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Dodgers Keep Things Light

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When July ended the Dodgers had an eight game lead in the NL West. In August they have gone 6-10 with their lead shrinking to 4 ½ games. With the slump you would expect the clubhouse to be filled with tension.

Not so with the 2009 version of this Dodger team.

While the team was stretching out on the field before batting practice, Manny Ramirez was laughing like an eight-year old kid at the Batting Stance Guy.

In the clubhouse while Mark Loretta was recording audio hits for the Dodgers ThinkCure! telethon, Manny went to the clubhouse radio and blasted the music loud.

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If a reporter who has no idea about baseball were to walk in, they would think the team was steamrolling their way to the World Series.

However despite the levity, the Dodgers are serious about the state of their pitching and getting out of the slump.

Manager Joe Torre ordered all players save Manny, Casey Blake and Andre Ethier to take bunting practice before batting practice.

Torre also announced Jeff Weaver would be starting in place of the injured Hiroki Kuroda on Thursday against the Chicago Cubs.

“Well a lot of their power guys are right handed,” Torre said, “and Weave right now made the most sense. He’s had some experience against them.”

Another problem facing the Dodgers is slugger Matt Kemp down with flu-like symptoms. With Juan Pierre starting for him in centerfield, Torre did not count out Kemp coming into the game as a pinch hitter.

“With the flu thing it could be overnight,” Torre explained. “He had a little temperature - it was coming down. But again he may be available to us later to pinch hit or something.”

When reminded that Kemp’s bobblehead night is tomorrow Torre said, “We got to get him back.”

“We can tell you one thing,” Torre continued. “It won’t be the [Victor] Martinez bobblehead in Cleveland where after he left they had it. It won’t be that. That we can emphatically say.”

As for Kuroda it’s a waiting game with his symptoms today being the same as yesterday.

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“He still has the intermittent headaches,” Torre said. “It’s really no different than yesterday, the intermittent headaches. He’s still doing all right.”

“We took him to see Dr. Vernon Williams as planned,” trainer Stan Conte said. “All his neurological testing is pretty normal.

“This is really going to be a day-to-day thing. This can clear up overnight or it could linger. We’re just going to have to wait day-to-day.”

As for whether to put Kuroda on the disabled list Torre replied, “We’re going to make a decision in the next couple of days.”

But never to keep things heavy, when a reporter asked Conte about the status of Doug Mientkiewicz Torre interjected jokingly, “He’s a head case too.”

See? It’s a barrel of laughs around here.

The lineups for tonight:

St. Louis Cardinals

  1. Skip Schumaker, 2B
  2. Brendan Ryan, SS
  3. Albert Pujols, 1B
  4. Matt Holliday, LF
  5. Ryan Ludwick, RF
  6. Rick Ankiel, CF
  7. Khalil Greene, 3B
  8. Jason LaRue, C
  9. Mitchell Boggs, P

LA Dodgers

  1. Rafael Furcal, SS
  2. Juan Pierre, CF
  3. Andre Ethier, RF
  4. Manny Ramirez, LF
  5. Casey Blake, 3B
  6. James Loney, 1B
  7. Russell Martin, C
  8. Orlando Hudson, 2B
  9. Chad Billingsley, P