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Dodgers' rotation comes around to full strength, may be turning point

Los Angeles DodgersSportsMajor League BaseballBaseballDon MattinglyNew York MetsChris Withrow
Dodgers' rotation returns to full strength as Hyun-Jin Ryu comes back and beats Mets, 4-3

More than seven weeks into its season, the Dodgers' rotation was finally at full strength.

But it had to endure a brief scare first.

Before Hyun-Jin Ryu returned from the disabled list Wednesday in a 4-3 victory over the New York Mets, utilityman Justin Turner hit a ball in batting practice that struck Clayton Kershaw in the right leg.

Kershaw was fine.

The improved status of the rotation, coupled with the second victory in as many days at Citi Field, prompted some Dodgers to say this would be the turning point of their season. Never mind their numerous false starts earlier in the year or that they beat up on the downtrodden Mets, who are the worst team in the National League East.

Over six innings, Ryu limited the Mets to two runs, both of which came on a sixth-inning home run by Eric Campbell.

Zack Greinke will start Thursday in the series finale against the Mets. Kershaw, Dan Haren and Josh Beckett will pitch in the upcoming series in Philadelphia.

"You expect them to keep you in the game pretty much every day," Manager Don Mattingly said.

Hanley Ramirez smiled and tapped on the side of his locker.

"Knock on wood," Ramirez said. "We just have to stay on the field."

But as the rotation stabilized, the other parts of the team remained in various states of fluidity.

Juan Uribe was placed on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring, meaning Turner and Chone Figgins will split playing time at third base over the next two weeks.

The Dodgers replaced Uribe on their active roster with Erisbel Arruebarrena, a slick-fielding but light-hitting Cuban shortstop they signed this spring to a five-year, $25-million contract.

A childhood friend of Yasiel Puig, Arruebarrena was batting .208 for double-A Chattanooga. His entire professional baseball experience consists of the 25 games he played for this season in the Southern League.

While admitting Arruebarrena's offense was "a work in progress," Mattingly explained the Dodgers called him up because they want to occasionally rest Ramirez.

"Other than Hanley, we haven't had a true shortstop," Mattingly said. "We've got to be able to give Hanley a day here and there. We're going to get more out of him."

Arruebarrena, 24, said he was surprised to be called up as soon as he was.

"A dream come true," he said in Spanish.

Ramirez has shown limited range at shortstop, but Mattingly said the Dodgers have no plans of moving him to third base and starting Arruebarrena at shortstop.

"We've always talked about not moving Hanley back and forth," Mattingly said.

Asked of Ramirez's defensive capabilities, Mattingly replied, "I mean, what do you want me to say, really, on that? Hanley works every day. I don't feel I'm getting a lack of effort in any way, shape or form with Hanley. He is what he is. I think we knew at the beginning of the season. I can't fault Hanley in any way for the effort and his work."

Ryu's return required the Dodgers to make another roster move and they optioned Chris Withrow to triple-A Albuquerque.

Withrow was only one of two players who could be sent to the minor leagues without clearing waivers. The other was closer Kenley Jansen.

"He has options and we're in a little bit of a box," Mattingly said.

Even though he was pitching in relief, Withrow was tied with Paul Maholm for the team lead in walks with 18.

However, Mattingly said the decision "wasn't an easy one. He's a guy we've put in some high-leverage situations, probably higher than you'd want for a young guy. We know his stuff plays to just about every hitter."

With Withrow unavailable, the Dodgers called on Brandon League to protect their 3-2 lead and pitch the seventh inning. This marked the first game in which League entered a game with the Dodgers leading by fewer than five runs.

League didn't allow a run, extending his scoreless streak to 211/3 innings over 14 appearances.

Brian Wilson pitched the eighth inning and Jansen the ninth.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Los Angeles DodgersSportsMajor League BaseballBaseballDon MattinglyNew York MetsChris Withrow
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