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Roberts Goes on the Disabled List

Times Staff Writer

As bad as the Dodgers have been offensively, at least they could count on consistent center fielder Dave Roberts.

But they don’t have that luxury at the moment, as the speedy leadoff batter went on the 15-day disabled list Saturday because of a severely strained right hamstring.

“That’s very unfortunate,” right fielder Shawn Green said. “He’s the catalyst of our offense, and even though it’s a sluggish offense, he’s done his job. It’s obviously a big loss.”

The Dodgers gained another pitcher with Roberts’ departure from the 25-man roster, activating reliever Paul Shuey, who had been sidelined since April 25 because of a sprained right knee. Shuey provides another power arm for the major leagues’ top bullpen, but the loss of Roberts figures to have a bigger impact on one of the majors’ least productive offenses.

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“I’d like to say I’ve been going out there and trying to play the same, but the truth is I really haven’t,” said Roberts, who has repeatedly aggravated the injury he suffered April 25.

“I’m reluctant to bunt, I’m reluctant to steal a base, because I know I could blow it out if I’m not careful. This last month, I’ve been in and out of the lineup, and it’s getting very frustrating.

“I can’t run, and I can’t cover the ground in the outfield I need to. It’s best to just take some time off to get it right. We need to nip this in the bud now, or it could get worse.”

Roberts has played in 34 games, batting .281 with a home run and seven runs batted in.

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Beginning play Saturday, the left-handed batter was ninth among National League leadoff hitters with a .356 on-base percentage, tied with Green for the team lead in runs (21) and tied atop the majors with 18 stolen bases.

The Dodgers were last in the NL with 154 runs, fewer than every team in the majors except the Detroit Tigers. They also were tied with Detroit for the fewest home runs (26), but decided to carry 12 pitchers instead of adding another position player with Roberts out. The Dodgers decided no one in their farm system could provide a boost offensively.

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Although outfielder-infielder Mike Kinkade would prefer to be an everyday player, he’s thriving off the bench.

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Tied for second in the majors with six pinch-hits, Kinkade has delivered as Manager Jim Tracy expected.

“We have a lot of confidence when we look down that bench, and he’s a big part of the reason,” Tracy said.

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Batting instructor Jack Clark returned home before the game because of flu, a team spokesman said. Clark, severely injured in a March 30 motorcycle accident, was cleared Friday to begin traveling with the club.... Infielder-outfielder Daryle Ward, not available Friday because of soreness and swelling in his right hand, said he would be available to pinch-hit after taking batting practice.... The Dodgers plan to option first baseman Larry Barnes to triple-A Las Vegas today and recall utilityman Jason Romano.

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