With the Los Angeles Dodgers making their way to Kansas City for the final three games of their six-game road trip, manager Don Mattingly was a guest on MLB Network’s ‘MLB Now’ prior to Monday’s series opener.
Among the topics discussed was his critical assessment of the team’s play during a recent homestand and Hanley Ramirez’s error that cost Clayton Kershaw a perfect game. As Kershaw did, Mattingly defended his shortstop and felt Ramirez was put into a position to make a difficult play.
On multiple occasions this season, Mattingly has removed Ramirez late in games for defensive purposes, much to the chagrin of the 30-year-old shortstop, and the manager later admitted it was a move he considered prior to Ramirez’s costly error.
During the interview, Mattingly explained his reason for removing Ramirez and indicated it would be a move the Dodgers continue to do moving forward:
“We have decided that we’re going to try and defend late. If we have a lead late, we’ve got enough young kids that really pick it at short right now that are up with us. We’ll defend late for him.”
As the Dodgers have suffered injuries to multiple utility infielders, they’ve looked to the Minor League ranks to fill the void. Erisbel Arruebarrena, Carlos Triunfel and Miguel Rojas have been the beneficiaries.
Arruebarrena was the first of the three minor leaguers to get an opportunity to play, as he arrived via a promotion from Double-A that may have gone to Alex Guerrero had he not been injured in the scuffle with Miguel Olivo.
Rojas was then promoted at the expense of Arruebarrena, who was optioned to Triple-A. Rojas has appeared in 14 games with the Dodgers, six at shortstop and eight at third base. He’s believed to be in the similar mold of Arruebarrena — that of an infielder with a strong glove, which Rojas displayed in Kershaw’s no-hitter.
Triunfel has received the least amount of playing time among the three infielders, appearing in four games entering Monday. Triunfel was recalled June 14 when the Dodgers placed Chone Figgins on the disabled list with a quad strain.
For much of the season Ramirez has been considered a weak link in the Dodgers’ infield, though he made a few impressive plays during the weekend series with the San Diego Padres.
While Ramirez becoming more of a steady option defensively would be a welcome sight for the Dodgers, it still may not be enough for him to prevent Mattingly from going to another option with the Dodgers ahead in late-game situations.
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