By Steve Dilbeck
6:15 AM PDT, September 16, 2013
Now the Dodgers lick their bruises, foreign things that they are. They buckle up, take some deep breaths and get back at it.
“We’ll right the ship,” catcher A.J. Ellis said. “We know we have to go and take care of business in a tough road trip against division teams. We have to start playing better baseball.”
They open a four-game series in Arizona on Monday. Win two, and the division is theirs. Continue to play like they have in losing eight of their last 11 games, and things could get interesting.
Only a few days ago, the Dodgers seemed poised to clinch the National League West title in a couple of games. Ellis had called it “inevitable.” Then they lost three of four games to the San Francisco Giants at home.
“It’s still inevitable,” outfielder Andre Ethier said. “Why not? Has everyone else lost hope all of a sudden?”
Hardly. The Dodgers still own a 10½ -game lead with 13 games to play. They are still firmly in control, it would just be nice to get this clinching business over with so they can concentrate on getting healthy and maybe pursuing the league’s best record.
“We’ll have a tough Arizona team that will want nothing more than to not allow us to clinch at their place,” Ellis said. “We have to go win two games there and get it done. That’s our mission and that’s what we’ll try to do. We’ll start [Monday].”
It would help if they were at full strength, of course, but that seems unlikely for awhile:
Ethier (sore foot): Probably best not to expect him back for awhile. He remains in a walking boot, but said he’s feeling a little better every day.
“A lot of people get put in a boot for a couple days and then come back to play sports,” Ethier said. “It’d be serious if I had a cast on, but a boot is just to take pressure off the range of motion. I’m down for a little bit.
“I’m doing whatever it takes to get back on the field. It’s what I spent all day yesterday, all day today doing. If I could speed it up, I’d do it.
Hanley Ramirez (back): The Dodgers miss him more than any other player and are hopeful he’ll return during the Arizona series.
“I feel better,” Ramirez said. “But still day to day.”
Yasiel Puig (hip): Mattingly insists the outfielder could be out anywhere from one day to three weeks. Puig pinch-hit Sunday.
Mattingly said he learned before Sunday’s game that Puig was available to pinch-hit, which Puig did to end the game.
“He said he couldn’t play defense, he could pitch-hit,” Mattingly said.
Puig said he was uncertain when he could return.
Carl Crawford (back): Said he has sharp pain in his lower back. His return is uncertain.
"I also had it right before the break," Crawford said. "I rested it then and took some medicine, so I’m just trying the same thing now and hope I get the same results.”
Matt Kemp (hamstring): Oddly, might be their healthiest outfielder. Scheduled to join the team in Phoenix and could be activated Monday.
“We’re just trying to get guys back and healthy, and get the right people in the right places,” Ellis said. “And we’ll try to get back to business.”
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