6/15/2013 3:58 P.M. ET
Dodgers face Bucs' rookie pitcher in big league debut
By Steven Petrella / MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- Adrian Gonzalez said he would rather face the best pitcher in baseball than a young arm making a spot start.
But the Pirates' Brandon Cumpton made his big league debut against Los Angeles, something Gonzalez would rather not have to deal with.
"If he's able to execute early on in the first at-bats, now you're in defense mode," the Dodgers first baseman said. "It's always tough. You always want to have a track record with a guy so you kind of have a feel for it."
Dodgers outfielder Skip Schumaker said he never knows how a pitcher in that situation will be feeling, so it takes a few at-bats to feel him out. But getting on that pitcher early before he can settle helps counter that.
"Rookie pitchers, once they settle in, they feel like they belong," Schumaker said. "And you want to try to make them uncomfortable."
Scouting Cumpton wasn't easy for the Dodgers, but 20 years ago, it would have been nearly impossible. When Dodgers manager Don Mattingly played in the 1980s and 90s, it was much more difficult to scout pitchers making their big league debuts.
But now, he says, the technology allows players to pull up Minor League video of Cumpton almost instantly. But video is not a real-life at-bat, and Mattingly said it's always different until a player steps into the batter's box.
Gonzalez said the Minor League videos provide limited angles, making it more difficult to pick up on delivery and tendencies.
"I've never been one to be excited about facing a guy for the first time," Gonzalez said.
Mattingly shuffles lineup in hopes of more offense
PITTSBURGH -- The Dodgers offense has enough pop to score more than it has this season. The club ranks 13th in the National League in runs scored, and with proven bats like Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez in the middle, manager Don Mattingly feels there should be more.
Mattingly batted rookie outfielder Yasiel Puig in the No. 2 spot for the first time in his very young career in order to group him, Gonzalez, Ramirez and Andre Ethier together in the order.
"Just to see if we can get something rolling," Mattingly said. "Try different guys in different spots."
Puig can hit for power and contact, but also has the speed to turn a single into a double or steal a base, and the value of that in a tight game is something Mattingly likes from his one or two hitters. Skip Schumaker led off on Saturday.
Gonzalez has been slumping lately, and he has just four RBIs in 46 at-bats this month entering Saturday's game. In his last seven games, he is 4-for-26.
Mattingly said getting Gonzalez some protection with Ramirez batting fourth will hopefully spark something offensively. When Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford return from injury, as well, that will bolster the lineup even more.
Gonzalez said he needs to keep his approach the same and not worry about the results, because that's how players start slumping.
"He's going to have his little points in time where he's going to struggle like everybody else," Mattingly said. "Adrian's fairly consistent. He gets his hits. Usually when Adrian struggles, he swings out of the strike zone."
Hanley feeling good but still limited
PITTSBURGH -- Hanley Ramirez returned to the Dodgers lineup Friday night, and he said he didn't feel any pain afterward. But still, with an injury as delicate as a hamstring strain, he has some limitations.
Mattingly said batting and fielding won't be a problem for his shortstop, but added that Ramirez doesn't have his full arsenal of tools back at this point. The 29-year-old has played just 11 games this season and came off the disabled list June 4, but has only started three games since because of the hamstring.
"I don't think he's going to be trying to steal bags, but we do know he can hit, play the field," Mattingly said. "He's not running at 100 percent."
Mattingly said he may treat Ramirez like he does Mark Ellis by giving him a day off after playing him, until the injury is fully healed.
• The Pirates would clinch the series with a win Saturday. The Dodgers have won six straight sets against Pittsburgh. Los Angeles has the best winning percentage against the Bucs of any team in the National League dating back to 2001.
• Mattingly said watching Friday's game from the pressbox while serving his one-game suspension was difficult because he's always thinking like a manager when seeing the game play out on the field.
"You can't help that," he said.
• Dodgers reliever J.P. Howell dropped his appeal of his two game suspension resulting from Tuesday's scrum with the D-backs. He pitched a scoreless sixth and seventh Friday, and will begin his suspension Saturday.
• The Dodgers claimed catcher John Baker off waivers Saturday and optioned him to Triple-A Albuquerque. The 32-year-old had six hits in 46 at-bats for the Padres this season, appearing in 16 games.
Steven Petrella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.