Did Dee Gordon and Scott Van Slyke Audition to Play Center Field?
Howard Cole/LA Weekly Don Mattingly, Davey Lopes at Tuesday's workout
I attended the team workout at Dodger Stadium this morning, primarily to photograph the players going through their paces in preparation for Thursday's National League Division Series opener in Atlanta, Clayton Kershaw versus Kris Medlen, 5:37 p.m. at Turner Field.
I was in search of candid shots, slice of life, whatever struck me as blog-worthy. What I saw was a lot of grab ass -- guys joking around, all loosey-goosey-like to start the proceedings, around 10 a.m. Don Mattingly meeting with the media for a half hour, beginning at 9:30 a.m. on the dot.
First a quick stretch, a couple of lightly-run wind sprints, then catch as a team. Drills with pitchers -- Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Chris Capuano, Kenley Jansen, Brian Wilson among them -- fielding balls hit in front of the plate and firing to first. Zack Greinke did not participate.
Basic infield, basic outfield, then batting practice. I parked myself on the track in front of the Dodger dugout, watched and did my thing. Took a bunch of pictures, while focusing on the goings-on in front of me: infield and batting practice primarily.
I was not concentrating on the outfield, but I looked over several times, and what it looked like to me was baseball players practicing. Extremely basic stuff.
Andre Ethier came out a while after the rest of the team, took BP, and then sat with the media for around 15 minutes and answered the questions you'd expect to him to be asked.
Matt Kemp walked out on crutches, and put on a good face. More grab ass.
What I saw was the infielders drilling like infielders drill, with neither Gordon nor Van Slyke among them, and the outfielders shagging like outfielders shag, all of them in the general vicinity of center field. I did not see balls being hit to straight away left field or straight away right, nor did I see a Dodger stationed in either spot. Maybe I missed it completely.
Bill Shaikin, longtime baseball writer of the L.A. Times, saw it differently, posting a piece this morning about the possibility, however remote, of Gordon or Van Slyke landing in center field at some point this fall.
It's difficult to conjure the disaster required for either Gordon or Van Slyke to play center in an October contest, but for the sake of argument, it would more than likely involve Skip Schumaker, Yasiel Puig and Carl Crawford all being unavailable simultaneously, either because of injury (God forbid, in a three-way collision in center field) or a plethora of substitutions probably involving the double switch.
And whatever combination brings the situation about would pretty much have to happen in the same game, because the club can replace an injured player with another man for an upcoming game, assuming the player is on the 40-man roster and was in the organization as of August 31.
Bill Shaikin is one of my favorite baseball writers ever, my favorite in Los Angeles by leaps and bounds, and I have no reason to question him. I imagine he saw something I didn't, followed-up with the appropriate questions, and posted a piece about what might occur in the NLDS. Worst case scenario perhaps.
But I'm confident we won't see Gordon or Van Slyke patrolling center during the postseason. Because if it comes to that, Los Angeles is probably going to be minus some very important players.
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