Torre looking to bring focus back to Dodgers
Manager takes share of blame for club's recent struggles
NEW YORK -- In the wake of general manager Ned Colletti's criticism of his last-place club, Dodgers manager Joe Torre took a share of the blame, then he held a team meeting.
"There's plenty of blame to go around when you don't play well, that's no secret," Torre said before Wednesday's game. "We need to improve in a lot of areas, and that's my responsibility. We have to find a way to make things happen."
Torre conceded that his team's focus has wandered.
"When you're struggling, you're not as focused," he said. "You probably worry about too many things instead of concentrating on one thing at a time."
After getting swept in Tuesday's doubleheader by the Mets, Torre said the Dodgers need to put a winning streak together to get back that "conceit." Colletti's comments indicated a concern that the young Dodgers were taking things for granted.
"I don't know about arrogance," said Torre, "but sometimes when young players have success, there's a tendency to think it's easier than it really is. This game has a way of catching up to you and humbling you."
Colletti also said some players weren't hustling.
"I'm not sure anybody looks good losing," Torre said. "As I say, we've got to find a way to make all the pieces work together. Right now, you see a lot of frustration. Our young players are not there yet. [In] today's world, we want things to happen quickly. That's the nature of society. Young players have success and think, 'OK, that's how it is.' Then it bites you in the butt.
"I'm not of a mind to think that players don't care, but you get to the point where you get frustrated, and all of a sudden, you lose your discipline. It doesn't mean it's OK to do it. It's my job to reel it in."
As for Colletti's criticism of Matt Kemp's baserunning and defense, Torre agreed with Kemp that the center fielder puts in his work.
"He is here early, he gets in a lot of work -- that's physical," said Torre. "The major part of the game is the mental part. Dealing with failure is the major part of competing right now. Great players, over the years, do a better job of bouncing back.
"When he had a hot start, he got the most attention. The way he started off, we certainly had high expectations, but he's gone through a flat spot now. He's frustrated now. Matty has been like a lot of young kids -- still finding their way. Last year, he came so quickly, I've praised the fact that he came quicker than I thought and he set a standard, and when it doesn't happen, he's the first to get attention. He's still learning. I don't think the problem is terminal, but it's magnified by losing."
Torre said he wouldn't speculate whether Colletti's criticism was meant to get his club's attention.
"Ned is not one to mince words," Torre said. "He's an emotional guy. He cares very much; this is his product. He works hard and expects everyone else to work hard. Ned's been around the game a long time and he doesn't like what he sees. I don't think anybody in the clubhouse likes what they see."
Furcal should avoid trip to disabled list
NEW YORK -- An MRI on Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal's left hamstring revealed a "little strain," according to manager Joe Torre, who added that "it doesn't look like a DL thing."
Furcal suffered the injury trying to beat out a double-play grounder in the first game of Tuesday's doubleheader. He missed the nightcap and did not play Wednesday.
Torre said Furcal would be examined by team Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Thursday, when it will be decided if he should receive a platelet-rich plasma injection to promote healing.
Jamey Carroll, who started at shortstop for Furcal on Wednesday, scored two runs, with two walks and an infield single.
Kemp playing, working hard every day
NEW YORK -- Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, criticized by general manager Ned Colletti for his baserunning, defense and possibly approach, defended himself Wednesday.
Asked in a Tuesday interview on KABC Radio about Kemp, Colletti said the center fielder's baserunning and defense were below average, while also criticizing the young outfielder's approach in general.
"You can say what you want to say and think what you want to think," said Kemp. "I'm going out every day, playing as hard as I can. Sometimes you make mistakes and things happen. I'm one of the first people here every day. I get my work in, I work hard, I watch video."
Colletti also asked rhetorically -- and said he couldn't answer -- if Kemp's play was influenced by the two-year, $10.95 million contract he signed early this year.
"No deal is going to change the way I approach this game," said Kemp. "We're losing right now. People can say what they want or make excuses. I'm not making excuses. We're losing as a team, not any one individual. It's just one of those rough spots. We're starting off slow. Some things need to change and we've got to get better. A new deal has nothing to do with anything. The goal isn't to make money; that's not why I started playing the game. I love the game, and I continue to love this game."
Kemp suggested that the frustration of losing is felt throughout the organization.
"Yeah, it's frustrating to lose," he said. "We're getting beat. Not just getting beat, we're getting our butts whipped every day. That's not cool. I hate to lose. I love to win. Since I got here, I'm used to winning and getting to the playoffs. Now we're not playing good and we've got to do something. Something's got to change, something's got to shake."
Kemp bristled at the suggestion that either he or his teammates as a group are taking things for granted, as Colletti also suggested.
"Dude, this team works hard," Kemp said. "Nobody knows how early you're here, getting your work in, watching videos. We've started slow, we've hit a bump. We're going to get hot. We're good."
Starter for Saturday remains a mystery
NEW YORK -- Dodgers manager Joe Torre said he had not decided who would start Saturday's game against the Pirates, with Charlie Haeger's role riding in the balance.
Torre did say it would be a pitcher currently with the Major League club and not a Minor League callup.
Torre has Hiroki Kuroda slotted to pitch Sunday and will not pitch him on Saturday on three days' rest. He said he is undecided on whether to bring back Haeger on three days' rest for the second consecutive time, after Haeger allowed the Mets five runs in four-plus innings on Tuesday night.
One consideration, said Torre, is a combination of long relievers Ramon Ortiz and Carlos Monasterios, the latter a Rule 5 Draft pick who has a 1.69 ERA while pitching mostly in non-pressure situations.
"A big part is, what do we use between now and then?" Torre said. "We could use Haeger out of the bullpen."
If Haeger (0-3, 7.45) doesn't start Saturday, he would likely be skipped because of Monday's day off.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.