It was manager Don Mattingly's plan all along to give first baseman James Loney an occasional day off against a tough left-handed pitcher, by having Casey Blake move across the diamond from third base.
But the way Loney has started this season, lefty or righty hasn't mattered.
Loney is mired in a 7-for-43 (.163) slump to begin the season, and was given Wednesday off against Giants lefty Jonathan Sanchez. Loney -- who popped out in the ninth as a pinch hitter against Giants closer Brian Wilson -- is 4-for-25 (.160) with a home run, four RBI and six strikeouts lifetime against Sanchez.
"He's just not rolling at all," Mattingly said, before the Dodgers lost 4-3 to the Giants. "To me, it's kinda feeding itself because he's gotten anxious. He swung the bat all right in the spring. We need to get him going."
Hitting coach Jeff Pentland has been working with Loney to get his hands higher, among other mechanical adjustments.
Eleven games into the season wouldn't normally be cause for alarm, but this slump is more eye opening because Loney struggled so much after the All-Star break last year.
At the break: .309/.361/.442, six home runs, 25 doubles and 63 RBI.
After the break: .211/.285/.331, four home runs, 16 doubles, 25 RBI.
The knock on Loney has always been that he doesn't hit enough home runs. He hit 13 in 2008 and 2009, then 10 last year. One theory is the criticism has gotten into Loney's head -- he's trying too hard to hit home runs, and it's affected his overall hitting.
"I hope that's not the case," said Mattingly, who worked closely with Loney the last 2 1/2 years as the hitting coach. "We tried to stay away from any of that talk last year -- with anybody. There's nobody you deal with where you talk about trying to hit home runs. We talk about his swing, his approach, what the pitcher is trying to do to get you out."
Mattingly reiterated he doesn't care about Loney hitting home runs. He's content with the doubles, the RBI and the batting average.
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