Dodgers Reaching for Catching Help and Need a Healthy Kershaw Now

With strong efforts from the rest of the starting staff, the Dodgers have pretty much weathered the storm of the injury to Clayton Kershaw, but as his return now appears imminent, the team has suffered another blow with the shoulder problem that has now put Hyun-Jin Ryu on the DL. Kershaw is set to start on Tuesday, and unless he shows he has recovered and can take his regular spot going forward, fans will see a rotation with names like Stephen Fife and/or Red Patterson.

Further complicating the starting situation is the status of Chad Billingsley, who the team hoped would be healthy and pitching before mid-season,

following last year’s Tommy John surgery. However, he has continued to have pain in his elbow, has had to stop

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throwing, has had injections in his elbow, and is now back on the DL as well.

All that pitching depth and you still never can have enough pitching. Keep in mind that Aaron Harang is lighting up the league in Atlanta, and over his first five starts had compiled a 0.85 ERA, which soared to 2.97 after one bad appearance against Miami, and Chris Capuano has been perfect in Boston, now unscored upon in 12 relief appearances.

The Dodgers’ catching situation is in far worse shape, with A.J. Ellis still out as he recovers from knee surgery. Tim Federowicz, who appeared to be solid as the backup has failed when given more playing time, and he and his .109 batting average are now back in the minors. Sal Butera has been ok as the back up, where he figures to stay, as the team is now relying on Miguel Olivo as the starter, for the time being. That, however, is a big gamble.

Olivo has had an up and down career, but at 35 has loads of big league experience, unlike any of the other contenders for playing time. He is a lifetime .241 hitter, but has power, hitting as many as 23 home runes in a season. However, last year was a black mark on Olivo, but hopefully a chapter that will not be repeated. Playing for the Marlins, Olivo was


the back-up to Rob Brantly, but in June he became dissatisfied with his lack of playing time, and as the reports stated, actually walked out on the team. He spent the rest of the year in limbo, on the restricted list, meaning no play, no pay, and no ability to sign elsewhere. The Dodgers gave him a minor league contract this spring, and he came up a couple of days ago to replace Federowicz, and in his first two games has gone three-for-seven with a couple of RBI. Olivo needs to both hit and put the team ahead of his personal interests. At least for a month or so, until Ellis is back.

The resurgent Giants and the surprising Rockies are making a race out of the NL West, but it is the NL West, which is still one of the worst of baseball’ six divisions, and the best team money can buy should be able to withstand these problems and handily land a 2014 playoff spot.

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