Scott Van Slyke as Adrian Gonzalez insurance

Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

With Gonzalez still dealing with a neck strain, Van Slyke gives the Dodgers someone they can use both in the outfield and first base as needed.

The decision to bring Scott Van Slyke back to the major leagues by the Dodgers has been a few days in the making, but it might not have happened had Adrian Gonzalez not aggravated his neck injury on Wednesday. Gonzalez is back in the starting lineup Friday for the Dodgers against the Marlins, but they are playing it safe with their first baseman.

"Adrian we thought was over his neck thing, but now we're back at square one," said manager Don Mattingly on Friday.

Gonzalez missed two games last weekend in San Francisco with his muscle strain, and was held out of Sunday's starting lineup as well, though he did pinch hit. He aggravated the injury making a diving play for a foul ball in the fourth inning on Wednesday against the Diamondbacks.

Mattingly said Gonzalez didn't do much Friday before the game. He didn't take live batting practice or field ground balls, but did hit in the cage, an effort to "save his bullets" for the game.

Van Slyke played exclusively first base for Triple-A Albuquerque this season, but on Tuesday when the Dodgers needed a reserve from the Isotopes the call went to utility man Elian Herrera instead.

"(Van Slyke) was part of the conversation. The fact that he hadn't played the outfield was a little bit of a struggle for us, because that's kind of where we thought about him playing," Mattingly said. "We knew he needed a few days."

Van Slyke started in right field for Albuquerque on Tuesday and Thursday, and played left field on Wednesday. On Friday, he is back in the major leagues, and back on the 40-man roster. Looking to improve on that 9-for-54 (.167) performance from last season.

"I think his approach has always been good. Just because a guy comes one time and doesn't hit, doesn't mean he can't hit. He's proven he can hit. He won a batting title in Double-A, he's hitting .400 this year," Mattingly said. "I always thought the guy could swing the bat. He's the right mixture of guy that we need.

"He's a guy who has swung the bat really well. It give us someone with a chance to put the ball in the seats. It gives us a guy who has played first and both corners in the outfield. We're looking for more than what we've got so far."

Notes

  • Zack Greinke is expected to throw 75 pitches in his rehab start Friday night with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga. Relief pitcher Scott Elbert is expected to pitch one inning or as many as 25 pitches, whichever comes first.
  • Mark Ellis is recovering slowly from his strained right quad, but still hasn't been able to run full speed yet. He will need to do that to be cleared for a minor league rehab assignment prior to his activation from the disabled list. "He's been able to swing the bat, take ground balls, but just the full speed explosion stuff we haven't got to yet," Mattingly said.
  • Ted Lilly will throw a bullpen session on Saturday, his first since getting placed on the disabled list on May 3 with a strained right rib cage.
  • Stephen Fife, on the disabled list with right shoulder bursitis, threw off flat ground on Friday, his second time throwing since hitting the DL on Apr. 27.
  • Tim Federowicz for the first time took ground balls at first base on Friday, a position he played in college at North Carolina. Mattingly stressed that though he isn't trying to get Federowicz playing time at first base, adding a position could never hurt.

    "We didn't realize that he played there in college. He looks really good over there. It's really nice, if there was a situation with two catchers with one can actually do that," Mattingly said. "Then you're not afraid to put him in a game, or if you pinch hit him you can leave him in the game. You don't worry about your catcher getting hurt and not having anybody that can go out and play. It's nice that Fed can play another position."

Game info

Time: 7:10 p.m.

TV: It depends!

MLB Gameday

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