Sarah's Take: Can Dodgers survive injuries?

Sarah's Take: Can Dodgers survive injuries?

Sarah's Take: Can Dodgers survive injuries?
Matt Kemp, arguably the best player in the National League, went on the disabled list on Monday with a strained hamstring, thus ending the longest consecutive-games streak in the Majors at 399.

For the first month of the baseball season, the Dodgers had a healthy team and built a sizable lead in the NL West. Despite still having the best record in the Major Leagues, the Dodgers have lost four important position players to injury within the past two weeks.

Every team has to deal with injuries during the course of the long baseball season. Whether it can find a way to win without an important player or sink in the standings while an important player is on the disabled list will determine which teams go to the postseason and which teams watch the playoffs. Now, the Dodgers will show whether they are a playoff-caliber club or whether they are just ordinary.

Losing a player the likes of Kemp is quite a blow for any team. But for the Dodgers, who already have a weak offense, losing their star player for even two weeks can have a detrimental effect on their chances of making the playoffs.

For the last week, Kemp had played with a tight hamstring. His performance had declined, and many people surrounding the Dodgers worried that Kemp would severely injure his left hamstring and miss a significant amount of time. Kemp irritated the injury on Sunday while running out a ground ball. He had an MRI on Monday that confirmed everyone's suspicion that he had a strained hamstring. A day after vowing that he wouldn't miss two weeks, Kemp went on the 15-day disabled list.

Kemp has either scored or driven in about 30 percent of the Dodgers' runs this year. Although he hasn't been stealing bases like he was projected to, he is an offensive catalyst for the Dodgers while also providing them with great defense. Putting Kemp on the DL was a wise thing to do in order to assure he will be able to play for the rest of the season, barring another injury. If Kemp kept on playing and tore his left hamstring, he would miss a lot more time, and it is doubtful that the Dodgers could maintain their large lead in the division. Now, even if the Dodgers can't maintain the lead, they will have time to regain it.

The Dodgers also disabled Juan Uribe with a sore wrist on Monday. For the past two weeks, Uribe has been bothered by the injury, forcing him to take a day off here and there. Though Uribe hit his first home run on Friday against the Rockies, the wrist became a chronic problem. The Dodgers hope his wrist doesn't need surgery and Uribe can return in 15 days.

A week from last Sunday, Jerry Hairston Jr., who can play almost anywhere, strained his hamstring. The Dodgers delayed putting him on the disabled list in hopes his hamstring would improve. However, it didn't, and they put him on the disabled list on Friday. Since Hairston was Uribe's primary backup at third base, the Dodgers have a need to find an adequate replacement.

Until either Uribe or Hairston return, Adam Kennedy and Justin Sellers will split time at third base. Whereas Kennedy is an experienced infielder who has proven offensive skills but limited range, Sellers is a better defensive third baseman. Sellers doesn't have a proven offensive record, but his superior defense should help preserve victories and lessen stress on the pitching staff.

A week from Monday, the Dodgers discovered that Juan Rivera had a torn hamstring. Although he had been trying to play with the nagging injury, he wasn't able to appear in many games for the past two weeks before the Dodgers placed him on the disabled list. The Dodgers believe Rivera can return within six to eight weeks, even if he elects to have surgery.

When Kemp went on the disabled list, the Dodgers promoted Jerry Sands from Triple-A Albuquerque. Early last year when Sands first arrived in Los Angeles, many Dodgers fans envisioned him as the answer to the club's power problems. Like most young rookies, Sands struggled adjusting to a Major League breaking ball. During Spring Training, Sands couldn't hit anything, so he began the season in Albuquerque. When the Dodgers promoted him, he was hitting .257. The team hopes he can contribute to the offensive production.

Just before Rivera went on the DL, the Dodgers signed Bobby Abreu to bolster the offense. The 17-year veteran can't play every day, but he gives the Dodgers an experienced, patient hitter who is a decent left fielder with an above average throwing arm. With the recent rash of injuries, Abreu will play an important role.

The Dodgers also promoted Scott Van Slyke, the son of the former Major Leaguer Andy Van Slyke. Last year, he was the Player of the Year in the Dodgers organization. So far in four games, Van Slyke has two hits in six at-bats.

Since the NL West appears to be weak this season, the Dodgers should be able to hold onto their large lead if they continue pitching and fielding well until some of the injured players return. Scoring runs is the big question, however.

Sarah D. Morris can be reached at This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.