Second baseman Brian Dozier, the Dodgers’ primary acquisition at the July 31 trade deadline, said Saturday he has been playing through a knee injury for most of the season.
Dozier is batting .191 for the Dodgers, and he has three hits in his last 37 at-bats. He hit a home run in each of his first two games with the Dodgers, but he has hit two home runs in the 31 games since then.
“It’s been a struggle,” Dozier said. “I’ve had a knee issue since the beginning of the year.”
In April, as a member of the Minnesota Twins, Dozier sustained a bone bruise on his right knee. The Twins reported then that an MRI examination had ruled out structural damage. The soreness has remained, Dozier said, and the inability to swing freely has compromised his swing.
“If one side of your leg is not working, find a way to use your other side,” he said. “That’s just my mentality.”
Dozier said he believes he is healthy enough to play. He said neither the Twins nor the Dodgers had suggested a stint on the 10-day disabled list, and he said he would not have taken either team up on the suggestion.
“That’s not me,” he said. “I’ve never been on the DL. I hope to not ever be. My mentality has always been, you can still be productive if you’re not 100%. I’m still trying to find ways to be productive.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he is aware of the condition but has not been advised by the team’s medical staff that Dozier should not play.
Roberts said Dozier is working diligently on mechanical fixes to his swing and said he expects Dozier to be in the starting lineup Sunday.
Yasiel Puig hit a 463-foot home run here on Friday. He had a single too, and he drove in half the Dodgers’ runs.
Puig is batting .467 in 30 at-bats at Coors Field this season. He has a 1.262 OPS (on-base-plus-slugging percentage) in 14 career plate appearances against Saturday’s opposing starter, Colorado’s Kyle Freeland.
But Freeland throws left-handed, so Puig was not in the Dodgers’ starting lineup on Saturday.
Puig is batting .208 off left-handers this year. He hit .183 off them last year.
The Dodgers’ starting outfielders Saturday were Chris Taylor, Enrique Hernandez and Matt Kemp. The Rockies took two extra bases off Kemp, who played right field, that they might not have against the strong-armed Puig.
At what point would Roberts and the Dodgers organization ride the hot hand and let Puig play?
“When you don’t have the depth that we have — and I would argue that 29 other teams don’t have it — there is the argument to ride the hot hand,” Roberts said.
“But, over the course of a long and big sample size, each game and each pitcher is different. There’s value in lumping it together on the recency. But there is also, I think, an even stronger case to be made on the larger sample size. Right now, our answer, my answer, is easy, when you have guys that are a better option, to be frank.”
Puig is not the only player whose role has been reduced.
Kemp, like Puig, has been platooned. Ross Stripling and Kenta Maeda have been removed from the starting rotation to fortify the bullpen.
Kemp and Stripling made the All-Star team this year.
“There’s an overall sacrifice that is needed for us to move on, to win a championship. To each one of these guy’s credit, they’re buying in,” Roberts said. “I know it’s not easy. I appreciate it. I know their teammates appreciate it.