Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Dodgers Ride "Route 66" Through Field of Injured Players

The magic of Yasiel Puig has allowed Dodger fans to forget the massive injury bug that continues to plague the team.  In less than one week we've seen Chris Capuano return to the D.L., starting catcher A.J. Ellis join the 25 day list and now Ted Lilly (neck) and Hanley Ramirez (hamstring re-injury) are potential returns to the injury front.   

(AP Photo)

Additionally word has been received that Carl Crawford’s hamstring injury is something that will take weeks of recovery time and Mark Ellis is playing with a slight groin strain that explains his drop in offensive production and rare defensive laspses the last few weeks.  The Hanley injury is particularly disturbing as he’s only had 20 at bats this season and it looks to be a prolonging setback that could linger for much of the rest of the season.

Tack all that on with news that Scott Elbert, who was looking very good in minor league rehab assignments, blew out his elbow in his last one, requiring Tommy John surgery.   Incredibly there are more injuries and a disabled list full of Kemp, AJ Ellis, Capuano, Billingsley, Elbert, Tolleson, and Beckett tells that story. 

What we have is the most snakebit Dodger team in history with regards to injury and a five game stretch of Yasiel Puig has allowed us to not think about that.  He has played a major role in each Dodger victory, all four of the Dodger wins in which has has participated.  With four home runs and ten RBI in five games, Puig's performance has been matched by few other players in baseball history with such a hot start.  It was noted on the think Blue LA message board (contributor, Kevin Sparkhul), that he has hit the cycle in homers with a one-run, two-run, three-run and grand slam homer.

Puig was given the ultimate respect as Brave manager Freddy Gonzalez elected to intentionally walk him in the 8th inning of a 1 run game rather that allow the rookie to beat him  on two consecutive nights.  It’s hard to imagine another rookie of 5 games of experience getting that kind of treatment.   Such is the impact of Yasiel Puig and it is an impact that is taking notice across the country.

(photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
"Puig is a beast!" was the email message I received from Troy, a close friend living in Louisiana.  The MLB network is actually breaking in to their night time coverage to watch his at bats, something unprecedented with the three year old network for a first year player.  But Puig isn't just a first year player, he's a superstar in the making and until scouts teach their respective pitching staffs to pitch to his weaknesses, we're going to ride "Route 66" forward.   The inevitable will occur though, and it needs to be noted.  Puig will have his rough patches and the league will adjust.  Where Yasiel's fortitude will be tested is when he has to react to failures in the long course of a season.

In last night’s action, Puig deposited a Paul Maholm breaking pitch, (that he hit somewhat off-balance), a full 10 rows deep into the left field pavilion.  This kid is so strong that he’s able to loft balls that he doesn’t hit quite well over the walls in the thick night air at Chavez Ravine.   Imagine what he’ll do in a hitters park such as Chase Field or Coors.  Slowly, with the recent winning binge under Puig, the Dodgers are not quite as  buried in the N.L. West,

When a team is mired so deep in the standings, it's usually best to simply win and ignore where they stand for a while.  Such a tactic is proving useful even if the Dodgers haven't gained much ground on the 1st place D-Backs.  The remainder of the pack is slowly moving back towards the Dodgers, sin ce Monday's action when Puig arrived, the Dodgers have gained three games on San Diego, two on San Francisco, one on Colorado and one on Arizona. Couple that with the fact that they just beat Atlanta twice, the team with the best record in the National League, and are on the verge of that elusive second three game winning streak of the SEASON (their first since the second series of the year against Pittsburgh), maybe this team is on it's way out of the cellar.

Meanwhile we can continue to enjoy the ride on the Puig express as the Braves make adjustments and attempt to figure him out.   Tonight's action promises to be another exciting event as the Dodgers host their first Old Timer's Game in years, which will be live-streamed at losangeles.dodgers.mlb.com at 5:20 pm.  Tonight's Dodgers/Braves action will feature Medlen (2-6, 3.14 ERA) vs. Fife (1-0, 4.50 ERA), starting at 7:10 pm.

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