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X-Man Evolution: Xavier Paul's Return to Dodgers Could Be Permanent

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X-Man Evolution: Xavier Paul's Return to Dodgers Could Be Permanent
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The bad newsthe Los Angeles Dodgers are expected to place left fielder Manny Ramirez on the 15-day disabled list sometime before the start of Saturday's game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The good newsXavier Paul will be recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque for the third time this season; and this time, chances are Paul will remain on the squad for the rest of the year.

On June 29, Ramirez strained his right hamstring while running the bases at AT&T Park in San Francisco, and an MRI taken on Thursday confirmed muscle inflammation.

Manny reported slight progress on Friday, however Dodgers' manager Joe Torre doesn't think it is worth playing a man short until Ramirez is 100 percent.

Saturday will mark the third recall already this year for Xavier Paul, but this time around his stay in the majors could very well be permanent.

Twice before when Paul was optioned back down to Albuquerque, the Dodgers were faced with a decision either to keep him, or make a determination on veteran outfielder Garret Anderson, whose numbers have been less than productive.

But both times, Dodger management elected to retain Anderson, who was considered more valuable for his veteran leadership, his pinch-hitting ability, and his thorough understanding of in-game situations.

The problem with Anderson, however, is that he's not producing at all—which has been the case the entire season.

In 61 appearances and 122 at-bats for the Dodgers this year, Anderson has produced just 22 base hits, while his batting average, now at .180, has hovered well below the Mendoza Line for the bulk of the season thus far. He's also added two home runs and 11 RBI to his stat line.

His .198 on-base percentage and .286 slugging percentage also validate his struggles at the plate.

Even Dodger broadcaster Vin Scully stated during Friday night's game that "the Dodgers are going to have to make a decision soon."

Paul on the other hand, has been making the best of his time with the Isotopes. In 45 games and 181 at-bats, he is averaging .348, with a .404 OBP and a .635 slugging percentage.

His 14 doubles, one triple, 12 HRs and 34 RBI are especially productive, considering he normally hits in either of the top two slots in the batting order.

In addition, during his time up in the majors, Paul proved that he could be effective in the show. In the 20 games he appeared for the Dodgers this year, he registered 16 hits in 57 at-bats, while compiling a .281 average, a .325 OBP, and a .423 slugging percentage.

Paul's strongest assets besides his hitting are his speed, both on the bases and defensively in the outfield, and his arm strength, which is rated well above average by most who have seen him play.

Depending on how things play out over the next two weeks, and if Paul does indeed retain his roster spot when Manny Ramirez returns, Garret Anderson may be forced to decide to walk away from the game completely, or attempt to elongate his career with another squad.

Whatever happens, Garret Anderson is a highly respected icon in the game of baseball, and will always be remembered as a competitor who "played the game the right way."

His personality, attitude, and gamesmanship suggest that he will have a long career ahead of him in MLB as a coach, instructor, or consultant.

Regardless, it will be business as usual for the Dodgers Saturday night as they look to rebound against the Arizona Diamondbacks after falling Friday, 12-5.

Look for Xavier Paul to start in left field as Arizona sends right-hander Rodrigo Lopez to the hill.

Clayton Kershaw will start for Los Angeles. Game time is 6:40 p.m. PST.

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