Place a big, red circle around June 4 on the calendar, as it may ultimately be looked upon as the day the Los Angeles Dodgers turned things around. On this date, Don Mattingly ripped his team for its selfishness and lack of unity, using an expletive to describe the play of the Dodgers.
In the four games since, the team has gone 3-1 on the road, has scored 23 runs in total and has outscored their opponents by 13 runs. They have gotten production out of some familiar faces, but also from role players and emergency call-ups, as Scott Van Slyke, Miguel Rojas and Jamie Romak have all played a role in recent Dodger victories.
There has also been a surge in the play of Matt Kemp, who has gone 6-for-12 over the past four games while scoring four runs, driving in three and drawing five walks. And now, the Dodgers have learned that both Juan Uribe and A.J. Ellis will be returning from the DL very soon.
Ellis may be activated by Thursday, while Uribe could be playing in the minors for a rehab assignment “in a couple of days.”
The return of two key regulars could serve to further spur a Dodger club that now seems poised to make a run at the postseason. Not only are Uribe and Ellis productive members of the Dodger offense and defense, but they are also important clubhouse leaders. Their return to action could be another significant turning point in a season that has been desperate for them.
Carl Crawford, on the other hand, has had a setback in his rehabilitation from an ankle sprain, which may not be the worst bit of news considering how unsettled the outfield situation is. It may soon become even more complex, as Mattingly is considering a platoon in both center (Andre Ethier/Van Slyke) and in left (Kemp/Crawford).
Right around this time last year, the Dodgers were 9 ½ games back in the NL West, and turned it around so significantly that they wound up in first by a wide margin. With the San Francisco Giants playing so well, they may not be able to run away with the division again, but they are by no means out of contention.Tags: A.J. Ellis, Andre Ethier, Baseball, Carl Crawford, Don Mattingly, Juan Uribe, Los Angeles, Los Angeles Dodgers, Matt Kemp, MLB, Scott Van Slyke