LOS ANGELES -- Matt Kemp is the odd man out in the Dodgers outfielder carousel in the series finale against the Phillies on Thursday night at Dodger Stadium.
Sorting out the outfield situation has been increasingly difficult for manager Don Mattingly, who has mixed and matched on most days since Kemp's activation from the disabled list on April 4. Kemp is 6-for-15 (.400/.400/.400, all singles) against Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick, but isn't starting.
"This was not an easy one. Every day it's really a little bit of a problem for the most part," Mattingly said. "This was not easy, because Matt matched up well. So did Yasiel, all the guys really I thought were pretty good. I'm just trying to do the best I can with it."
Yasiel Puig is 5-for-6 (.833) with a triple and a double against Kendrick, and Andre Ethier is 6-for-22 (.273/.360/.636) with two home runs, two doubles and three walks, though just 1-for-9 in the last two seasons. Carl Crawford is 1-for-3 (.333) with a single against Kendrick, but has also not started in two of the last three games.
"I'm trying to do the best for all our guys. I'm trying to do the best for the team," Mattingly said. "It's not just lefty-righty. You want to put your best club out there both offensively and defensively. I'm trying to stay fairly balanced with everybody right now. I'm trying to give everybody enough at-bats to stay sharp, trying to keep everybody involved."
Friday marks the 18th game since Kemp's return, and the starts have been fairly evenly distributed. Kemp has started 14 games, Puig and Ethier will have 12 each and Crawford 11, with Scott Van Slyke not to be forgotten with five starts. Not all four outfielders were available every day, as Puig was benched for the home opener for showing up late and missed three starts after jamming his thumb, Ethier missed two games while sick and Crawford had a game in Arizona with tightness in his right side.
All four "starters" have appeared in several games they did not start.
"You end up in the game. In this league, you'll get in the game almost every day," Mattingly said. "Even if you don't start, you're still a big part of the game. You're in the mix."
|Dodgers outfield since April 4|
|through Wednesday night; *SVS stats include one start at 1B|
Mattingly said at some point the outfield situation would become clearer, though he wouldn't say when.
"We're talking about four quality guys who have had quality careers. You can't just throw those aside. I assume every time they're not starting that they're not happy about it," he said. "They are going to tell me which way to go, more than anything. It doesn't matter what idea I have. I think it will work itself out."