Luis Cruz trying to work his way off the bench

LOS ANGELES -- Remember when Luis Cruz was an inspirational story, a guy three other organizations had given up on, who finally got a foothold in the major leagues and clung to it stubbornly?

Seems like a while ago.

After Cruz went 0-for-6 the day the Dodgers were swept in a doubleheader in Baltimore, he hasn't started a game since. Instead, he has been working with hitting coach Mark McGwire on removing a loop from his swing that has resulted in plenty of strikeouts and pop-ups, but very few hits. Cruz hit .297 with 20 doubles in 78 games for the Dodgers last season.

So far, Cruz has just four hits in 46 at-bats (.087) and they are all singles. Now that Hanley Ramirez's return is on the horizon, the Dodgers' only position of offensive concern is third base. Dodgers third basemen are collectively batting .135 with one extra-base hit. That is easily the lowest production by any team's third basemen.

If Cruz weren't out of options, he probably would be in Triple-A Albuquerque by now.

"I've got to earn my spot again, just like my whole career," Cruz said.

Juan Uribe got a second straight start at third base Friday. Uribe has had a strange first few weeks. Always a free swinger, he has walked eight times already and hit two home runs, but he is batting just .190.

"Cruzer will get his chances again," manager Don Mattingly said. "This is a time for him to step back and get his swing back together. We're going to need him, so we'll get him back in the mix."

Here are lineups for Friday's game against the Milwaukee Brewers:


1. Norichika Aoiki RF

2. Jean Segura SS

3. Ryan Braun LF

4. Jonathan Lucroy C

5. Rickie Weeks 2B

6. Carlos Gomez CF

7. Yuniesky Betancourt 3B

8. Alex Gonzalez 1B

9. Hiram Burgos RHP


1. Carl Crawford LF

2. Mark Ellis 2B

3. Adrian Gonzalez 1B

4. Matt Kemp CF

5. Andre Ethier RF

6. A.J. Ellis C

7. Juan Uribe 3B

8. Justin Sellers SS

9. Josh Beckett RHP