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By Jon Weisman
From some fair diamond, miles upon miles away, Eugenio Velez looks at Carlos Triunfel and shakes his head.
Triunfel, the Dodgers’ all’s-a-shortstop-that’s-going-to-shortstop tonight after Hanley Ramirez joined Justin Turner (not to mention Juan Uribe, Chone Figgins and Alex Guerrero) on the sidelines in the seventh inning tonight, hit his first career home run immediately upon entry, providing a valuable insurance run as the Dodgers clung to a 4-2 victory over the Rockies.
The 24-year-old April 2 acquisition from Seattle has two hits in his first two at-bats as a Dodger, two more than Velez had for the 2011 Dodgers in 37 at-bats. But I come not to bury Velez. Not to praise him, either, but mainly to point out that there are no small parts in baseball, only small actors with unpredictable comic timing.
As the Dodgers aim to climb out of a 9 1/2-game hole in the National League West for the second summer in a row — and in the past nine days, they have shaken the streets of San Francisco, reducing their distance from the Giants by 4 1/2 games — the little guys and role players, whom the narrative so recently told us the Dodgers were sorely lacking, have loomed large.
Consider what’s happened merely on the left side of the infield since Uribe went on the disabled list:
- Turner is OPSing .764 on the season and .951 in his last 95 plate appearances since May 9.
- Figgins had a .373 on-base percentage before going on the disabled list himself.
- Erisbel Arruebarrena went 4 for 13 with a walk.
- Miguel Rojas is 6 for 21 (.286).
- Jamie Romak is … for now, keeping us humble. But stand by.
Together, the group has hit adequately. It has fielded adequately. It has done both with the occasional flourish, particularly from Turner until his calf started acting up.
But this is what the reserve role demands. Hold the fort and fire off the occasional salvo. Same with the Scott Van Slykes and Drew Buteras of the ravine. While observers near and far were quick to point out all the Schumakers and Puntos that the 2014 Dodgers lacked, what they weren’t noticing was that a new breed was coming along right under their noses.
Combine that with a little well-directed Ramirez team spirit, and lo! Forsooth, a new narrative. There comes a time when, instead of focusing on what you isn’t present or isn’t working, you start making the best of what is.
Note on the headline: Too much. I know.