One thing we know on Tuesday is that the Dodgers will place utility man Jerry Hairston on the disabled list with a strained left groin. The only question is who will be promoted from the minors to replace him.
Based on various beat reports from Monday, Hairston tried to test his groin during pregame workouts but was unable to complete them. Hairston aggravated the injury on Saturday night in San Francisco, but appeared as a pinch hitter on Sunday. After waiting a whopping 10 days to place second baseman Mark Ellis on the disabled list, the relative speed of the Hairston transaction is nearing Micro Machines level.
Hairston is hitting .255/.304/.353 in 20 games, though in his last six games has hit .467 (7-for-15) with a home run, a double, and two walks.
Given that Skip Schumaker is pressed into more second base duty with Ellis out, without Hairston the Dodgers won't have another outfielder on the active roster aside from the three starters. Understandably, the person to replace Hairston will need to be able to play the outfield.
"I want more of a guy who can play both corners," Mattingly told reporters on Monday.
Mattingly mentioned four players by name who could come from Triple-A Albuquerque on Tuesday. Two are on the 40-man roster — Alex Castellanos and Elian Herrera — though Castellanos is currently on the disabled list with inflammation in his right forearm and though Castellanos is eligible to be activated, per Isotopes beat writer Chris Jackson he can swing the bat but is still having trouble throwing.
Herrera, 28, is the most versatile of the quartet but is hitting .250/.310/.336 in Triple-A and would bring the number of light-hitting utility men on the bench to fetish levels.
The other two mentioned by Mattingly are not on the 40-man roster - Alfredo Amezaga and Scott Van Slyke - but adding a player to the roster won't be a problem, with both Chad Billingsley (out until 2014) and Shawn Tolleson (out three to five months) on the long-term shelf and able to be transferred to the 60-day disabled list.
Amezaga, 35, is an older, more experienced version of Herrera, with better defense, and can legitimately play both shortstop and center field. He is also light-hitting, though in limited duty is hitting 412/.458/.569 (21-for-51) in 16 games for Triple-A Albuquerque.
The best choice of the bunch is probably Van Slyke, especially if Castellanos is still sidelined. Van Slyke was designated for assignment in December when the Dodgers acquired Skip Schumaker, then cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A. Faced with the sobering reality that at 26 no major league team was willing to take a chance on adding him, for free to their 40-man roster, Van Slyke lost a bunch of weight during the offseason and came to spring training in the literal best shape of his life.
All Van Slyke has done with the Isotopes is hit .393/.496/.738 with 28 RBI in 31 games, and he leads the Pacific Coast League in slugging percentage, OPS, home runs (nine), and runs scored (30). The bulk of the damage done by Van Slyke has been done in hitter-friendly New Mexico, but he is still hitting .326/.404/.558 on the road in the PCL. Calling up Van Slyke would not only be a reward for his hard work but would also give the team someone who can play first base, something needed with Adrian Gonzalez trying to play through a painful muscular strain in his neck.
Then again, maybe Van Slyke doesn't fit the outfield criteria set by Mattingly. Van Slyke, though he has played outfield in the past, has played exclusively first base this season. Van Slyke saw action in 17 major league games during spring training, but he played 44 innings at first base and none in the outfield.
Adding Van Slyke to the 40-man roster would also give the Dodgers the flexibility to send him back down to the minors if needed, as he still has two option years remaining.
The other, unspoken, option is Yasiel Puig, the 22-year-old Cuban sensation hitting .306/.367/.597 with five home runs, four stolen bases, and 15 RBI in 19 games for Double-A Chattanooga.
Calling up Puig as a part-time player would go against what the organization said they wanted, which was for him to play every day and gain baseball experience as he develops in the minors. But desperate times call for desperate measures, and it's hard to be in a more desperate situation than owning the largest payroll in MLB history while sitting in last place.
While I don't expect to see Puig on Tuesday afternoon in the Dodgers clubhouse, I can't say I would be shocked by it, either.