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09/23/08 10:19 PM ET
Torre shakes up Dodgers' lineup
Ethier hits in cleanup spot to try to prevent walks to Manny
By Michael Schwartz / MLB.com
LOS ANGELES -- After the offense could not muster a run in Sunday's 11-inning loss to the Giants, Dodgers manager Joe Torre shook up the lineup for Tuesday's game against the Padres in an effort to better protect Manny Ramirez, who walked three times on Sunday.
Torre batted the scorching-hot Andre Ethier cleanup behind Ramirez for the first time since his rookie season of 2006, dropped Russell Martin from leadoff to second and pushed Matt Kemp up to leadoff. Nomar Garciaparra also got a start at first, batting fifth, in place of James Loney with a left-hander on the mound.
"We just wanted to do something a little bit different," Torre said. "Ethier has been swinging the bat really well. Maybe he can protect Manny because Loney has been struggling a little bit, so that was the reason for that switch."
Martin struggled batting in front of Ramirez when he hit third and Ramirez fourth in five games immediately after the slugger was acquired from Boston, hitting .217 (5-for-23) with just one RBI in those contests.
This time around Torre hopes Martin continues to do what he has been doing as the Dodgers' leadoff hitter by taking good at-bats and working walks.
"Any time you can make the pitcher work, and again, utilize the fact that you're hitting in front of Manny, and he was still able to do that leading off, where he was making the pitcher work, drawing some walks, and second should be no different than hitting first," Torre said. "We're just trying to put some people on base so that you sort of force them to pitch to Manny."
As for the bullpen, Torre still was not sure of when Takashi Saito would become his closer, but the manager said he would not be afraid to use Saito in a save situation.
Saito has picked up decisions in Los Angeles' past two contests, a win on Saturday and a loss on Sunday.
"We've put him in situations similar to being the closer anyway," Torre said.
Saito may soon be joined in Los Angeles' bullpen by Hong-Chih Kuo (let triceps stiffness), who said he felt good on Tuesday but has yet to cut loose with his best stuff.
Kuo, who has pitched once in the past 16 days, played catch before the game and is expected to throw off a mound any day.
Torre said Kuo may be available on Tuesday, but he does not expect that.