Torre: No true platoon at third base
LaRoche gets second straight start against a left-hander
LOS ANGELES -- Andy LaRoche got his second straight start at third base against a left-hander Saturday, but Dodgers manager Joe Torre stopped short of calling third base a straight platoon situation between the right-handed-hitting LaRoche and the left-handed-hitting Blake DeWitt.LaRoche was originally supposed to fight for the third-base job with Nomar Garciaparra in Spring Training before tearing a ligament in his thumb, which opened the door for DeWitt to take the job with Garciaparra also out with injuries much of the year. With LaRoche healthy, Torre now has some options in the infield, which includes having LaRoche spell left-handed first baseman James Loney. Torre said LaRoche will get some starts this week somewhere in the infield with the team facing a number of lefties.
"I don't want to say it's a platoon [at third base], because there may be a game where I think Loney has trouble with this particular left-hander, I'll put LaRoche over there and DeWitt'll play," Torre said. "I'm not afraid to have DeWitt hit against left-handers, but his numbers lately against left-handers haven't been as good as the overall number."After a great May that earned him National League Rookie of the Month honors, DeWitt has struggled overall of late, batting .200 without driving in a single run in 17 June games entering Saturday. He hit .322 with five homers and 18 RBIs in May, driving in a run in five straight games to end the month. However, DeWitt said he does not feel like he's in a slump. "When you're in a slump, you're not having good at-bats, you're swinging at bad pitches," he said. "I've been swinging consistently at good pitches, I just haven't capitalized on it. I just need to make a small adjustment and good things will happen. A slump is when you don't feel good. I feel like I'm in control of the at-bat. The last two weeks I haven't hit as well, but it's just part of the game. Everybody is going to struggle." For Saturday, Torre had originally contemplated giving Loney a day off against a tough left-hander in C.C. Sabathia but decided against it. To do so, he would have played usual starting catcher Russell Martin at third and shifted LaRoche to first, leaving Danny Ardoin to do the catching. "I had to make a choice, do I want Loney in the lineup or Danny Ardoin?" Torre said. "That's what it came down to. Loney is very comfortable right now swinging off left-handers, so I left him in there." Second baseman Jeff Kent had originally been scheduled for an off-day on Saturday afternoon, as he usually takes a day game off after a night game. But Torre wanted him in against the lefty Sabathia, so Torre decided to play Kent on Saturday and will give him Sunday off. Doing so will give Kent two days off with no game Monday. Torre gave left-handed right fielder Andre Ethier the day off Saturday. Delwyn Young started in his place and hit fifth, the first time he's batted in that spot all season.
Michael Schwartz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.