Dodgers' James Loney would rather not discuss hitting problems

Politics and religion might be agreeable topics by comparison.

James Loney has joked with Dodgers hitting instructor Jeff Pentland that he would love it if they could discuss anything besides Loney's swing.

There's been a lot to talk about lately.

The first baseman is batting .170 after going 0 for 4 with a strikeout Friday night in the Dodgers' 11-2 loss to St. Louis at Dodger Stadium, continuing a slide that started at the All-Star break last season.

Dodgers-Cardinals box score

On the plus side, Loney registered his first multi-hit game of the season the previous night, getting a pair of singles against the Cardinals. He still had only one home run and five runs batted in for the season.

"The two hits help," Pentland said. "Obviously, we'll take anything he gets at this point and build on it."

Loney said he had been trying too hard to break out of his slump. That resulted in getting his body out of whack and being late on pitches.

"It's actually pretty simple stuff," Pentland said of Loney's timing issues. "It's just being on time and staying above the ball."

Dodgers continue their fast fade in 11-2 loss to Cardinals

Loney called his two-hit performance "a good start" and said his confidence remained high despite not having hit above .234 in any month since last July.

"I almost haven't been able to sleep the last few days because I've really felt good just to be here and ready to hit," said Loney, who hit .211 after the All-Star break last season. "I want to hit."

Just not talk about hitting.

"I think he's seen enough of me," Pentland said.

Doubts creep in

In the wake of Hiroki Kuroda's rare off pitching performance Thursday, Manager Don Mattingly acknowledged having some second thoughts about the way he used the 36-year-old right-hander in his previous start.

Mattingly said he questioned whether he should have let Kuroda attempt to complete his first shutout since 2008 on Saturday against San Diego. Kuroda held the Padres scoreless for 82/3 innings before being pulled after giving up consecutive hits.

In his next start, Thursday against St. Louis, Kuroda gave up 10 hits and six runs — five earned — in five innings.

Though Kuroda maintained afterward that pitching deep into his previous start had no bearing on his struggles against the Cardinals, Mattingly said he preferred to give Kuroda extra rest whenever possible because he had pitched every six days during his 11-year career in the Japanese Central League.

"He seems to be sharper any time you can get him extra rest," Mattingly said.


Vicente Padilla, sidelined by pain in his surgically repaired right arm, completed his second bullpen session in two days and could embark on a rehabilitation assignment shortly. … Mattingly said outfielder Jay Gibbons, who started the season at triple-A Albuquerque because of vision problems, is "seeing better" after a specialist made a small adjustment in his contact lenses. Gibbons is about halfway through the 20-day period he can remain in the minor leagues, but Mattingly said he could be recalled before the period ends. … Dodgers outfielder Marcus Thames was out of the starting lineup again Friday night because of a quadriceps issue that continues to bother him. He did pinch-hit in the fifth inning, popping out to first.

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