Kemp scratched from lineup with sore ankle
Mattingly says Dodgers are taking cautious approach heading into NLDS
LOS ANGELES -- Matt Kemp's left ankle flared up Saturday night, forcing his late scratch from the Dodgers' starting lineup and raising another injury red flag five days before the start of the National League Division Series.
"It's just irritated. Nothing crazy," Kemp said. "I played the last six games and it got a little sore."
Kemp's scratch left three of the Dodgers' four outfielders ailing. Andre Ethier is taking extra batting practice in Arizona while hoping for pain relief in his left ankle after suffering an injury similar to shin splints. It's not clear whether he will be on the first playoff roster.
And Yasiel Puig was limited to a strikeout while pinch-hitting Saturday night after twice fouling pitches off his left shin Friday night, although he is likely to be in the starting lineup Sunday.
Manager Don Mattingly said he's concerned about the health of Kemp, who has already been on the disabled list three times this year with shoulder, hamstring and ankle injuries.
"Well, a little bit [concerned] just because of what we've been through," Mattingly said. "But I don't know how much good it's going to do me to be all nervous and worried about it. That's not going to help it. I feel like we're being cautious. I feel like he's going to be ready to go."
Mattingly conceded that even if Kemp is healthy enough for the playoffs, he won't be the player who was the NL MVP runner-up in 2011.
"I don't think he's running full speed," Mattingly said. "We're not going to get the 40-[steals] type guy. That's just not there, I don't think, at this point from what we've been through with the ankle and the hammy and all that. We're not going to be that. But we're still pretty good. He shows he can do a lot of things."
Kemp said the ankle was sore when he awoke Saturday. He was in the original starting lineup, took batting practice and pregame warmups, but five minutes before game time was scratched.
"Nothing serious. Just a day and I'll see how it feels tomorrow," he said. "I couldn't get loose and decided not to play today. Sprained ankles are tricky sometimes."
Kemp injured the ankle with an awkward slide into the plate after failing to run hard from third base in Washington on July 21, the day he returned from the disabled list and the hamstring strain.
Kemp was activated from the disabled list most recently on Sept. 9 and has gone 11-for-35 (.311) with a homer, three doubles and six RBIs in 11 games. But he hasn't run aggressively on the bases or in the outfield after being cautioned by Mattingly to protect his body for the playoffs.
Puig given night off, expected back Sunday
LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was thinking about resting Yasiel Puig on Saturday, and that decision became easier when the outfielder twice fouled pitches off his left shin in Friday's game.
Puig was not in Saturday's starting lineup against the Rockies but made a pinch-hit appearance, and the rookie is expected back in the lineup for Sunday's regular-season finale.
"He was fine today," Mattingly said. "It's really just me being precautionary with him. We talked yesterday about possibly giving him the day anyway. I want him to play [Sunday]. It's really just being safe with him."
Mattingly is also being cautious with infielder Nick Punto, who was scratched from Friday's lineup due to an in-grown toenail on his right foot.
"We're going to be careful with him, too," Mattingly said. "There's no reason to have to run him out there."
Punto felt well enough to field ground balls and take batting practice before Saturday's game, though.
"It's feeling better," Punto said. "I'm fine to play."
Hanley Ramirez started Saturday's game, but Mattingly the shortstop would not start Sunday. Ramirez is dealing with an irritated nerve in his lower back and has not started consecutive games since Sept. 11-12.
Dodgers put in extra work on pickoff plays
LOS ANGELES -- In preparation for the postseason, the Dodgers took about 45 minutes Saturday afternoon to work on pickoffs.
"It was just stuff we want to go over," said manager Don Mattingly. "You can't get everything done in one day in workout scenarios. We really just wanted to touch on something that we really haven't a whole lot since Spring Training."
Pitchers Ricky Nolasco, Carlos Marmol, Brian Wilson, Edinson Volquez and infielder Michael Young were not with the Dodgers in Spring Training.
"We've got some new guys around the infield with Michael and some different guys, so we want to make sure everybody is on the same page," Mattingly said.
The Dodgers will open the National League Division Series on Thursday in either Atlanta or St. Louis against whichever club finishes with the second-best record in the league. The Dodgers will take Monday off and then work out at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday.
Capuano in postseason mix for lefty relief
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers have a lot of difficult decisions to make with their roster for the National League Division Series, and Chris Capuano is now an option for a role in the bullpen as a third left-hander.
Capuano pitched a scoreless inning in relief Friday against the Rockies, his first appearance since coming out of a start Sept. 6 with a strained left groin. Primarily a starter this season, Capuano could provide the Dodgers with short or long relief in October.
"My goal was to give them that option," Capuano said. "We've got a lot of power arms, a lot of talent vying for a few spots. It'll be interesting to see what happens. At least I accomplished my goal of giving them an option."
The next test for Capauno will come Sunday. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said the club is hoping Capuano can bounce back and be available to pitch in the regular-season finale.
"If there's an opportunity to get me in there another time, I hope I can show them how I bounce back," Capuano said.
The Dodgers' bullpen is crowded without Capuano, though.
Closer Kenley Jansen is a given, as are left-handers Paco Rodriguez and J.P. Howell. Brian Wilson now appears to be the primary setup man, pushing Ronald Belisario down a notch. Carlos Marmol, rookie Chris Withrow and Brandon League are also vying for spots in what figures to be a seven-man 'pen.
"I think another lefty is a value," Mattingly said. "It depends who we're playing against."
The Dodgers will open the NLDS on Thursday in either Atlanta or St. Louis