Just four days before the return of Yasiel Puig, the Los Angeles Dodgers lost another outfielder in Scott Van Slyke due to a back injury. Although a crowded outfield was one of the team’s issues in 2014, it became a blessing, as three Dodger outfielders were on the disabled list at the same time (Carl Crawford, Puig and Van Slyke).
After spending 15 days on the disabled list and a successful rehab assignment in Single-A Rancho Cucamonga that included a home run in one of the games, Van Slyke returns to the Dodgers and is in the starting lineup on Wednesday night against left-hander Wandy Rodriguez and the Texas Rangers.
Van Slyke slashed .264/.313/.402 with 14 RBIs before injuring his back and will probably share time with Andre Ethier in left field, playing when there is a left-handed pitcher on the mound. This season, Van Slyke is hitting .286 against left-handers compared to the left-handed hitting Ethier at .250.
The Dodgers offense has struggled a bit to score runs in their past 12 games, failing to score more than two in just over half of their contests. Van Slyke should provide some help in the lineup and in the later innings as a bat off the bench.
However, with Van Slyke returning to the Dodgers, a corresponding move was necessary. Right-handed reliever Chris Hatcher was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left oblique strain. Hatcher has struggled all season to the tune of a 6.38 ERA in 18.1 innings. He’s pitched in just two games since June 4, although he held the opposition scoreless in his last three appearances.
Hatcher’s injury coincides with the impending returns of right-handers Brandon League and Joel Peralta, meaning the Dodgers had the chance to let him get healthier without sacrificing too much in the bullpen.
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