PHOENIX -- There was a time, and it seems like only a week or so ago, when the Dodgers thought they had too many outfielders. Now, they don't have enough, at least enough productive ones. You need to add up the averages for Andruw Jones (.115), Matt Kemp (.176) and Juan Pierre (.067) to get one .300 hitter. Only Andre Ethier is above .300 on his own, and he was the one who had to fight for a job. In a 9-3 loss to the Diamondbacks, who slugged four homers in their home opener Monday night, Dodgers manager Joe Torre got a taste of what drove his predecessor to an early golf retirement at Pinehurst.More
His fifth starter, Esteban Loaiza, dug a four-run hole in the first inning and the offense sat around waiting for Jeff Kent home runs, only one of which was hit off winner Dan Haren (1-0), Arizona's main offseason acquisition. That and a two-run rally created by Rafael Furcal's baserunning ingenuity was all the Dodgers could come up with to counter four home runs by Arizona, two of them by Mark Reynolds. So, it's still looking a lot like last year all over again after a sour first match against a defending division champion that finished eight games ahead of the Dodgers in 2007. The following comment is Torre's postgame analysis, although it easily could have been Grady Little a year ago, too. "A couple of times we put ourselves in position where a hit could have done some damage, but we didn't get the big hit," said Torre. "We're going to hit. It's just a matter of when. I can't be concerned. Certainly, it's a concern when you lose a game. But the guys are capable of hitting. They are going to hit. It's just a matter of when." Any time now would be good, particularly for Jones, signed to the tune of $18.1 million a year and not to go 0-for-4 with two strikeouts while stranding runners each time and looking completely out of sorts. Jones is batting .115 (almost double Pierre's .067), but the Dodgers could put up with a low average if he at least drove in some runs. So far his RBIs (one) aren't even plural and he hasn't come close to his first home run. "Jones is fighting it right now," said Torre. "He came today to hit early in the cage. He'll hit early tomorrow. He just can't find the zone to lock in. He's not very selective right now and he's flying out of there. "Especially when you count on him, it puts that much more pressure, he's putting pressure on himself. He knows the responsibility. Right now he's just fighting it. I know he strikes out a lot. Right now, he's not making contract, he's not seeing the ball." Jones didn't exactly agree with the analysis, saying he was seeing the ball fine, but he couldn't argue with the results. "I think right now I'm just trying too hard," he said. "It's only been six, seven, eight games. I'm not worried much about it. I'll just try to correct it. There are two things I know what I have to do to be successful. I just have to do things normally all the time. I can't try to hit 20 home runs with one swing. Just play the game and let it happen. We'll see what happens when the season's over." Furcal, Jones' teammate in Atlanta, defended his friend. "He's a good player," said Furcal. "I don't think he's got a lot of pressure. He's a veteran guy. He knows how to play baseball."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less