There are certain body part names you might never hear uttered anywhere other than the world of baseball. And they all carry negative connotations.
Legendary Orioles manager Earl Weaver used to play up the so-called feud between he and Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer by claiming Palmer “invented the ulnar nerve.” You’ll only hear about a “collateral ligament” when a pitcher is facing the dreaded Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery. And no one other than body builders even knew they had an “oblique muscle” until Albert Pujols missed significant playing time in 2006 due to a strained one. Too bad those words are entering the Los Angeles Dodgers vocabulary way more than they should be in 2012.
The Dodgers lost two more players to injury this week. Outfielder Andre Ethier, who hasn’t played since June 27th, was placed on the 15 day DL with a strained oblique. He says he strained it when he checked a swing one night. Relief pitcher Todd Coffey was lost for the season, and beyond, due to an injury to his collateral ligament. He will, unfortunately, have to undergo Tommy John surgery. The Dodgers can probably compensate for the loss of Coffey since the guy wasn’t necessarily lights out this year (1-0, 10 earned runs in 19 innings). Ethier is another matter entirely.
When superstar outfielder Matt Kemp hit the DL for the second time this season back on May 30th, Ethier became the only bat that could provide consistent offense on a team that has little. He is having a solid year batting .291 with 10 home runs and 55 RBI. The Dodgers currently rank last in the NL in home runs and 12th in runs scored. They have been shutout by opponents 8 times already this season. The Cubs, who currently have the worst record in baseball, have been whitewashed just 5 times.
A line-up without Kemp and Ethier is kind of like “Two and a Half Men” without Charlie Sheen and Jon Cryer – a weak line-up finds a way to get even weaker.
There was some good news in that Ethier’s roster spot will be filled by infielder Mark Ellis. Ellis is scheduled to return from a “freak” ankle injury that placed him in danger of losing a leg.
He doesn’t love L.A.
And talk about adding insult to injury, literally. Houston’s Carlos Lee , who last week rejected a trade that would have made him a Dodger, decided to join the Miami Marlins instead. Lee is reportedly looking forward to reuniting with his old White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, now the skipper of the Marlins. Great, so go to a team three games under .500 and nine games out of their division lead instead of a team that is currently tied for first in their division. Maybe Lee likes Fidel Castro also.
Manager Don Mattingly sent slumping first baseman James Loney a strong message by starting him in only eight of the Dodgers last seventeen games in June. The splinters may have caused Loney a great deal of pain. Loney has hit safely in the first four games of July. He is 5 for 13 (.386) with three RBI in those games.