LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw is scheduled to have a root canal on Monday, another result from getting hit in the face by a line drive off the bat of Andy Parrino of the Athletics on March 20.
However, the dental work, which was planned, is not expected to affect Kershaw's mound schedule. Kershaw takes the ball next on Saturday in Phoenix in the middle game of the Dodgers' weekend series against the Diamondbacks, then gets an extra day off before his next scheduled start, on Friday, April 17 at home against the Rockies.
In between that second and third start for Kershaw, the Dodgers will need a fifth starter for the first time this season on April 14 against the Mariners. Mattingly on Tuesday said the decision for that April 14 starter still hasn't been made. Scott Baker, who starts opening day Thursday for Triple-A Oklahoma City remains an option, after pitching 10 innings in Grapefruit League play for the Yankees this spring.
"I know he was in camp the whole spring," Matingly said. :He's a guy we're going to stretch out."
Another option is simply using several relief pitchers in a bullpen game, which would still give the Dodgers the option of carrying an extra position player or pitcher until April 25, the next time a fifth starter is needed. Either way, Mattingly isn't expecting much out of that April 14 start.
"No matter who we would start it's going to be a load on our bullpen," Mattingly said.
Mattingly said he is in favor of defensive shifts, even though on Monday in the first inning Matt Kemp hit a ball against the shift for an RBI single. The Dodgers have been lining up three infielders to the left of second base during Kemp at-bats, and will continue to do so, when the situation warrants.
"You're playing percentages based on information. Sometimes every once in a while they hit a ball that isn't there," Mattingly explained. "That's when you kick yourself and that's when everybody says the shift doesn't work, but the 20 balls you catch that nobody really notices, nobody says anything about.
"The charts really don't lie, for the most part, but guys do hit it off the end of the bat. That's a part of it, and it's always been a part of it. You're playing percentages, and you're playing the numbers."
About that throw by Yasiel Puig in the ninth inning on Tuesday that came closer than could have been reasonably expected to nailing the runner, Mattingly was in awe.
"His accuracy and the way he unloads the ball is special. You do not see guys do that," Mattingly said. "He can throw from anywhere."