SAN FRANCISCO — With the Dodgers in an epic descent from unbeatable to hapless, the search for scapegoats is on.
Curtis Granderson has been a popular choice. Acquired from the New York Mets on Aug. 18, Granderson joined a team that was being talked about in lofty terms as a threat to join the best baseball has ever seen. The Dodgers have gone 6-18 since then, losing 16 of 17 before Tuesday.
After an initial burst of three home runs in his first six games with the Dodgers, Granderson has been unproductive to say the least. During the Dodgers’ 17-game freefall, Granderson hit .082 (4 for 49) with 18 strikeouts. He has plenty of company in a stalled offense. But those kind of numbers from the new guy in town will draw negative attention.
“The last I checked, there’s 40 guys on this roster who are out there playing. My name isn’t ‘Dodgers,’” he said with his usual wide smile, drawing his hand across the front of his jersey. “We’re all going out there playing and trying to put ourselves in the best position to win. … Collectively as a team, we haven’t played very well recently and we have to turn it around.
“I can’t swing harder. That’s not going to make it. I can’t yell and swing. I can’t run any faster than I’m already running. I can’t tackle anybody. You just have to go out there and let the game come to you.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is certainly giving him that opportunity. Despite Granderson’s struggles, Roberts has started him in 21 of 25 games through Tuesday and batted him as high as leadoff just two days ago. Granderson continues to get opportunities to play his way out of the slump, Roberts said, because of his track record and the Dodgers’ desire to sort through their left-handed outfield options.
“There is something when you trade for someone who’s had a good year, a productive season in Granderson and the last 70 at-bats haven’t been ideal for him. He’s struggled. You want to find a way to get him untracked,” Roberts said, pointing to some recent “hard contact foul” balls as a sign that Granderson is “getting close.”
“I do know the preparation is there. He’s been there, he’s done that, he is streaky. To give him as much opportunity to find his stroke – we want to do that.”
Granderson acknowledges his history as a streaky hitter and accepts it. So during slumps like this, he doesn’t become overly anxious about finding a trigger that will lead him out of it.