Don Mattingly will fine James Loney for fly outs to left field

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James Loney is off to a terrible start and was benched against a left-handed pitcher yesterday, so in an effort to snap the first baseman out of his slump manager Don Mattingly has decided to fine him $1 each time he flies out to left field.

According to the Dodgers manager Loney will “take a dollar back every time he hits a line drive to left.”

Loney is making $4.9 million this season, so obviously a $1 fine is purely symbolic, but the fact that a first baseman is being urged not to hit fly balls to the outfield shows why the Dodgers should probably be looking for another first baseman.

Even at his best Loney’s lack of power made him a mediocre hitter and because of that he starts dragging the lineup down when he’s not hitting at least .280. Last season Loney hit .267 with just 10 homers and a .723 OPS, which ranked 22nd among the 24 first basemen with at least 500 plate appearances. So far this year he’s hitting .202 with a .471 OPS.

Line drives are a good thing and encouraging Loney to avoid fly balls is a reasonable stance given his lack of power, but the Dodgers would be better off finding a first baseman whose fly balls actually travel over the fence more than 10-15 times a season and with slugging prospect Jerry Sands waiting in the wings that switch may be in the near future.

Blake Wood has a damaged UCL

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Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports that Angels reliever Blake Wood underwent an MRI and was diagnosed with a damaged ulnar collateral ligament. Wood will seek further opinions before a course of treatment is decided. Tommy John surgery is a possibility.

Wood, 32, had been on a rehab assignment with High-A Inland Empire and has been on the disabled list since April 22. Prior to the injury, Wood compiled a 2.31 ERA with a 10/7 K/BB ratio in 11 2/3 innings.

Keynan Middleton recently underwent Tommy John surgery to repair a damaged UCL, so it’s not been a great time to be a member of the Angels’ bullpen.