'Character' has Dodgers weathering injury bug

Roberts impressed by club's response to loss of several contributors

'Character' has Dodgers weathering injury bug

CHICAGO -- Despite a litany of injuries that seem to keep growing by the day, the Dodgers remain in contention in the National League West.

Despite dropping the finale of their four-game set against the Cubs, 7-2, on Thursday, the Dodgers trailed the first-place Giants by just 5 1/2 games entering Friday, with a series on the horizon against their main rivals next weekend in San Francisco. How have the Dodgers managed to avoid a major drop in the standings amid a slew of players fighting injuries?

"It speaks to the characters of the players in there," manager Dave Roberts said. "You look at Trayce Thompson, who now has an opportunity, and how he's stepped up, and other guys on our team. They have stepped up. The pitching staff, the guys in the 'pen have stepped up, so it's more of the character of the players.

Thompson's solo blast

Nine players on the Dodgers' 40-man roster are on either the 15-day disabled list or the 60-day DL, including starters Alex Wood, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy. Wood, a left-hander, was just placed on the DL with an impingement in his pitching elbow, while Ryu (left shoulder) and McCarthy (Tommy John surgery) are working through their rehab protocols following offseason operations.

Also missing is outfield Andre Ethier, who sustained a fractured right leg in Spring Training and has yet to play in the regular season. His injury created an opportunity for Thompson to seize a regular spot in the lineup.

Puig pinch-hits in the 8th

The Dodgers are monitoring minor injuries to right fielder Yasiel Puig (left hamstring) and right-hander Kenta Maeda (pitching hand), and they have yet to lay out a long-term plan for replacing Wood's spot in the starting rotation. Rookie left-hander Julio Urias, the club's top prospect, started against the Cubs on Thursday but surrendered six runs (five earned) in five innings.

The focus for the Dodgers remains day to day until the frequency of their injuries subsides. So far, it's been a good approach.

"Every team deals with it in some capacity," Roberts said. "This was one of the things that I made clear in a message to the players -- things are going to happen, and we just can't let it distract us from winning games. Nobody is going to make excuses, and we have to move forward. It's not to be insensitive to any player we lose by way of injury, but we have to win baseball games."

Brian Hedger is a contributor to MLB.com based in Chicago. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.