Dodgers say it’s too early to panic

The Dodgers played sub-.500 ball through the first 21 games of the season, their pitching and hitting were inconsistent, and the club just wrapped up a dreary trip.

Not only this year, mind you — that also was the Dodgers’ status in late April 2008 in Joe Torre’s first year as the team’s manager, a year the Dodgers went on to win the first of two consecutive National League West titles.

There’s plenty about the Dodgers with which to find fault so far this season, and General Manager Ned Colletti did just that this week as the team ended its 2-7 trip, then returned to Los Angeles to open a 10-game homestand.

But as the 2008 season demonstrated, there’s still a lot of time for the Dodgers to regroup, Torre and some of his players said before Thursday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

“My goal is to get to .500 and then we work from there,” Torre said. “It’s far too early to think the sky is falling. I don’t think anybody’s in the panic mode by any stretch of the imagination.”

Still, veteran third baseman Casey Blake said that although “the mood is OK” in the clubhouse and that “everyone is working hard here,” he thought the Dodgers’ attitude was due for an adjustment.

He said “I feel like there’s been some guys just kind of walking around; I don’t know whether it’s hanging their heads or feeling sorry for themselves. And I’m to blame for this too. That’s not a way to go about your business.

“We’ve got to know it’s going to come back around,” Blake said. “It’s early and we just have to maintain this confidence that we’re going to be there at the end. When you go through times like this, you’ve got to be aggressive.”

Saturday starter

The surprising story of right-handed pitcher Carlos Monasterios continued as Torre tapped the 24-year-old Venezuelan to start Saturday night against the Pirates instead of using knuckleballer Charlie Haeger on three days’ rest.

Monasterios hadn’t pitched above single-A ball before this year, but in 10 2/3 innings of work this season he has a 1.69 earned-run average and he earned his first big league victory in the Dodgers’ 4-3 win over the Washington Nationals last Saturday.

Haeger, meanwhile, has struggled and is 0-3 with a 7.45 ERA. Asked if Monasterios’ selection meant Haeger no longer was the Dodgers’ fifth starter, Torre replied, “It means I’ll let you know when that time comes.”

Torre also said he told Monasterios, “ ‘just pitch and go as hard as you can, and then we’ll come get you.’ If he runs counts up, we may have to go get him early.”

Injury update

Shortstop Rafael Furcal had a platelet-rich plasma injection Thursday to help him recover from a sore left hamstring, but there were no plans as yet to put him on the disabled list, Torre said.

“He’s probably not going to be available for the next couple of days; hopefully, that’s all,” Torre said.

Slugger Manny Ramirez, on the disabled list because of a calf strain, worked out with the team before Thursday’s game. Asked about the injury, Ramirez replied: “Don’t worry about it.”

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