While calling on the Dodgers to improve their plate discipline and defense, General Manager Ned Colletti said he was generally satisfied with how the team has looked.
Speaking Monday before the Dodgers' 6-5 victory over Miami, Colletti said, "Once we get rolling, I think we'll be fine."
The Dodgers remain 41/2 games behind the first-place San Francisco Giants in the National League West, but Colletti was confident Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez would start hitting and driving in runs again.
Ramirez started the day batting .257 and was hitless in three of the first four games of the recently completed series against the Giants. Gonzalez was three for his last 36 before the Marlins series.
"I think they both have put extra pressure on themselves to make something happen," Colletti said. "With the top two guys getting on base a lot and doing a lot of good things, it falls to them," Colletti said. "That's what their careers have been about. They're run producers."
Colletti said he would still like to sign Ramirez to a contract extension. Ramirez is in the final year of a six-year, $70-million contract.
"He's still somebody we'd love to have back," Colletti said.
Colletti said he has made it a point to share that sentiment with Ramirez's agent, Adam Katz.
Colletti's critique about the team's plate discipline applied to not only Ramirez and Gonzalez, but most of the lineup.
"Sometimes that goes hand in hand with struggling because everybody tries to do too much and they try to do it too quickly inside an at-bat," Colletti said. "Sometimes, patience inside an at-bat can pay dividends. We see it all the time. When you see another team get a clutch it, most of the time it's been through a real good thought process that's had a dash of patience thrown in there."
Colletti said he also wanted to see the team tighten up its defense. The Dodgers committed 35 errors through Sunday, more than any team in the NL.
Colletti shot down the idea that the shaky defense was a result of the Dodgers fielding an old team.
"I don't think we really have an old team," he said.
Colletti said the defensive shortcomings were in part to blame for the heavy workload of the bullpen, which has been erratic.
"You could have an effective start going on, there's an error, all of a sudden, you have 15 to 20 more pitches," Colletti said.
That dynamic could force Manager Don Mattingly to use his relievers earlier than he wants, Colletti said.
Colletti said he was encouraged by Matt Kemp's spectacular play in center field Sunday in the Dodgers' loss to the Giants.
"Matt made some great plays yesterday," Colletti said. "He's starting to hit better. He's starting to get some confidence back and starting to become the player we know he can be."
Colletti is also delighted with the progress made by Yasiel Puig and Dee Gordon.
In the final months of last season, opposing teams looked as if they had figured out how to pitch to Puig — that is, throw him fastballs inside and breaking balls outside.
Asked about how quickly Puig has adjusted, Colletti said, "He's slowing the game down from time to time without losing the passion that he brings or the talent that he has. I'm never trying to cool him off. He's a smart player. He understands it."
As for Gordon, Colletti recalled speaking to him in the lobby of the Dodgers' St. Louis hotel the morning after the team was eliminated from the playoffs.
"I told him my thought was that his best chance to make this club was with versatility and/or at second base," Colletti said. "I can't tell you he was really enthused about that, but he took it to heart."
Colletti said he admired not only how Gordon played winter ball in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, but also how he continues to work. Colletti said he often sees Gordon working on his bunting with veteran utilityman Chone Figgins early in the afternoon.
Colletti said he has no intention of moving Gordon back to shortstop in the future.
That could result in a change of position for Alex Guerrero, the Cuban infielder the Dodgers signed to a four-year, $28-million deal.
Playing second base in triple-A Albuquerque, Guerrero is batting .337.
"The defense is still something that needs to get better ... but right now, the offense has been pretty close to what we would need, " Colletti said.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times