Don Mattingly, managerial genius.
What a clever guy. He’s deftly come up with a solution to handle dealing with four starting-caliber outfielders.
Use five outfielders!
All that agony about how to shuffle Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig in the lineup has been nudged aside while Mattingly has added Scott Van Slyke to the mix.
At first starting Van Slyke in an all right-handed hitting outfield against left-handers, and sitting Crawford and Ethier, seemed almost a delay tactic. Neither could complain too loudly while both took a seat, and it bought Mattingly some early time to see if one of the four would come up lame.
But Van Slyke has seized his opportunity and now there is no reason to believe Mattingly will shelve the platoon, at least while he’s hitting like this.
Van Slyke is batting .306 but his on-base plus slugging percentage is at a team-high 1.141. In 43 plate appearances, he has seven walks and 11 hits -- and all but three of the hits have been for extra bases (three homers, four doubles, one triple).
Who sits a bat like that?
Van Slyke’s solo home run in the 12th inning Thursday night in Minnesota broke a 2-2 tie in the over five-hour game. He also tripled off the wall and stole a base. He can play all three outfield spots reasonably well and can spell Adrian Gonzalez at first.
Not bad for a guy once waived by the Dodgers and passed on by every single major-league team.
Using five outfielders may not thrill Crawford and Ethier when they sit against left-handers, but somehow alternating five seems a little more palatable. Unless you’re Matt Kemp and upset when you’re out against a right-hander.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times