Los Angeles Dodgers

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Left field is black hole of offense

The Sports Xchange
Roster Report · Notes, Quotes · Left field is black hole of offense

It's not as if left field is the only position where the Dodgers aren't getting enough production. They've scored two runs in the last 28 innings. They've scored 40 runs over the last 16 games, and 10 came in one game.

The numbers in left field just stand out because that's traditionally a position for one of the team's best hitters.

The Dodgers' left fielders came into Monday with a combined slash line of .200/.254/.284 -- which ranks 25th, 26th, and 26th among the 30 teams in baseball. Most important, they have zero home runs from their left fielders.

The only other team without a home run from left field is the White Sox, who employ slap-hitting leadoff man Juan Pierre in left field.

The Dodgers have nine RBI from the position. Only the White Sox (seven) and Yankees (also nine) are in single digits.

"We need a left fielder, we need production out there," manager Don Mattingly said. "We've got to figure out a way to do that. But we can't just sit here and 'I Dream of Jeannie' and rub the jar and somebody shows up. We've got to deal with what we have. We've got to find production some way, somehow."

Jay Gibbons became the latest to get a start in left field Monday night. Gibbons went 1-for-3, hitting a leadoff double in the fifth, but struck out in the seventh with two runners on base and nobody out. That inning was the Dodgers' best scoring chance in a 2-1 loss to the Brewers.

Gibbons was supposed to be part of a left-right platoon in left field with Marcus Thames, but that platoon never materialized. Gibbons missed the first 30 games with vision issues. That gave Tony Gwynn, Jr. a few more starts than expected, but his .224/.268/.328 slash line wasn't enough to seize the job.

By the time Gibbons returned, highly touted prospect Jerry Sands was promoted from the minors and was getting most of the starts in left field while Thames went on the DL with a right quad strain. As a result, that Gibbons-Thames platoon has accounted for nine starts in 42 games.

"They signed me here to help out in that area," Gibbons said. "I want to fulfill that and do my job. So far it's been disappointing -- more of off-the-field stuff that I can't control in not being able to play. But now I'm here and it's time to start swinging the bat."

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