Kemp asked to put his power on hold
The Dodgers were clinging to a one-run lead over the Cleveland Indians on Sunday. They had runners on first and second with none out in the fifth inning, with one of their few power hitters coming up. But, with the chance to deliver a knockout blow, Matt Kemp tried to bunt.
Not on his own. Dodgers Manager Joe Torre said he ordered the bunt, hoping for a bunt single at best and a sacrifice at worst, which would have advanced the runners to second and third and enabled the Dodgers to add a run on a fly ball.
“We were looking for one more run,” Torre said.
Kemp leads the Dodgers in runs batted in, and he was tied for the lead in home runs among the players in Sunday’s lineup. As he batted, four of his last five hits had gone for extra bases.
“When there’s a runner at second base, we don’t worry about power,” Torre said. “We worry about a single. When you have the 3-4-5 guys [coming up after Kemp], you’re trying to stretch the lead a little bit.”
Kemp has four sacrifice bunts in 2,287 professional at-bats. He said it had been “a long time” since he had bunted for a hit.
“I’ve never really bunted,” he said.
He tried once, fouling the bunt off. The Dodgers then removed the bunt sign, and he hit into a double play.
No return to sender
Mark Sweeney taped five baseball cards to the top of his locker. The player pictured on each of the cards is Mike Sweeney, currently with the Oakland Athletics and previously a five-time All-Star for the Kansas City Royals.
Mark Sweeney said he gets Mike Sweeney cards in the mail all the time, from fans asking for autographs. He usually tapes the first one he gets each year to his locker, he said, but he got a bunch all at once this year.
The Sweeneys are not related, although Mark said they are friends and occasional off-season workout partners. He said he would not autograph a Mike Sweeney card and mail it back to a fan, even in fun.
“Never,” Mark Sweeney said, smiling broadly. “That would be embarrassing to him.”
Seasons in the sun
The victory music blaring in the Dodgers’ clubhouse Sunday: “Play That Funky Music,” the 1976 hit single by Wild Cherry. None of the players in Sunday’s starting lineup had been born in 1976.
The Dodgers are paying $11.4 million this season to those nine starters. Juan Pierre accounted for $8 million of that total.
Torre said the Dodgers would wait until after Hiroki Kuroda’s bullpen session Wednesday before deciding whether he would come off the disabled list and start Saturday. If the Dodgers wait to activate him, Chan Ho Park would get another spot start, Torre said. . . . Torre said Nomar Garciaparra plans to resume baseball activities Tuesday, five days after his physical therapist suggested he rest his injured calf for 10 days. “He decided,” Torre said, referring to Garciaparra. “This is something that has been tough to get a grip on. You have to rely on how he feels. The whole thing is his call.” . . . Sweeney, the Dodgers’ pinch-hitting specialist, flied out Sunday. He’s hitless in his last 11 at-bats, with his batting average at .105.