ST. LOUIS -- Although they are two wins away from reaching the World Series, the overriding storyline of the Dodgers for much of 2013 has been, and continues to be, how endless injuries could keep them from getting there.
Andre Ethier and Hanley Ramirez, but there was concern for them even heading into the National League Championship Series, before Ramirez had his rib cracked by a Joe Kelly fastball. And yet, the Dodgers soldier on.
"We obviously talk about it a little bit because we want to know if Hanley and Andre are playing, just like we want to know if anybody else is playing," said Clayton Kershaw, who starts Game 6 on Friday night (5:30 p.m. PT, TBS).
"But I think at the end of the day, we've got such a good group of guys that it doesn't really matter as far as mentality when we hit the field. Now, obviously, the talent of Andre and Hanley is something you can't really replace and we understand that. But at the same time, it doesn't do any good to think about what-ifs. We realize that. We understand that, and we're looking forward to hopefully having both those guys on the field."
General manager Ned Colletti hoarded players because so many of the ones he has are brittle. The Dodgers had 25 placements on the disabled list this year.
Of the eight starting pitchers with guaranteed salaries whom the Dodgers took to Spring Training, Chad Billingsley and Josh Beckett were lost for the season after combining for one victory. Ted Lilly was released after going on the disabled list three times. Chris Capuano was on the DL twice, won a huge playoff game against the Braves out of the bullpen, then was left off the NLCS roster. Zack Greinke, the Game 5 winner, missed a month with a broken collarbone suffered in a brawl.
"Everybody said we had too many starting pitchers," said Colletti. "Then we didn't have enough."
Same thing with the starting outfielders. Once Yasiel Puig arrived, many believed the Dodgers had to trade either Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford. If they had, they wouldn't be in St. Louis on Friday.
Kemp, deserving of the MVP two years ago, had a second injury-marred season end with a broken foot and shoulder surgery. Ethier is scuffling through this series with a microfracture of his lower left leg. The broken rib is the fourth serious injury of the season for Ramirez after surgery for a torn thumb ligament, a hamstring strain and an inflamed sciatic nerve.
Then there were assorted injuries requiring DL stints for Crawford, A.J. Ellis, Mark Ellis, Jerry Hairston, Scott Elbert, Scott Van Slyke, Stephen Fife, Shawn Tolleson and Jose Dominguez.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.