Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly dropped Jimmy Rollins to eighth in the lineup Saturday in his first significant change to the batting order since moving Joc Peterson to the leadoff spot April 29. It marks the first time since 2008 Rollins has started a game in which he batted eighth.
Mattingly anointed Rollins the club’s leadoff hitter in Spring Training and the veteran shortstop largely flourished. He carried the success over into the regular season by hitting a go-ahead home run in the eighth inning on Opening Day.
However Rollins has since scuttled at the plate, which led to Mattingly facing ongoing questions as to when change would come. The fifth-year manager regularly deflected the probes, and said he was confident Rollins would right the ship, citing his good swings and at-bats.
The optimism is one Rollins also expressed roughly one month ago. Though results haven’t matched his comments. Overall he’s batting .210/.278/.352 and has 30 strikeouts to 17 walks in 194 plate appearances.
Along with dropping Rollins, Mattingly moved Adrian Gonzalez to third, swapping him with Howie Kendrick, who bats cleanup Saturday; it’s how the duo was slotted through the first 20 games of the regular season.
Gonzalez is slashing .387/.439/.787 with seven home runs and 18 RBIs in 18 games when batting third in the lineup this season. Comparatively, his slash is .308/.402/.495, he’s hit three home runs and collected 17 RBIs in 26 games as the cleanup hitter.
Justin Turner is again starting at third base and bats second. Yasmani Grandal returns from the seven-day concussion disabled list and is batting sixth. The Dodgers are looking to avoid being shut out in a fifth consecutive road game. They’ve already set a franchise record by not scoring a run in their last four games away from Chavez Ravine.
Saturday’s complete lineup:
CF: Joc Pederson
3B: Justin Turner
1B: Adrian Gonzalez
2B: Howie Kendrick
RF: Andre Ethier
C: Yasmani Grandal
LF: Scott Van Slyke
SS: Jimmy Rollins
P: Carlos Frias