The list of injured and ailing Dodgers remains a long one less than three weeks before the team’s likely playoff opener.
On Sunday, infielders Justin Turner and Adrian Gonzalez became the ninth and 10th everyday players to sit out at least one game because of injury in the last two weeks, with Turner sitting out because of a sore left knee and Gonzalez resting a stiff back.
“This time of year, I think you always have it,” Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said of the niggling injuries. “It’s just how severe [the injury] is.”
Gonzalez, who leads the Dodgers in most major offensive categories, could be back Monday but Turner, who took himself out of Saturday’s game when the discomfort in his knee increased, is expected to be sidelined several days — which has the Dodgers considering second baseman Chase Utley as an option at third until Turner returns.
“Chase sounds like he’s willing to do it, so he’ll give his best effort,” Mattingly said.
Despite the bad news on Turner, the Dodgers are actually getting healthier. Left fielder Carl Crawford (hamstring), catcher Yasmani Grandal (shoulder) and first baseman Scott Van Slyke (hand) all started Sunday’s 4-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates after missing time because of injury last week.
Crawford, starting for the first time in eight days, led off the game with a triple, while Van Slyke, playing for the first time in four days after being sidelined because of a cyst on his right wrist, hit his second home run since June 26.
And while Howie Kendrick and Jimmy Rollins didn’t start, both were able to pinch-hit. Kendrick was out six weeks because of a hamstring strain before playing his first game in six weeks Saturday while Rollins’ two pinch-hit appearances over the weekend ended a 13-day absence.
The next player to return could be valuable utility player Enrique Hernandez, who is batting .308 in 71 games. Mattingly said Hernandez, who is already running at full speed, will travel to the Dodgers’ training complex in Arizona on Tuesday to complete his rehab.
Infielder Jose Peraza and outfielder Yasiel Puig are also expected to report to Arizona this week. Puig may be the furthest from returning with the Dodgers medical staff saying he is able to run at just 65% effort. He hasn’t played since Aug. 27.
With the Dodgers nearing the end of a long regular season, Mattingly said several of the injured players would have been due a break now anyway. But that doesn’t mean he’s happy to see them sitting on the bench.
“You don’t want guys to be hurt, obviously. You want them to be able to play,” he said. “The fact that they get a day off or two and then it pops back, that can be a good thing.
“But right now you’re trying to put wins on the board without looking ahead.”
The Dodgers entered Sunday a game better than the New York Mets, their likely opponents in the division series. And that’s significant since the team with the best record will have home-field advantage in the playoffs.
The Dodgers are 50-24 at Dodger Stadium, tied with the St. Louis Cardinals for the best home record in the majors. On the road they’re four games under .500 with the worst record of the National League’s probable playoff teams.
But outfielder Andre Ethier echoed his manager’s refusal to look past the team’s final 14 regular-season games.
“You don’t want to get complacent, but when you look too far ahead you lose sight of the little things,” he said. “We can’t look at the playoffs or where we’re going to be. That will take care of itself.”