field while running out a single, will likely avoid the disabled list.

"I'm feeling a little bit better today," Hairston said. "We want to make sure we're cautious with it. We'll see how I feel in the next couple of days."

Mattingly didn't rule out the possibility of Hairston being available to pinch hit tonight, but a more likely scenario is that the utility man will be out for a few days. The Dodgers are off on Thursday. Hairston has prided himself in playing through pain, including playing on a broken leg while with the San Diego Padres, but he recognizes the importance of making sure his hamstring is fully healed before trying to come back.

"Hamstrings are probably the toughest nagging injuries you can have. It's not like a finger or wrist or something else," Hairston said. "It's a tricky thing. You have to make sure that when you come back you have to be right."

Loney Struggling

James Loney went 0-for-2 on Monday and is now hitting .198/.274/.302 on the season. Mattingly said he has liked Loney's swing for the most part this season, and hopes the first baseman won't fall back into his old habit of chaning his approach on a whim.

"He's been pretty solid with the approach," Mattingly said. "When you start getting beat down and not having success you start tinkering a little bit. We have to try to get him right."

Loney has sat against seven of the 14 left-handed starters the Dodgers have faced, but when both Juan Uribe and Juan Rivera, each right-handed, have been healthy and available Loney has sat against seven of eight left-handed starters. But Mattingly said he might start sitting Loney against some right-handed pitchers too if Loney doesn't turn things around.

"To me it's gotten to the point where it's a production thing. You've got to throw some numbers out there somehow, some way. It's that simple," Mattingly said. "I want to be patient but we have to try to win games too."

The Right Stuff

On a somewhat related note, even with the addition of Bobby Abreu, a left-handed batter, Mattingly said there is still room on the roster for another right-handed power bat.

"We have struggled a little bit offensively against left-handed pitching. I still feel like there's a need for that right-handed bat," Mattingly said.

This was essentially the role carved out for Jerry Sands before he had issues with his swing during spring training. Whether it's Sands, or possibly Scott Van Slyke, or perhaps an outside acquisition, there is still a need for a right-handed bat at Chavez Ravine.

Injured Pitcher Update

Matt Guerrier, currently on the disabled list with elbow tendonitis, threw off flat ground before today's game, and will continue to progress eventually to a rehabilitation stint in the minors before his return.

Rubby De La Rosa threw off flat ground for the first time over the weekend, throwing at 85-90% intensity.

Blake Hawksworth has also started throwing, and has begun the process of building his arm strength back up. There is still no set timetable for his return, but Mattingly has mentioned that it would likely take the equivalent of a full spring training, roughly 45 days, to get Hawksworth ready to rejoin the team.

Blake Retires

Former Dodgers third baseman Casey Blake told Bryce Miller of the Des Moines Register that he is retired from baseball. Mattingly looked back fondly at Blake, whom he managed last year and coached for two and a half years prior to that.

"I love guys like that, he's so polished. He can bunt, he's a good baserunner, he's a good teammate. He played the game right," Mattingly said. "He was always grateful and thankful to be in the big leagues and knew he had to work hard, and never forgot that.

"I could see Casey being a coach. He's one of those guys that would be good for any organization. He could teach any parts of the game. He's played infield and outfield, and he's tried enough stances to know a lot of different ways to hit."

Blake played 374 games at third base for the Dodgers, tied with Pedro Guerrero for the sixth most games at the hot corner since the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles.

Starting Lineups

Giants Dodgers
CF Pagan SS Gordon
2B Theriot 2B Ellis
RF Cabrera CF Kemp
C Posey RF Ethier
LF Pill LF Rivera
3B Arias 1B Loney
1B Belt 3B Uribe
SS Crawford C Ellis
P Vogelsong P Kershaw

Game Time: 7:10 p.m.

TV: KCAL. MLB Network

MLB Gameday

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