LOS ANGELES -- Adrian Gonzalez was given a rare day off on Friday against Pirates southpaw Francisco Liriano. The Dodgers' first baseman is batting .177 against lefties with only one of his 12 homers. Scott Van Slyke was inserted at first by manager Don Mattingly for the third time this season.
"One of the things with Adrian that's tough is that you always want him in the lineup," Mattingly said. "He wants to be in there. He has always, for the most part, kept himself healthy. We just want to keep him strong. He's a little older -- not ancient -- and we obviously want to keep him healthy."
Gonzalez, 32, has played at least 156 games in eight of his 11 Major League seasons.
A nine-time Gold Glove winner at first base, Mattingly is keenly aware of the defensive stress that position can create. Back issues late in his career, after he'd played more than 150 games in six seasons, might be keeping him out of the Hall of Fame. First base is more demanding on the body than a lot of people understand.
"As you get older, it's kind of hard to maintain 162 [games]," Mattingly said. "Matt [Kemp] played every day for a couple of years, and it's something to be proud of. As you get older, that extra day can help you be productive."
With one hit in 13 at-bats on the homestand, Gonzalez has watched his batting average drop to .265. The four-time All-Star has 12 homers and 36 RBIs in 54 games, seeking 100 RBIs in a season for the seventh time.
"He'll get on a run and throw up numbers," Mattingly said. "I think Adrian is fine. When he's tired, you've got to recognize it and give him a day."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. Michael Lananna is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.