Notes: Nomar not worried about power
First baseman productive despite not hitting homers
PITTSBURGH -- With 32 RBIs after 55 games, Nomar Garciaparra is driving in runs at a pace of nearly 100 for the season.
He's batting a respectable .289, and with runners in scoring position, that figure jumps to .463. On the current trip, he's 6-for-16 with four RBIs.
But after tying for the club lead in home runs a year ago with 20, he's hit only one this year and that was 154 at-bats ago, a solo shot on April 16 in Arizona.
What's up with that?
"I just do the job. When I see guys out there to be driven in, I try to drive them in," said Garciaparra, who topped out at 35 homers for Boston in 1998. "I've never tried to be a home run hitter. Sometimes the ball just goes out, and sometimes it doesn't. There are a lot of factors, like the ballpark and the environment.
"But home runs have never been my goal. I try to do the stuff that helps my team win. If I hit a bunch of home runs or not, as long as I can help my team win. I've never been a stat guy. I've only been concerned with trying to win ballgames the best I can."
Garciaparra's sudden power loss is illustrated in those stats that don't concern him. His slugging percentage is .353, way down from .505 last year and .540 for his 11-year career. His 20 home runs last year came despite missing one-quarter of the games entirely and playing through another quarter with three significant injuries. At this time last year, he had six home runs, despite missing the first 16 games with a strained oblique muscle.
This year, from all accounts, the 33-year-old Garciaparra is healthy by comparison. He's played in all but one game.
What about Furcal? The power loss for shortstop Rafael Furcal is more easily explained, but striking nonetheless. He slugged 15 last year as the leadoff hitter, and was even being considered to bat third after the acquisition of Juan Pierre and before the signing of Luis Gonzalez.
But Furcal, who has never hit fewer than four home runs in seven previous seasons and has averaged 14 over his last four seasons, has none this year. His slugging percentage of .364 is down from a career-high .445 last year and .415 for his career. The reason is clear.
"My ankle," Furcal said, referring to the left ankle he sprained in Spring Training and aggravated during a rundown play Saturday night. "Sometimes it hurts a little and I don't stay back on it [batting left-handed]. What can I do?"
The answer, says Furcal, is to play hurt, because the alternative -- to not play -- is unacceptable to a gamer who has averaged 153 games over the last five seasons.
As might be expected with an ankle injury that cost him the first eight games of the season on the disabled list, Furcal's stolen base totals are also down. He has six, but only one since May 13. He had 12 at this time a year ago.
Stinnett traded: Catcher Kelly Stinnett, who retired from Triple-A Las Vegas last week to spend time with his family, unretired Sunday when he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals, who were desperately in need of catching after an injury to Yadier Molina.
The Dodgers received cash considerations in the transaction.
Kent's 'slump': Jeff Kent took a predetermined day off Sunday that manager Grady Little said had nothing to do with 0-for-16 and 1-for-26 recent results, which Little ascribed to bad luck.
"This isn't for his production, it's for his body, and not for today, but for three months," Little said. "The numbers you talk about, he's driving balls to the wall and they get caught and there's not a lot to show for it."
Kent leads the club with eight homers after hitting only 14 while playing hurt last year. His average has dropped from .295 to .262 in the last week.
"You see what I'm doing, I'm driving the ball but I'm not getting any Texas Leaguers and I can't find holes, like the first couple months last year," Kent said. "It's the nature of the game and sometimes it's frustrating, but you can't force fortune in this game. You just ride it out and it's no big deal. When you don't have a frustrating time is when you win the MVP award." Kent was National League MVP in 2000.
Whiffmasters: The ratio of strikeouts to innings pitched is an indication of the live arms in the Dodgers bullpen, where three relievers have more than one strikeout per inning. They are Jonathan Broxton (36 strikeouts, 29 1/3 innings), Takash Saito (29 strikeouts, 23 2/3 innings) and Chad Billingsley (36 strikeouts, 29 1/3 innings). Rudy Seanez (27 strikeouts, 28 1/3 innings) is just shy after striking out five in two innings on Saturday night.
Coming up: In Monday night's finale at 4:05 p.m. CT, Derek Lowe (5-5, 3.32) opposes Bucs lefty Paul Maholm (2-7, 5.35).
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.