To say things have not gone as planned this season for the Los Angeles Dodgers is an understatement.
The preseason hype in LA was backed by talks of a star-studded lineup with expectations for a deep postseason run. But now, the injury-riddled Dodgers are just hoping to tread water long enough to be in contention for a postseason bid come October.
Carl Crawford is the latest addition to deep list of Dodgers that have been bitten by the injury bug this season. The team announced Monday that Crawford has officially been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a hamstring strain.
Just days after center fielder Matt Kemp was added to the DL with a hamstring strain, this was not the news Dodgers fans wanted to hear. The list already ran deep as it was, with Josh Beckett, A.J. Ellis, and Hanley Ramirez all taking residency as injured players on the Dodgers roster and starting pitcher Chad Billingsley already ruled out for the remainder of the 2013 campaign after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Crawford has been a bright spot in what has otherwise been a dark season for the Boys in Blue. Hitting .301 with five home runs, 13 RBIs and a team-leading 32 runs scored, Crawford was proving to be a threat at the top of the order, much like he was in Tampa Bay.
With the Dodgers’ outfield depth running thin, Los Angeles called up Cuban phenom Yasiel Puig from Double-A Chattanooga. Puig is the Dodgers’ most highly touted prospect and brings a big bat that can potentially add some pop to a lineup that is 28th in the league in runs scored. The 22-year-old outfielder was hitting .313 with eight homers and 37 RBIs in Double-A and has already won over many Dodgers fans due to his success in spring training.
Can Puig translate that success into a jump start for the Dodgers’ sputtering offense? Manager Don Mattingly is hoping so, as he is handing over the everyday center field duties to Puig as Kemp heals. The play of Puig in Kemp’s absence could play a large role in what general manager Ned Colletti decides to do with slumping outfielder Andre Ethier. Even though Ethier is signed to a contract through 2017 worth $85 million, the 31-year-old is hitting .240 with just four home runs and has been the subject of trade talks in LA for a while now.
Puig knows he is under pressure to perform, and relying on a 22-year-old with no major league experience might seem a bit desperate for the NL West bottom-dwellers. But desperate times call for desperate measures, and the Los Angeles Dodgers can’t afford for much more to go wrong.