As the Dodgers finish their two-game series with the San Diego Padres on Thursday, I'm sure manager Don Mattingly would like to have a chance to use his closer to try and end the club's two-game losing streak. Kenley Jansen has pitched in three of the last nine games, with only two save opportunities since he assumed the closer position.
Javy Guerra was demoted from his closer role about a week and a half ago, and in each of the last two games has come into the game with the bases loaded. On Wednesday, Guerra entered the game in the fifth inning, the first time in his career he has pitched prior to the seventh inning.
"I definitely had a different routine. I've been trying to figure out the right way go about mentally preparing. It's different, but I like it," Guerra said. "From the fourth inning on, I'm pretty in tune with the game and know what's going on. I'm trying to figure out the situation and just be ready."
"What we're trying to do is get his confidence built back up," Mattingly said. "When we first started this process, we tried to get him in game where the game wasn't totally on the line every time he had his hands on the ball."
Guerra in his new routine has noticed a change in his not only his approach but his thought process, during the game.
"It's kind of like managing the game mentally prior to it happening. You never guess right though," Guerra said. "Yesterday I wouldn't have guessed [Will] Venable would have been in there right away, but he came in."
In five games pitched since his demotion, Guerra has pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings, though he has walked three with just one strikeout during that span. Guerra has allowed two of his six inherited runners to score, both in the last two days.
"He's so versatile. We can use him late. He's a guy, as someone who started in the past, who has multiple pitches. He can do a lot of things. He's an important guy for us," Mattingly said. "We're going to need Javy to do his thing, and to me he's on that path. He'll get the ball later in the game as this thing goes on."
The Dodgers lineup card featured a surprise in the fifth spot tonight, as Adam Kennedy is hitting behind cleanup man Andre Ethier, despite hitting just .179/.292/.231 on the season. Manager Don Mattingly cited the fact that Kennedy is 5-for-13 with a walk against Padres starter Edinson Volquez as the reason for Kennedy hitting fifth.
"Really more than anything he's had success against Volquez. James was my other alternative there, and he hasn't really had any," Mattingly said.
Loney is 0-for-6 off Volquez, with two walks, with both walks coming in five plate appearances this season. Kennedy has faced Volquez just once this year, a pop out to shortstop, with 13 of his 14 career plate appearances off Volquez coming from 2005-2010.
"I know if I'm pitching, I remember the guy who got hits off me." Mattingly said. "If I'm facing Andre, even though I know Andre's the guy, I have to think about it a little bit because the guy has had success behind him. That's really my only motivation."
Kennedy is the fifth different Dodger to bat fifth over the last six games, joining Bobby Abreu, Loney, A.J. Ellis (twice), and Jerry Sands.
- Matt Kemp did stretching exercises with trainer Sue Falsone on the field earlier Wednesday, and took part in throwing drills as well. He has not yet hit in the cage during batting practice since getting placed on the disabled list on Monday.
- Jerry Hairston Jr. ran Wednesday and took ground balls Thursday, and "is doing more and more," per Mattingly, Hairston remains on track to return from the disabled list sometime close to next Tuesday, when he is eligible to be activated.
Matt Guerrier reported no pain or problems stemming from his bullpen session on Wednesday, which was his first bullpen session with breaking balls since getting placed on the disabled list on April 24.
"He'll definitely have to go out on rehab at some point. We're not there yet, but we're getting closer," Mattingly said. "We're going to keep building him up, and as long as he doesn't have any pain we're going to just keep going forward."
- Juan Rivera will be reevaluated late next week, but the club is more optimistic about his return from a ruptured left hamstring tendon. "He's really progressing well, and is on a best case scenario for us right now," Mattingly said.
Game Time: 7:05 p.m.
TV: Prime Ticket