Dodgers

Bad luck contributing to Dodgers’ slow starts at the plate

LOS ANGELES — The 13th day of April was a Friday. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he might break his superstition of avoiding the white chalk lines while stepping onto the field.

Joe Davis, the Dodgers’ television play-by-play broadcaster, wore a pair of prescription glasses to the ballpark. He said some fans on Twitter noted that his dark-rimmed specs coincided with a winning streak last year. So they made a comeback.

The Dodger batters, maybe more than any group of men at the ballpark Friday, had reason to be superstitious. By Thursday they were putting the ball in play above the league-average rate. They were hitting line drives more often than all but five teams. Yet their batting average on balls in play – BABIP for short – was a mere .275, below the league average of .288.

That’s more bad luck than a black cat walking under a ladder.

“I do believe that there’s some hard contact in play that isn’t being rewarded,” Roberts said. “If that consistently shows up it’ll change.”

Hitting coach Turner Ward has relayed some form of this message to the Dodger hitters. His audience should be receptive. Six regulars entered this weekend’s series against the Arizona Diamondbacks with batting averages below .220: Corey Seager, Chris Taylor, Yasiel Puig, Kiké Hernandez, Logan Forsythe and Joc Pederson.

“A couple comments that I’ve made to a couple guys: you ought to be acting like and feeling like you’re hitting .350,” Ward said, “because if some of those balls fall in, that’s where you would be.”

Ward pointed out that hot streaks and cold streaks are nothing new. When the Dodgers were riding a 43-7 stretch last summer, ultimately climbing 55 games above .500, his message to hitters was to not grow overconfident.

When the season is three weeks old, and your batting average is still hovering near the Mendoza line, it’s different. Then, Roberts said, it can be harder to convince a player that his problem is bad luck and not bad process. The Dodgers’ problems at the plate aren’t limited to luck, either.

“I still think that 1 through 8 we can still be better with our at-bat quality consistently,” Roberts said.

ALSO

Justin Turner still has not been cleared to pick up a bat since he was hit by a pitch in spring training, fracturing his hand. The third baseman has been standing in a batter’s box without a bat against live pitching in the cage this week. The drill is designed to help batters track and see pitches. …

Students from John Muir High in Pasadena, Jackie Robinson’s alma mater, were among those who attended a special program at Dodger Stadium on Friday morning. The program included a panel discussion featuring Roberts and was part of the Dodgers’ “Jackie Robinson Day” slate of weekend activities. …

All players and coaches from the Diamondbacks and Dodgers will wear No. 42 on Sunday, an annual tradition that Major League Baseball began in 2004 to recognize Robinson breaking the color barrier in 1947. His number is the only one retired by every team in the league.

UP NEXT

Diamondbacks (RHP Taijuan Walker, 0-0, 3.27 ERA) at Dodgers (LHP Rich Hill, 1-0, 2.70), 6 p.m., SportsNet LA (where available)

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