LOS ANGELES -- Manager Don Mattingly has been impressed with Luis Cruz and the stability he has brought to the Dodgers' lineup over the past month. Playing third base mostly with Hanley Ramirez shifted over to shortstop, Cruz has given Los Angeles consistent production from a position that has been a problem area most of the season.
Cruz went 13-for-29 on the team's 10-game road trip and he batted 6-for-11 in the team's most recent three-game set against Atlanta. Mattingly said Jerry Hairston will likely need more than 15 days on the disabled list (he started his rehab Monday night at Camelback Ranch in Arizona), which creates a greater need for Cruz in the lineup.
If the utility infielder continues to hit like he has been lately, Mattingly will have a tough decision to make down the stretch with Dee Gordon working his way back from a right thumb UCL tear.
The original plan was to move Ramirez back to third base when Gordon was healthy so the team could insert the speedy shortstop back at his original position.
"Right now, it's hard to think about it," Mattingly said. "We don't have to worry about it. Luis is swinging the bat really well and we're playing well right now. We'll see where Dee fits in. He's a week away from being able to play games, so we're just ways away from Dee being ready to play."
Dodgers encouraged by consistency on road trip
LOS ANGELES -- After his team went 13-12 in the first 25 games after the All-Star break, manager Don Mattingly was concerned about the Dodgers' lack of consistency and all-or-nothing results. Four of eight series ended in a sweep -- albeit three in the Dodgers' favor -- while the other four ended with Los Angeles on the losing end of a series.
During that stretch, Mattingly constantly talked about his desire to get back to chipping away at opponents and winning series with the occasional sweep if the opportunity came up.
What he saw over the team's 7-3 road trip, which included three series wins, showed him promise that the Dodgers can get the job done down the stretch.
"The bottom line is we won three series," he said when asked what he took out of the trip. "That's really what we talked about. We were in that stretch where we were sweeping people, getting swept, sweeping people, getting swept."
Prior to this most recent road trip, the last Dodgers series win that wasn't a sweep came on July 4, when L.A. took two of three against the Reds. Dating to the beginning of June, the Dodgers had won seven of 19 series, four of which were sweeps.
Although he'll gladly take a sweep, Mattingly stressed the importance of winning series openers to get back to winning two of three and three of four games against opponents to avoid coming out on the losing end.
He'll get that opportunity against National League West rival San Francisco in a three-game set at Dodger Stadium. The teams met twice at AT&T Park over the past two months with each club sweeping the other. Knowing there is a lot of baseball to be played, Mattingly is still hopeful the team's success on its trip against Miami, Pittsburgh and Atlanta carries over.
"It was a good trip for us," Mattingly said. "You are glad you come off a trip like that and get San Francisco right in your face. We can get right down to business."
Back on bench, Mattingly learns from suspension
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers got their manager back Monday night as Don Mattingly returned to the bench after serving a two-game suspension over the weekend.
Surprised by the severity of his punishment, but understanding, Mattingly said the one thing he took out of the suspension was the need to keep his players calm and in check.
He added he was pleased that his team went 2-0 with bench coach Trey Hillman at the helm, and he's ready to get back to business with the Giants in town and the suspension over with.
"You accept it, move on, turn the page and all those things," said Mattingly, who added it was "a little weird" not being there during the games. "I don't plan on getting thrown out anymore."
Ted Lilly was scratched from his start Sunday night with Class A Rancho Cucamonga, and he was scheduled to meet with the team doctor Monday night to see what is next for him. Lilly, who has been on the disabled list since May 24 with left shoulder problems, has given up just one run and two hits in five innings with the Quakes in three rehab appearances.
Matt Guerrier has a bullpen session scheduled for Tuesday, and manager Don Mattingly said the reliever has been progressing well. Guerrier, who has been dealing with right elbow tendinitis, threw one scoreless inning with two strikeouts in his last rehab appearance on Saturday with Rancho Cucamonga.
Mattingly plans to keep playing with a short bench without much of a need to double-switch and bring in players late in games. He said that could change if someone gets banged up, but the plan is to go with 13 pitchers until rosters expand in September.
Matt Kemp came out for an early round of batting practice Monday after going 0-for-12 against Atlanta. Mattingly said he was slightly concerned with the mini-slump but knows his center fielder is more than capable of turning things around quickly.
Alex Angert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.