I throw up my hands in defeat. I literally have no idea any longer. When tonight’s lineup was first announced, it had Chone Figgins batting second, Erisbel Arruebarrena batting eighth, and Dee Gordon, hitting .243/.298/.296 over the last month, at leadoff. Hanley Ramirez & Matt Kemp were nowhere to be found. The mind began to spin in circles. Why isn’t Ramirez just on the disabled list, if he’s going to be out for five days in a row? Is Kemp in prison somewhere? Why is Figgins hitting second, guaranteeing him more plate appearances than Yasiel Puig? Will we ever understand why we’re on this rock?
Los Angeles, CA
Barely an hour later, a new lineup came out. Ramirez is now in at shortstop, Figgins is eighth, and Arruebarrena is on the bench. Gordon is still at leadoff, though that’s not at all unexpected and is a conversation for another day. Kemp is still serving three-to-five somewhere, presumably.
First things first: Ramirez playing should be a good thing, but I’m not convinced it is. Bill Shaikin reports that Ramirez is “100% and cleared,” and that’s all good and fine, but I think you know by now how gunshy I am with pushing injuries on this team, particularly with Ramirez. Just last night, he wasn’t even available to pinch-hit. Now he’s supposedly all good to go? When we find out on Thursday that his calf or Achilles or whatever has been more severely injured, just remember this moment.
And Kemp, well, good lord. This has passed absurd and skyrocketed straight into obscene, hasn’t it? Fans seem to love the idea that Andre Ethier is being “showcased,” but that just makes no sense, really; you don’t blow up Kemp’s season like that just to showcase Ethier, and it’s not like there’s not a ton of data on Ethier anyway. The issue, apparently, is really about differing opinions between Kemp and Don Mattingly about Kemp’s health, although I don’t for a second believe that Mattingly is empowered to do this all on his own without front office agreement. Kemp was at least shagging flies in left field today, though we’re long past “he hasn’t played there in a long time” territory; it’s left field, not catcher. Based on this J.P. Hoornstra quote, Kemp about has just given up on the situation.
I’ve heard suggestions that this is now going to be a platoon between Kemp and Carl Crawford in left field, but I just cannot see it. After Alfredo Simon tonight, the Dodgers face righties Homer Bailey & Gerrit Cole before getting lefty Francisco Liriano on Friday. There’s no way that Kemp can really be sitting until then, and even if that were the plan, the fact that Mattingly won’t even let him pinch-hit is a pretty good indication something else is going on. And that’s what makes it so hard to throw shade on Mattingly, personally: we really just don’t know the truth. The second I start publicly bashing the team, we’ll learn that Kemp handled this really terribly behind the scenes. The moment I kill Kemp for his attitude, we’ll learn that he found out about the move from the clubhouse janitor or something. There’s still a big hole in this story that needs to be filled in. For the moment? Everyone looks bad. The team looks like a sideshow. Again.
Important viewing note, by the way: ESPN is carrying the game, and it reportedly won’t be blacked out in Los Angeles. If you can’t get SNLA, that’s good news. If you can get SNLA but remember that Vin Scully won’t be on tonight, now you have an alternative.
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