In the 12th inning of a game that seemed to drag on forever, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ fifth outfielder Scott Van Slyke sent a ball over the wall for a 3-2 lead that eventually became a 4-3 victory.
Van Slyke has been getting the call against left-handed starters this season, playing instead of Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford, and has made the most of his opportunity. He is hitting .306 with three home runs and five RBIs in 16 games thus far prompting him to receive praise from his manager.
According to an AP story via ESPN, Don Mattingly had some kind words for his last outfielder:
Scotty’s a different cat. He’s hard to read from the outside,” Mattingly said. “You see a guy that’s kind of laid back and kind of easy moving. Everything looks like it’s in slow-mo. But he’s a guy that sees pitching and knows what he’s doing at the plate.”
The praise comes in wake of a battle in the outfield that has seen a constant rotation of the three spots. Lately, Yasiel Puig has sort of cemented his spot in right field, leaving a shuffle of four outfielders for two spots. As of now, Van Slyke only receives starts against left-handed starters and it will likely remain that way as long as Ethier and Crawford are around. Van Slyke’s success has caused many to believe that the Dodgers have five capable outfielders.
As the season wears on, having a player like Van Slyke will pay dividends because of his laid-back attitude and approach at the plate. He will never be a player to complain about playing time and is all about the team, which may prove helpful if the other outfielders grow weary of the rotation. Providing a steady bat when a lefty is on the mound is huge considering that Ethier and Crawford are almost rendered useless by southpaws.
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