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Betemit is dropped into a tough spot

Times Staff Writer

Wilson Betemit formed a wisp of a smile and shrugged.

Asked about batting in the No. 8 spot, where the Dodgers third baseman is not likely to see many hittable pitches, Betemit acknowledged the need to make the most of a tricky situation.

“Right now I have the pitcher hitting behind me, and they’re not going to pitch to me,” Betemit said Wednesday before the Dodgers played the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium. “I’m not going to see too many fastballs. I have to be patient at home plate and get a good pitch to hit.”

Hitting eighth hasn’t particularly agreed with Betemit, whose .122 average is the lowest among Dodgers everyday players. He has drawn a team-high 11 walks, but he also has no home runs and a .146 slugging percentage, a drastic downturn for a player who hit 18 homers last season while mostly batting sixth and seventh in the order.

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“It doesn’t matter where he hits in the order, he’s got power,” Manager Grady Little said. “We saw that last year when he joined our club, and that had a lot to do with our success. We’re just trying to get him back to that form where he’s a consistent contributor again.”

The switch-hitting Betemit was benched Wednesday in favor of Ramon Martinez because the Dodgers were facing left-hander Noah Lowry. Betemit has no hits in 10 at-bats batting right-handed this season, but Little said Betemit didn’t necessarily need to have success hitting left-handed before being given the opportunity to bat from the other side.

“All I know right now is that the kid is struggling to get some base hits for us,” Little said. “I know he’s contributing defensively, he’s contributing with some base on balls and some sacrifice flies, but eventually we’re going to need a little bit more regardless of where he’s hitting in the lineup.”

And how does Little define “eventually”?

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“After today and before the end of time,” he said.

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Outfielder Jason Repko resurfaced in the clubhouse without the knee brace he had been wearing since undergoing surgery last month for a torn hamstring. He also moved around for a few moments without the assistance of crutches, though he is still under doctor’s orders to use one to help him maneuver tricky obstacles such as stairs.

Repko has returned to Southern California from his home state of Washington to begin rehabilitation exercises next week at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic. He said he won’t have a timetable for a return from the injury he suffered late in spring training until he meets with a physical therapist.

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“If it ends up taking five months and the season’s over, then that’s what has to happen,” Repko said. “But I just have to get myself to 100% and, realistically, ready for next year.”

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Reliever Hong Chih-Kuo’s simulated game was pushed back to today after he developed a blister on the middle and index fingers on his throwing hand following his last simulated game....Outfielder Matt Kemp, whose rehabilitation assignment was curtailed last week when he experienced discomfort in his right shoulder, was scheduled to return to triple-A Las Vegas and play tonight for the 51s....Starting Wednesday, Dodgers broadcasts on 980 AM will no longer be delayed because of a policy change instituted by new CBS Radio President Dan Mason.

ben.bolch@latimes.com

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