JC's Dodger Dugout Whispers | June 30: Torre Tidbits
Torre indicated he will put Manny back in the No. 3 hole when he is activated on Friday but will keep a close eye to make sure Ramirez "has his legs under him." Joe noted Manny will have to be honest with him regarding how he is feeling, as it is important for Manny to transition back into the lineup with no setbacks.
Still, Torre's initial thought is having Manny play every day. He may have to "go get Manny in the seventh inning" in certain games. Torre also pointed out this will be a new experience for Manny, restarting his season in July.
Dodger Team in General
When asked about his team, Torre explained that, while they have been lucky in getting their share of breaks, he is not surprised how well they have played. They have played a lot of close games, been able to steal one run and go home with the victory.
Asked who was the Dodgers MVP, his reply was the bullpen. Since the team has left Florida, he has been very happy with their production.
Torre is also very pleased with the defensive performance of his squad, how they have greatly improved their infield defense. From last year, James Loney is the sole holdover as Orlando Hudson has taken over for Jeff Kent at second, Chin-Lung Hu has been supplanted by Furcal as the shortstop, and Casey Blake has been decked out in Dodger Blue for almost a full season, replacing Blake DeWitt and Nomar Garciaparra at third.
Praise for Pierre
Torre singled out Juan Pierre for his contributions to the team since Manny has been suspended. Pierre has started every game in left field after the whip came down, and has provided a spark at the top of the Dodger lineup, bringing a .300-plus average and boatloads of speed. He is second in the NL with 21 stolen bases.
Torre stressed that just because the Dodgers don't start Pierre, it doesn't mean he isn't important to the team. Torre said he looks forward to giving his other outfielders more rest, something he hasn't done as much as he might like given the team has been operating with 13 pitchers for extened periods.
Ethier Blast Analyzed
Torre talked about Andre Ethier and the pressure he puts on himself while at the plate. He noted it seems his right fielder is able to have better focus late in close or tied games. Ethier's home run in the 12th inning beat the Rockies on Monday.
The topic switched to the strange home run totals of Ethier and Loney. Ethier has 14 home runs at home, only one on the road. On the flip side, Loney has all five homers on the road.
As if on cue, Loney walked by the group, and Torre called out to him, asking Loney if he know all his homers have been on the road. Loney's reply, "Si."
Torre laughed and said sometimes it's hard to figure Loney out, noting he was saying it with love. He then reiterated how the disparity was crazy.
Torre then discussed Loney's patience at the plate, noting how he was getting himself out more than the pitchers by pressing. Given he is hitting .277 coming into Tuesday's game, Torre expects that number to rise through the balance of the year.
Martin Takes Rest
Dodger catcher Russell Martin is going to be on the bench for the balance of the series against Colorado. Torre observed how Martin has been scuffling at the plate and is mentally tired.
Torre plans on starting A.J. Ellis on Tuesday and Brad Ausmus for the Wednesday afternoon affair. The Dodgers then have Thursday off before starting a three-game series in San Diego.
Mientkiewicz on the Mend
Injured Dodger vet Doug Mientkiewicz took some batting practice early in the afternoon on Tuesday. His return remains a question, as, while he has regained the ability to do some things, the shoulder is still giving him some trouble.
One thing for certain is how Mientkiewicz his going crazy sitting out on the DL. Said Mientkiewicz: "I feel like going postal. I feel like going Bowa."
The last comment was a loaded verbal dart, filled with equal parts venom and love, directed at the Dodgers' fiery third base coach.
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