09/08/12 5:25 PM ET
Giants, Dodgers say division race far from over
By Jay Lee / MLB.com
"For me, I don't feel like it's over at all," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said after stressing the need to win the series. "We just need to keep perspective at where we're at this moment and not get too down and say, 'Oh, we're X amounts of games behind San Francisco, things really look bad.'"
Mattingly said that his coaching staff has been tasked with making sure that the Dodgers players aren't making too much of the series despite the excitement generated from fans and the attention given to the series from a national scale.
"You ask your guys to bring intensity to a certain level and then keep it there, instead of trying to get up for San Francisco, and then not be ready for San Diego or not be ready for somebody else," Mattingly said. "You like to hear guys say that it's just another game."
That could be easier said than done, especially with the rivalry being magnified with the division title and a postseason berth on the line, as Giants manager Bruce Bochy said that the competitive rivalry is "bred in both systems" even as early as the Minors.
"There's added attention from the fans, and there's the history here," Bochy said. "We like to think that we approach every game the same, though. There's no question that being here in September, you'll feel it everywhere -- the fans, the field. That's why you play the game. No question it raises excitement and intensity."
Mattingly said the Dodgers aren't thinking too much of the Giants' lead in the division, recalling how the St. Louis Cardinals erased a 10 1/2-game Wild Card deficit with an unexpected run through September that ultimately ended with winning the World Series.
"We had St. Louis last year where we swept those guys in four straight," Mattingly said. "They booed and were moaning and groaning about this and that. They looked like a dead team, and you said, 'These guys were done.' Next thing you know, two weeks later, they've caught fire and rolled right through. We've got to get on that roll."
Blanco slated for lion's share of time in left
SAN FRANCISCO -- With the Xavier Nady-Gregor Blanco platoon in left field on hold due to Nady's strained left hamstring, the left-handed-batting Blanco got the start against the Dodgers and lefty Chris Capuano on Saturday.
Bochy said that Blanco will get the regular playing time in left as Nady recovers, and that Brandon Belt will only shift to left field from first base when Buster Posey takes a game off behind the plate by manning first.
"For the most part, you'll probably see Gregor out there when we don't have Belt [in left]," Bochy said.
Belt got his first playing time in the outfield this season when he started in left field Friday, and Belt said before Friday's game that he felt comfortable with the position switch, joking that he'll try second base and catcher next. He was back at first base Saturday.
"He was comfortable and he felt fine out there and saw the ball well," Bochy said Saturday. "The day games are a little tougher here with the sun coming out, and that's why Gregor is out there today."
Jay Lee is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.