Luis Cruz back in Dodgers lineup after slump

USA TODAY Sports

Cruz opened his season 0-for-17 with a walk and sacrifice fly.

Luis Cruz is back in the lineup on Wednesday night, for the first time since Saturday, looking to snap his 0-for-17 skid to open the season. If Cruz doesn't get a hit Wednesday night against the Padres, he will likely join a rare group of Dodgers with poor starts.

The standard bearer for the 0-fors is Eugenio Velez, who not only started but ended his 2011 campaign without a hit. At 0-for-37 Velez has the worst season in Dodgers history at the plate, and with it the worst start. Cruz isn't even halfway to Velez, and likely won't get close. But the numbers are getting quite large.

"I think he's fine, but he's just pressing," manager Don Matingly said of Cruz. "Hopefully these couple of days will get him swinging the bat good, and get the momentum going the other way."

Since 1916, there have only been three other Dodgers to open their season with at least 20 at-bats before their first hit. Jose Gonzalez began 1991 in an 0-for-28 slump, then was traded to the Pirates. He was hitless in his first at-bat with Pittsburgh to start 0-for-29, but then picked up a single.

J.D. Drew began the 2005 season, his first as a Dodger, hitless in his first 25 at-bats. Things turned around though quickly for Drew, who hit 286/.412/.520, though his season was cut short in early July.

Rick Auerbach began 1976 with no hits in his first 22 at-bats, and ended up hitting just .128 (6-for-47) on the season. The Dodgers then dumped him on the Big Red Machine (for a guy named Dick Sander), where he helped end the Reds' run of World Series wins with a 7-for-45 (.156) campaign.

Cruz could join the 0-for-20 plus club on Wednesday. Or he could snap the streak. Mattingly, who didn't start Cruz in each of the last two games, said he has considered changes to the bottom of his lineup.

"I'm not messing with those guys in the middle," Mattingly said. "I could mess around three and four, but it just changes who you pitch to. More than anything, I've been thinking about changing Cruzer and those guys."

Notes

  • Chad Billingsley won't be on much of a pitch limit, maybe 100-105 pitches. "He's pretty built up. He's kind of where Kersh was, around 100-105 that first time out. He's thrown as many pitches as just about everybody," said Mattingly.
  • I was a guest on the Dodgers radio pregame show with David Vassegh on AM 570.

Game info

Time: 7:10 p.m. PT

TV: Prime Ticket (check for your channel)

MLB Gameday

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