07/29/12 9:09 PM ET
Shortstop Cruz brings consistency to Dodgers
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
Not that Cruz should be considered of the same caliber as Ramirez, but he's done enough since taking over for injured shortstop Dee Gordon to stay in the lineup.
"He's not Ozzie Smith at shortstop, but if he gets his glove on the ball, he catches it and throws them out," said manager Don Mattingly. "He's stabilized the position and swung the bat well."
Mattingly expects Ramirez to slide over to his original position of shortstop, although he still takes more pregame ground balls at third base, where he started again Sunday, with Cruz still at shortstop, where he committed a fielding error Sunday.
Cruz said he's just grateful to be playing anywhere after a journeyman's career spent mostly in the Minor Leagues, with three previous callups of no significance.
"The first couple times I came up to the Major Leagues, I was a little nervous, I wanted to do so good," said Cruz. "Then, you don't do good. I remember in '08, I looked up and saw how big the stadium was with all the fans. I'd never seen so many fans.
"Now, I feel good. With this club, I just came in and enjoy myself. We have fun and the guys give me confidence. Three or four years ago, I played against a lot of these guys in the Minor Leagues. I played with Hanley in rookie ball with Boston. We know each other."
Cruz has a 12-game hitting streak, the longest of any Dodger this year. He didn't know if it was the longest of his career.
"They told me that two days ago, I didn't know," said Cruz. "I try not to think about it. I'm not big on numbers. I'm just here to win."
Cruz began his career with the Boston Red Sox, playing alongside an infielder named Hanley Ramirez.
"He's a great guy, he plays hard and he wants to win," Ramirez said of Cruz.
Lilly, De La Rosa each go two innings in rehab game
SAN FRANCISCO -- After beating the Giants on Sunday, the Dodgers got more good news as pitchers Ted Lilly and Rubby De La Rosa made impressive Minor League rehab appearances.
Lilly, recovering from a sore shoulder, and De La Rosa, in his first real game since last year's Tommy John elbow reconstruction, each pitched two scoreless innings, each allowing one hit and one walk. Lilly struck out one, De La Rosa fanned three.
Both pitchers could be called up during August or September in either a starter or reliever role.
Rivera moves to second in Dodgers' batting order
SAN FRANCISCO -- Manager Don Mattingly came up with another different Dodgers lineup Sunday, elevating Juan Rivera to the second spot after Mark Ellis, with James Loney batting behind Hanley Ramirez.
Mattingly said the configuration was dictated by matchups and the success Rivera and Loney have had against Giants starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong. Rivera was 7-for-17, Loney 6-for-13.
Perhaps the most interesting development since the club arrived in San Francisco is the insertion of Ellis in the leadoff spot for the second straight game. The last time he played more than a handful of games as a leadoff hitter was 2008, when he hit .224 in the spot.
"I did it earlier in my career, and it's not much different after the first at-bat," said Ellis. "It's pretty much the same thing as the two-hole. You get good pitches to hit. Donnie gave me a heads-up that he was thinking about it and asked if I had any problems with it and I said no. It doesn't change my approach. I'm the same hitter."
Mattingly unconcerned about changing chemistry
SAN FRANCISCO -- With rumors of the Dodgers seeking multiple additions such as Ryan Dempster, Shane Victorino, etc., before Tuesday's Trade Deadline, manager Don Mattingly was asked about the balance between roster improvement and clubhouse chemistry.
"You've always got to try to get better," Mattingly said. "You do worry a little if you have a clubhouse that gets along; you want to create a baseball environment for everybody. But this is professional sports and we're here to win and be the best club we can be.
"It's hard to say, 'We need to get rid of this guy and get another guy in.' If we get guys that don't fit, they won't stay around."
In addition to Dempster and Victorino, who clearly are the Dodgers' top two targets, the club has been rumored in talks for starting pitchers James Shields and Matt Garza, slugger Corey Hart, reliever Brandon League and outfielder Hunter Pence.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.