CINCINNATI -- The Dodgers entered Monday's series opener against the Reds hitting .208 against left-handers as they prepared to face southpaw Tony Cingrani.
Manager Don Mattingly said it's been a struggle for his offense against lefties in 2014, but he thinks the numbers will get better.
"Our left-handers, Andre [Ethier], I don't think, career-wise, has been a really, really good hitter against lefties. Carl [Crawford], the last few years, has went down against lefties. Adrian [Gonzalez] has really been pretty good, this year he's struggled against lefties. Matt [Kemp] really has not been as good against lefties as he's been in the past. So we've had our troubles.
"Probably a bigger scenario in there is that Matt struggles against them. I think Matt's the righty that kind of really traditionally hit lefties well. So he's probably the one guy that you kind of count on, right? You say, 'OK, put him in this spot in the order and he's gonna do some damage.' We really haven't gotten that yet."
Kemp went into Monday hitting .191 against lefties this season. Gonzalez was given a scheduled day off on Monday.
Crawford uncertain of return date to lineup
CINCINNATI -- Left fielder Carl Crawford, who has been on the disabled list since May 28 with a sprained left ankle, said before Monday's series opener with the Reds that the ankle is feeling better, but he still doesn't have a timetable for when he might return.
"I'm feeling like I'm getting close, but it isn't all the way like I want it," Crawford said. "I'm building up strength in my ankle and I'm running, but it's just one of those things where you've gotta wait 'til your ankle tells you it's ready, do all the treatment, working it out and building up strength in it in the meantime."
Crawford has been running on the field -- though not the basepaths -- the past few days and has felt improvement. But while the Dodgers thought he might be back as soon as Thursday, that's still up in the air.
"It's just I don't have the explosiveness I'm used to having," Crawford said. "So that's the only thing that's kind of holding me back right now. That initial break is still painful for me. I don't know [if I'll be back Thursday]. I always wait and see what's going on. We're gonna keep trying until that day actually gets here. I like to think that things will be good."
Crawford thinks he'll need to go on a Minor League rehab assignment to prepare for big league pitching again, knowing that he'll have to produce when he returns to the lineup, given the Dodgers' crowded outfield situation.
"In the situation I'm in right now, I can't afford to be rusty," Crawford said. "I don't know when I'm gonna play again when I come back, especially if [Matt Kemp] starts swinging the bat well. If I was a guessing man, they're going to go with whoever is hitting, that's the way it goes. We say it's a four-man rotation, but it's really not because [Yasiel] Puig is obviously the right fielder, so it's really a three-man rotation between me, [Andre Ethier] and Matt."
Crawford expressed frustration in the uncertainty of the outfield situation and is taking the approach of being ready for anything.
"They tell us one thing, and something else happens," Crawford said. "So we can't really go by what's being said; we just have to wait and see which guy is struggling and wait for our turn to play. We have to be men about the situation and accept what's going on and try to do what's best for the team and kind of just be ready to play when it's time, because there's nothing we can do about it."
• Puig and second baseman Dee Gordon both left Saturday's game against the Rockies with hip injuries and each missed Sunday's series finale in Colorado. Puig, who had a right hip flexor strain, was back in the lineup for the Dodgers' series opener with the Reds on Monday. Mattingly gave Gordon, who had right hip discomfort, another day to rest. Gordon was expected in the lineup on Tuesday.
"Dee was good. I think he was ready to play," Mattingly said. "You just kind of figure with him getting another day, in this circumstance against a lefty, really just making sure he gets another day, making sure he's healthy."
• Third baseman Juan Uribe, who has been on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring, has been running the past couple of days going back to the series in Colorado over the weekend. He said Monday that the hamstring feels better, but he has no timetable for a return.
"Not really sure where he's at, we haven't been able to get out on the field the past couple of days," Mattingly said. "We didn't feel like he was going to be ready, but he's obviously getting better. There haven't been any setbacks, just never really expected him to be ready in two weeks. So we'll just play it by ear. As he starts to get ready, his body is going to tell us. So I don't expect it to be a lot longer, but I don't expect it to be tomorrow, either. He's still a little ways away."
Mattingly said he doesn't know at this point if Uribe will be sent for a Minor League rehab assignment.
• Catcher A.J. Ellis is nearing a return to the Dodgers. Ellis sprained his right ankle during the celebration after Josh Beckett's no-hitter on May 25.
"No talk of rehab with him, but I think he's getting close, also," Mattingly said. "He did a lot of things today. I'll talk to him either tonight or tomorrow, and he'll have a better clue of where we're at, but A.J. pretty much did everything today. There's a possibility by the end of the series we might see him, or early on when we get back."
Manny Randhawa is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.