The Los Angeles Dodgers are probably not the biggest fans of hamstrings at the moment. The leg muscle has cost them Yasiel Puig and Jose Peraza, while Howie Kendrick and Kiké Hernandez missed significant time before returning.
Kendrick missed 34 games after suffering a hamstring strain trying to beat out a ground ball against the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 9. Once he returned, manager Don Mattingly said the team would monitor the veteran and play him every other day to start. With a chance to clinch on Monday, Kendrick was not in the starting lineup.
Mattingly revealed that the Dodgers second baseman isn’t quite 100 percent via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
Howie’s just been a little bit not quite 100 percent,” Mattingly said. “He’s still having to play with a little bit of a governor. We’ll keep trying it and moving him forward to be 100 percent, but that’s one of the main factors tonight, that and a righty [Giants starter Jake Peavy] and with Chase you don’t really mind that.
The 32-year-old has started consecutive games just twice since returning and has pinch-hit twice, including Monday night. Kendrick is hitting .241 (7-for-29) with five RBIs in eight games since being reinstated from the disabled list.
Mattingly admitted the team is being careful with their second baseman:
It’s just that he’s having some tightness and [the hamstring] is not exactly where we want it. We’d rather him feel like he’s good to go every day. It hasn’t quite been like that. We’re being a little protective. We’re going to play Howie; he feels like he can go out there.”
With a sizable cushion, the Dodgers were able to ease Kendrick back in with no problems. Their recent play has caused some panic about that cushion, but the Dodgers need just one win in their next three games to clinch the division and set themselves up to play the New York Mets in the first round.