SAN DIEGO -- The Dodgers send out their post-celebration starting lineup on Friday night against the Padres. The Dodgers have nine games left in the regular season before the playoffs begin, and plan to use the remaining week and a half to give regulars various amounts of rest.
The Dodgers begin play Friday one game behind the Cardinals for the No. 2 seed in the National League, and 2... games behind the Braves for the No. 1 seed. But manager Don Mattingly isn't going to push hard for home field advantage.
"We feel like we can win anywhere. We feel like we can win on the road. But we want to be healthy," Mattingly said. "I also want to be at home. But do I want home field advantage and not have Adrian or Hanley in the lineup? No.
"Where is the tipping point? Is home field advantage more important than having Hanley? I'll say no to that right now. Is it more important than having Adrian? No."
Hanley Ramirez is dealing with an irritated nerve in his back, and Adrian Gonzalez has a minor cramp in his quad. Mattingly said of all the regulars Ramirez would get the most rest, and estimated he would play three or four remaining regular season games, and likely none on back-to-back days.
"We just saw Hanley have six days off, come back and have unbelievable timing. Then he had another day off and comes back again and had unbelievable timing," Mattingly said. "He has shown that him having to play every day right now is not that important."
Ramirez was 5-for-7 with two home runs and three walks in the two games he did play in Arizona. Matt Kemp was 4-for-4 in his first start back on Tuesday in Arizona, and is on the other end of the spectrum. Kemp has had over 100 at-bats in simulated games but just 14 major league plate appearances since July 21.
"We'd like to see Matt play most of these games, but still not at the risk of if he'd say, 'My hammy's a little tight,' then if he needs a day, we'll probably give him a day,". I'd like to see him get more confidence in his leg and his ankle and get more at-bats."
Andre Ethier, dealing with a sore ankle, returned to taking batting practice on the field on Friday and is no longer in a walking boot. Mattingly said he'd try to get Ethier as many at-bats as possible as well, "but not at the price of not being able to run all of a sudden."
"The priority is I want to try to get these guys as healthy as they can, but keep them sharp. If they can play and it's no real risk, and that's the best thing, they'll play," Mattingly said. "We're going to be more safe than sorry later."
Drew's on first
Drew Butera starts at first base tonight, his first major league game at the position. His professional experience at the position consists of two games at Double-A New Britain in 2008. Butera took grounders at the position when the Dodgers were in Arizona, and told Mattingly he played there before in Minnesota. When I told Mattingly that Butera only had two minor league games at the position, he feigned shock.
"He said he'd played it, he lied to me," Mattingly said, smiling. "If we get short tonight, he might have to pitch."
Mattingly joked about how the quad injury is limiting Gonzalez. "He can't really run anyway. I hate to say it like that, but it's not really killing his speed," Mattingly quipped.
Mattingly said he would try to get Jerry Hairston and Michael Young more at-bats in the final nine regular season games, and said he wants to use Young at second base just in case that was needed during the playoffs in an emergency situation.
Similarly, catcher Tim Federowicz will catch Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke once each over their final two starts in an effort to get more familiar with them in case something were to happen to starter A.J. Ellis during the playoffs. So far this season Federowicz has caught Greinke five times and Kershaw twice.
Time: 7:10 p.m.
TV: Prime Ticket