LOS ANGELES -- The wheel of outfielders has been spinning all season for the Los Angeles Dodgers as manager Don Mattingly juggles playing time for Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier, with a dash of Scott Van Slyke occasionally tossed in.
Over his first 113 starts in a Dodgers uniform, Crawford has either led off (91 times, including six this season) or batted second (22 times, eight in 2014). Tonight, Mattingly dropped him to sixth.
A .231 on-base percentage certainly could be one motivating factor, but Mattingly, whether speaking with complete candor or not, said it wasn’t the only one.
"I feel like Carl is swinging the bat really well, honestly. He’s hitting the ball on the nose, and he’s not getting a lot for it," Mattingly said. "I feel like we can use him there. He’s got a chance to drive in runs, and it allows Dee [Gordon, batting leadoff Friday] to be Dee up at the top there.
"We feel like it’s an area where [Crawford] has a chance to drive in runs, and he can also still run. We feel like we’ve got a better lineup with him right there than we do forcing those guys up top."
Mattingly acknowledged that there are times players will be shuffled around the lineup to change a hitter’s mental perspective, but this wasn’t one of those times.
"It’s really more from the standpoint of feeling like you’re putting your lineup in position that fits the best with those guys," Mattingly said.
Not that any of it should matter -- all that much, anyway.
"It really does get overblown. If you’re a player, you come and you play. You get a good pitch to hit and you hit the ball hard. After the first time up, it really doesn’t matter where you are," Mattingly said of lineup slots, save for small differences in the types of pitches a player might see hitting in front of or behind specific teammates.
• With Clayton Kershaw making his first rehab start Friday with Class A Rancho Cucamonga, Mattingly said nothing about the Dodgers' plans to bring along the team’s ace has changed. "We’ll see what happens tonight. See where he’s at. Then, he’ll throw another [bullpen], and we’ll make a decision from there." Likely, though, Kershaw will make at least one more rehab start.
• While there has been plenty of griping around the league, including from his managerial brethren, regarding the execution of new instant replay rules, Mattingly said he has no big complaints. "It seems like the system works," he said. "Maybe once in a while it takes a little too long, but for the most part, the system seems to be working to me."
To some degree, the delays after controversial plays aren’t necessarily longer, just different. The void used to be filled with managers screaming at umpires. Now, not so much.
"It seems like there are going to be less arguments," Mattingly said. "There’s no reason to rush out there, No. 1, because you want to give your guys a chance [to see a replay]. And you know if they miss it, you’re going to get a review. There’s no reason to get full-fledged arguments going."
Mattingly, who was ejected four times last season, certainly sees one positive: "It’s easier to stay in the game."