Roberts asks offense to dig a little deeper

Roberts asks offense to dig a little deeper

SAN DIEGO -- The Dodgers offense entered Sunday eighth in the league in runs scored and ninth in on-base percentage.

So while the streaky bullpen has been the focus of attention, particularly after two walk-off losses against the Padres, the hitters have been struggling ever since they outscored San Diego, 25-0, in the season-opening series sweep.

Before Sunday's 17-inning, 9-5 win over the Padres, in which Howie Kendrick (4-for-8) and pinch-hitter Justin Turner homered, Roberts urged his players to dig a little deeper.

"Every individual player has got to take it upon himself to compete every pitch," manager Dave Roberts said on Sunday. "It's something that sounds easy, but every pitch is important, and when you're going through something like this, to be able to look back at a game and know for four at-bats you competed every pitch, that's what you have to do. As a player, I know that's what I tried to do. In theory, that's the way you're supposed to do it. But it's hard."

Roberts doesn't know when he will be able to start catcher Yasmani Grandal, who bruised his right foot Saturday night fouling a pitch off it. Grandal, however, has already been one of many offensive disappointments this year coming off shoulder surgery, as he is batting .196 with three homers and 13 RBIs. He was replaced by A.J. Ellis, batting .233 with one home run and eight RBIs, going into Sunday.

As for the bullpen, Roberts said the club considered sending Saturday night losing reliever Chin-hui Tsao back to Triple-A, but decided to keep the eighth reliever.

He also said hard-throwing swingman Frankie Montas -- who allowed a solo home run in a two-inning rehab start Sunday with Double-A Tulsa following rib surgery -- will be stretched out as a starter, even though the club's most immediate need is relief. Montas is eligible to be activated June 4.

"Depending on the state of the club at that point in time, he'll be in the 'pen if the need is there," Roberts said. "He throws 100 [mph] so it makes sense to be a reliever, but starting pitching is always a commodity and we'll stretch him out. If you can get a guy that can pitch in a rotation, that's the No. 1 goal. Almost by default or out of necessity, we'd use him in a bullpen capacity."

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.