6/16/2013 8:50 P.M. ET
Ethier's bat heating up as outfield crowd looms
By Steven Petrella / MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- The Dodgers' offense has performed well below expectations this season, and so has outfielder Andre Ethier. The two, at least partially, coincide.
The 31-year-old Ethier was hitting .244 entering Sunday's rubber match with the Pirates, 33 points below his career average. He has just 20 RBIs in 65 games, as well, on pace for a career low.
But Ethier is 10-for-24 in his last six games -- including a 2-for-4, two-RBI effort in Sunday's loss to the Pirates -- and Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said if that trend continues, it will mean good things for the club's offense, one that desperately needs some sort of kick. Los Angeles has scored 240 runs, fourth-lowest in the Majors
"I feel like we're starting to see him swing the bat that looks more like Andre to me," Mattingly said. "He's had better at-bats. It's been coming for a while, but he's starting to look like himself again."
The Dodgers are 10 games below .500, 7 1/2 games behind the D-backs for first place in the National League West. If the club wants to start stringing together wins, Ethier's bat will be a major part in the next few weeks. He has given the Dodgers about 18 home runs and 75 RBIs a year since joining the team in 2006.
"I've had the types of at-bats that I want to have," Ethier said. "I go out there, get my pitch and execute."
But with the emergence of Yasiel Puig, along with pending returns of Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford, the Dodgers' outfield could be pretty crowded in the coming months, and Ethier isn't guaranteed everyday time. Kemp may return later this month, while Crawford likely won't, Mattingly said.
Mattingly said there should be enough room for all four to play down the stretch. He said he wouldn't consider moving Ethier to left field, although he may try Puig there.
It also remains to be seen whether Puig can keep doing what he's been doing. The Cuban defector was hitting .479 with a 1.271 OPS in 13 big league games.
"It may not look the same 10 days from now," Mattingly said of Puig. "As hard as he plays, he's going to get nicked and banged up, too. So him having some days is not going to hurt him."
Uribe a late scratch due to back tightness
PITTSBURGH -- Juan Uribe was a late scratch from the Dodgers' starting lineup in Sunday's 6-3 loss to the Pirates.
Uribe was slated to play third and bat sixth against Gerrit Cole.
Without Uribe, Skip Schumaker moved to second, Nick Punto went to short, Luis Cruz slid to third and Alex Castellanos was inserted into left field, batting eighth. Catcher Tim Federowicz and Cruz each moved up a spot in the order to sixth and seventh, respectively.
"We thought he was going to be able to go. He swung the bat OK. He had trouble bending over, which is not exactly great for third," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "So, we had to scratch him, but I'm hoping with the day off tomorrow he should hopefully be ready to roll [Tuesday against the Yankees]."
Uribe drove in the game-winning run Saturday with a single in the 11th inning.
Father's Day special for Hairston Jr., Punto
PITTSBURGH -- Jerry Hairston, Jr. recalls his father Jerry Sr., who played 14 Major League seasons, pitching to him in the backyard, saying if he can't get his son out, then no Little Leaguer can.
And the younger Hairston still carries that memory with him, especially Sunday, on Father's Day.
"It's a reminder of what your father means to you," Hairston said. "My father has meant a great deal to me and my siblings."
Skip Schumaker and Nick Punto both said Father's Day makes them remember how big of a part their fathers played in shaping the baseball players and people they are today. Both have children of their own, as well.
"It's a very special day, because my father was such a huge influence in my life and my baseball career, and me as a man," Punto said. "I rarely get to spend it with him because I'm always on the road playing baseball. But you see it every year, there's a lot of father-son combinations in the crowd."
All three Dodgers said it's never easy to be away from the children on Father's Day, or really any other time throughout the long season. But Hairston's kids are his biggest fans, and they always know where he is.
Punto's kids will have presents they made in school waiting when he gets back to Los Angeles.
"We'll be home in a few days," Punto said. "Father's Day is on hold, because we'll still celebrate it. Just a few days later."
One Dodger, the father to two girls, didn't celebrate anything Sunday, though.
"It's not Father's Day in Australia," reliever Peter Moylan said with a smile. "So today's not that special to me."
Puig letting bat do the talking as he adjusts to Majors
PITTSBURGH -- Naturally, people want to hear from Yasiel Puig. In just 13 games, he's been one of baseball's biggest stories.
Because of all the media attention he's received in his young career, Puig, a Cuban defector, has decided to decline most interviews. He's batting .479 with four home runs and 10 RBIs in 48 at-bats.
"The way that the media covers baseball now, everything gets overblown, so he did have a lot of things on his plate the first week," Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said. "But I think he's going to handle it well."
Puig has been especially quiet since Tuesday's benches-clearing incident with the D-backs, when he was hit in the face by an Ian Kennedy fastball, then threw a punch at Eric Hinske. He was fined, but not suspended.
Don Mattingly said Puig never complained about the media attention, but he could tell the outfielder was bothered by it. And the manager denied being behind Puig's denial of some interview requests.
"I'm behind him having fun and playing his best baseball," Mattingly said. "I know he's been bothered by some of it, and it's not fair to him. He's 10 days in the big leagues. I know he's put up huge numbers, but that doesn't mean he's capable or ready to talk about what he's doing all the time."
• Hanley Ramirez was not in the lineup Sunday while he continues to recover from a hamstring strain. Mattingly said with the off-day Monday, it was a good time to give his shortstop a blow. Ramirez can hit and field, but doesn't have his full speed back and likely won't try to steal any bases until he's 100 percent.
• Left-hander Chris Capuano is still on track to start Wednesday against the Yankees. He hasn't pitched since May 29, and threw four scoreless innings for Triple-A Albuquerque on Friday night.
"Right now, we haven't had any setbacks," Mattingly said.
• With a win Sunday, the Dodgers would capture their seventh straight series against the Pirates.
Steven Petrella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.