Dodgers' lineup changes cut into Loney's time

Dodgers' lineup changes cut into Loney's time

PHILADELPHIA -- Fallout from the Dodgers' recent lineup juggling includes a reduction in playing time for first baseman James Loney, who was not in the starting lineup Wednesday night against the Phillies and left-handed starter Cole Hamels.

Loney is batting .242 overall with three homers and 19 RBIs, raising his average from .167 in the last six weeks. But against left-handers, he is hitting .176 with one double and two RBIs. So Casey Blake started in his place at first base, Juan Uribe moved from second to third and hot-hitting Jamey Carroll was back in the lineup at second base with rookie Dee Gordon at short.

"I can't say it's a straight platoon, but we're trying to find more offense," manager Don Mattingly said. "James kind of hasn't thumped lefties and we've got to find extra runs here and there."

Mattingly wouldn't be pinned down on how long the platoon would last.

"I hate to say what I'm going to do when I don't really know," he said. "There's nothing wrong with a little competition. We've got to find a way to put up more runs. I think James is a confident kid and it's not a matter of me not believing in him. But there's never anything wrong with competition. You've got to continue proving yourself. There's always somebody coming. Put up the numbers. You've got to perform. There really are no free rides. You know it's there with James, you've seen it. But it's not about yesterday, it's about today."

Mattingly agreed that Loney tinkers with his stance and swing as much as any Dodgers hitter, not always with explanations that make sense.

"He's rolling and the next day it's like, Uncle Harry got to him overnight and he's got a different stance," said Mattingly. "Sometimes it changes from at-bat to at-bat. To be consistent, you stay with your base. But if it's not working, you can't expect to change [results] without changes."

Mattingly said Loney's explanations for the changes don't always make sense, but Mattingly said he's been there, making too many changes as a hitter, especially when he was combating back problems late in his career.

"I'm sure he's trying to be better than he's been," Mattingly said. "You always try to get better. Sometimes you're an inch away and you make a foot-long change. That's what scares you. I'm talking from experience."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.