Dodgers manager Don Mattingly: 'We've got a chance'
Injuries hindered Don Mattingly during his entire baseball career.
During his Yankees playing days, it was a bad back that kept him from achieving his full potential.
Now as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, it's a strained groin, Tommy John surgery, hamstring strains, shoulder strains, torn ligaments, neck sprains, herniated discs.
Yeah, the Dodgers have a lot of injuries.
So as Mattingly takes his expensive, underperforming and wounded squad to Yankee Stadium for a two-game set starting Tuesday, his message is this: there's still a lot of baseball to play.
"We talk just tread water," Mattingly said during an interview on ESPN Radio on Monday afternoon.
The Dodgers, with a payroll over $200 million, currently have 10 players on the disabled list, highlighted by big names such as Josh Beckett, Chad Billingsley, Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp. But Mattingly still sees hope for the 29-39 Dodgers, in last place in the NL West. That hope revolves around pitching.
"We got a big three pitching wise," Mattingly said. "[Clayton] Kershaw's unbelievable, Zack Greinke's getting back into form and the lefty, Hyun-Jin Ryu.
"We've got a big three. If we can get [Chris] Capuano, [Stephen] Fife, [Ted] Lilly -
another guy to step up for us, we've got a chance to rattle off some games with this pitching."
Ryu faces Phil Hughes in the series opener. The import from Korea is 6-2 with a 2.85 ERA and has struck out 75 in 85 1/3 innings. The Dodgers haven't yet listed a starter for Wednesday. The Yankees will pitch Hiroki Kuroda.
Speaking of foreign imports, Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig has been a revelation for the Dodgers since getting called up two weeks ago to replace the ailing Kemp. Puig is batting .479 (23-for-48) with four home runs in 13 games and has made some sparkling defensive plays. Mattingly referenced not one but three All-Star players when describing Puig's talent.
"This kid can really play," he said. "He's fun to watch, he plays with a flair, he plays hard and he's got a big tool package. This guy's tooled up. Big arm, raw speed, raw power, hits for average and is infectious the way he plays.
"Kind of a Bo Jackson body, but like Vlad Guerrero, where everything he swings at he hits. A little bit like [Robinson] Cano where you throw it in the strike zone or anywhere near it and he'll do damage."
Mattingly and the Dodgers just hope it's not too late for that damage to matter.