He was out of the lineup and then he was in, which was more than Matt Kemp could claim, who remained out for the fifth consecutive game.
But Hanley Ramirez convinced the Dodgers his sore calf was fully healed and a new lineup quickly went out Tuesday that had him back at shortstop.
Not that it didn’t offer a change-up.
Ramirez was placed in the cleanup spot, with Yasiel Puig staying at third and Adrian Gonzalez moved to fifth. It’s the first time Gonzalez has batted anywhere but third or fourth in the lineup since he joined the Dodgers midseason in 2012.
Manager Don Mattingly said he had discussed the move with Gonzalez last week in Philadelphia, so it doesn’t appear to be a one-game switch.
“I think it was an easy move and (Gonzalez) sees the logic in it and thinks it makes us better,” Mattingly said. “And that’s really what we’re trying to do, is put our lineup together the best way possible.”
Not that Gonzalez couldn’t resist teasing Mattingly as he walked by in the pregame clubhouse.
“Apparently you can’t go 0-fer in this world, you get dropped in the lineup,” Gonzalez yelled, laughing. “I’m leading the team in home runs and I’m down to fifth?”
Tuesday’s lineup had left-handed hitters Dee Gordon and Carl Crawford at the top, followed by right-handers Puig and Ramirez, and then left-handers Gonzalez and Andre Ethier.
At the beginning of the season, Puig was batting leadoff, Mattingly saying he had “not proven himself to be an RBI guy yet.” Seems he has now. Despite starting most games (29) in the second spot, he leads the Dodgers with 38 RBIs.
“I think Yasiel has proven that he’s dynamic right there in the middle,” Mattingly said. “Also when you put those guys together, with our lefties, it’s a lot tougher.
“If I was managing on the other side it would be a lot tougher to make decisions with our lineup set up like this. We still have guys we know we’ll pinch-hit for, and at this point I think other teams know we’ll do it. So it puts them in a bind when they use their lefty and how they use him.”
Not currently being getting used is Kemp, who was in left field early Tuesday taking flies as he tries to make the adjustment from center. Mattingly said he will not start him in left until Kemp tells him he’s comfortable there.
But asked if he might give Kemp a spot start back in center in the meantime to keep him sharp, Mattingly said: “Right now we’re happy with the way things are going. So we want to let Matt get comfortable in left, and then we’ll go from there.”
With Ethier now the everyday center fielder, if the Dodgers are headed toward a semi-platoon of Kemp and Crawford in left, Kemp might not start again until Friday, when they next face a left-hander.
Mattingly said he’s confident Kemp – who’s played little the last two seasons after an ankle and two shoulder surgeries – will ultimately return to his All-Star form, though he clearly is not going to put success this season at risk while waiting.
“I’m real confident this guy has a chance to be the way he was before,” he said.
Kemp may wonder why his less than sterling defense in center inspired the move to left, while Ramirez – who’s had just as many struggles at shortstop – is not being moved to third.
“At this point, that’s just not where we’re at,” he said.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times