LOS ANGELES – On the way out of the Dodgers’ home clubhouse, players walking toward the coaches’ offices can’t help but notice a piece of paper dangling over the doorway.
Written on a piece of plain paper with a sharpie, it says, “Live together or die alone.”
Utility player Scott Van Slyke put it there. He heard the phrase while watching the second season of, “Lost,” and figured it had some crossover to what the Dodgers are trying to accomplish. Granted, they’re not trying to avoid venomous snakes, but they are trying to overcome a 6 ½ game deficit in the NL West.
“They correlate, right?” Van Slyke said. “Let’s pretend we’re in the jungle, the jungle of MLB.”
Van Slyke, whose career appeared to be on the rocks two springs ago after the Dodgers took him off their 40-man roster and declined to invite him to major league spring training, has proven to be a useful bench player the past two seasons. He is batting .254, but has walked 10 times and has a .362 on-base percentage, plus has slugged .576.
He's also a popular player in the clubhouse and grew up around winning teams with his father, Andy, a longtime major-league outfielder who reached the playoffs four times and played in the 1985 World Series.
Scott Van Slyke probably would have played more, but most of the season he has been stuck behind four well-paid outfielders and one first baseman, Adrian Gonzalez, who rarely takes a day off. Before Friday, when Van Slyke filled in at first base, Gonzalez had started 53 of the Dodgers’ 55 games. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said the plan was to give Gonzalez, 32, more rest this season.
It just hasn’t quite worked out that way.
“We just want to keep him strong,” Mattingly said. “He’s getting a little bit older. Obviously, he’s not ancient, but we feel like a couple extra days off during the season is going to help him.”