Analyzing the Tough N.L. West

A look at the competitive National League West gives a perspective of each team. Major League Baseball's insistence of Interleague Play seems to have overlooked allowing each team a "level playing field" finds the Giants scheduled to meet Baltimore and Toronto and the Dodgers butting heads with Boston and the Yankees.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Three times already this season, the Dodgers have come down with the kind of perfectly timed injuries that start to raise eyebrows.

The first one happened in late April when left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo was ready to come off the disabled list. Right-hander Jeff Weaver came down with a timely back strain.

When the Dodgers wanted to give right-hander John Ely a chance in the rotation, struggling pitcher Charlie Haeger came down with plantar fasciitis. Haeger began a minor league rehab assignment less than a week later.

The latest curious injury came Tuesday when left-hander George Sherrill took his struggles to the 15-day disabled list. Another bad back was blamed. That move allowed the Dodgers to activate Rafael Furcal from the DL.

Without Weaver going on the DL in April, the Dodgers might have had to send Rule 5 selection Carlos Monasterios back to the Phillies. He stayed and has been effective in long relief.

With Ely in the rotation instead of Haeger, the Dodgers have been one of the hottest teams in baseball over the last three weeks.

The move to disable Sherrill allows the Dodgers to keep infielder Nick Green at least for a few more days. Green would have to pass through waivers if he is taken off the roster.

--LHP Clayton Kershaw fell to 4-3, despite lowering his ERA to 2.90. He struck out four, walked two and allowed one unearned run and four hits in six innings.

--SS Rafael Furcal was reinstated from the disabled list after spending just short of a month healing from a strained left hamstring. Furcal resumed his leadoff spot for Tuesday's series opener against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. SS Jamey Carroll helped the Dodges to a 17-8 record while Furcal was out. In his first game back, Furcal went 0-for-4 and made two key errors.

--LHP George Sherrill was placed on the 15-day disabled list with mid-back tightness. The move opened a roster spot for SS Rafael Furcal to come off the DL. Sherrill had struggled this season to the tune of a 7.36 ERA in 22 appearances. The DL move leaves the Dodgers with an 11-man pitching staff for the time being.

--RHP Ramon Troncoso continued his struggles, allowing a two-run homer to Derrek Lee in the eighth inning. Troncoso's ERA was 3.21 on May 1, but it has ballooned to 5.24 with a series of poor performances.

--1B James Loney is on pace for 103 RBI after delivering 90 in back-to-back seasons. Since April 30, Loney's 21 RBI are tied for the most in the National League. Loney's RBI totals come despite the fact that he has driven in just one run over his past five games. In his last six games, he has batted just .200 (4-for-20).

--RF Andre Ethier, on the disabled list with a broken right pinkie finger, is fourth among National League outfielders in All-Star voting that was released Tuesday. Ethier was still tied for second in home runs in the NL with 11 and was second in RBI with 38 despite being on the DL since May 15. His isn't expected to be out long after he is eligible to return to the roster May 30. He is with the Dodgers on their six-game trip.

BY THE NUMBERS: 8 -- Combined earned runs given up by RHP Ramon Ortiz in consecutive spot starts while covering for injured RHP Vicente Padilla. When Ortiz took the loss May 19 against the Padres it ended the Dodgers' nine-game win streak. The shaky outings prompted the Dodgers to skip that spot in the rotation this week.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "The success we're having is breeding that confidence you need to have and that inner conceit I like to call it. You're a little more daring and I think I'm finding that out now and they're finding that out about themselves." -- Manager Joe Torre, after the Dodgers put together a nine-game win streak that ended last week.

--SS Rafael Furcal (left hamstring strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 28. He began a rehab assignment with Class A Inland Empire on May 11, and he was expected to be activated May 14, but that was pushed back as a precaution. He played a game in extended spring training May 22, and he was activated May 25.

--LHP George Sherrill (mid-back strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 24.

--OF Andre Ethier (broken bone in right pinkie finger) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 15. He started taking swings off a tee May 22.

--RHP Charlie Haeger (sore right heel) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 9. He began a rehab assignment with Class A Inland Empire on May 15.

--RHP Vicente Padilla (right forearm nerve irritation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 23. He is expected to return sometime in June.

--RHP Cory Wade (right shoulder surgery in March 2010) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 26, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 4. He is expected to be out until at least late June.

--C Brad Ausmus (bulging disk in back) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 9, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on April 28. He had surgery April 15, and he is expected to be out until at least mid-July.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Closer Chad Qualls has found his groove, and the Diamondbacks bullpen is getting back in order.

Qualls converted three save opportunities in as many games late last week, giving him nine saves for the year, and he has given up earned runs in only one of his nine May appearances after he and the rest of the bullpen had a rocky start.

"This game will humble you in a second. If you don't have confidence and believe in yourself, nobody will," said Qualls, 0-2 with a 6.32 ERA. "You know it is going to turn around. Sometimes you have to wait for it. Then some day, everything just starts to click. The only way to get through it is to work through it."

Qualls recorded one-out saves against San Francisco and Toronto on Thursday and Friday, respectively, before pitching a scoreless inning Saturday.

"He's pitching to the strike zone a lot better. He's being a little more aggressive," manager A.J. Hinch said. "It's a tough job. You have to have a short memory on a nightly basis. He's pretty good about having a short-term memory."

The only time Qualls gave up an earned run this month was May 14 in Atlanta, when the Braves put together a two-run rally on a single, a bunt single off the plate, a sacrifice bunt, an intentional walk and a flared single for a walk-off win.

"It's easier when you go back and look at the pitches and realize it wasn't a good pitch," Qualls said. "When they do hit a good pitch, that makes it tougher. But you feel like you made a good pitch and the outcome just wasn't what you wanted."

--RHP Brandon Webb, still working to return from the shoulder debridement surgery he had last August, will continue his rehab program at the Birmingham, Ala., clinic of noted specialist James Andrews, although Andrews did not perform the surgery. After comparing video, it was determined that Webb's arm angle is appreciably higher than it was before the operation. Webb has not thrown off a mound since the first week of March in spring training. His only start last season came on Opening Day.

--LF Conor Jackson doubled in his sixth straight game Tuesday, driving in the D-backs' first run with a drive to right-center field in the sixth inning. Jackson has eight doubles in his last nine games while using the whole field -- left field corner, left-center, dead center and right-center.

--2B/OF Ryan Roberts went right to work after being recalled from Class AAA Reno on Tuesday, grounding out as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning. Roberts pinch-hit for PH Gerardo Parra after the Rockies made a pitching change when Parra was announced, bringing in LHP Joe Beimel for RHP Matt Belisle. Roberts was hitting .275 with three homers and 26 RBI in 43 games at Reno after being the final position player optioned to the minors when Opening Day rosters were set this spring. Roberts, 29, spent most of 2009 with the D-backs, where he hit .279 with seven homers, 25 RBI and seven stolen bases in 110 games.

--INF Tony Abreu was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained left wrist. Abreu, hitting .313, suffered his injury when Toronto C Jose Molina slid into him on a tag play at second base in the fifth inning of the D-backs' 12-4 loss Sunday. A switch hitter, Abreu has made starts at second base, shortstop and third base this season, mostly as a right-handed-hitting alternative to lefties 2B Kelly Johnson and SS Stephen Drew. He is hitting .345 against left-handers.

--RHP Kris Benson gave up seven hits and six runs in two innings of his first rehab start for Class AAA Reno on Monday in Albuquerque. He gave up home runs to the third and fourth batters he faced. "He fought a little bit of rust and didn't feel like he could let it go," manager A.J. Hinch said. Benson, on the disabled list since April 29 with a shoulder strain, threw 56 pitches did not get a decision in a 9-8, 11-inning loss. He is to start again for Reno on Sunday.

--RHP Blaine Boyer, designated for assignment when the D-backs made bullpen changes last week, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Class AAA Reno. He was charged with a blown save when he gave up a run in the eighth inning of RHP Kris Benson's rehab start Monday.

BY THE NUMBERS: 4 -- Consecutive games in which the D-backs scored at least eight runs last week, tying a franchise record for the second-longest such streak. They scored at least in seven straight games in 1999, when they won the NL West.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're playing better baseball. We've got our confidence back a little bit." -- D-backs manager A.J. Hinch, after a 4-1 homestand.

--INF Tony Abreu (sprained left wrist) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 24.

--RHP Kris Benson (right shoulder strain) went on the 15-day disabled list April 29. An MRI showed no structural damage, and he resumed throwing in early May. He began a rehab assignment with Class AAA Reno on May 24, and he is scheduled to start for Reno again May 30.

--C Miguel Montero (torn meniscus in right knee) went on the 15-day disabled list April 11. He had surgery April 15. He will catch a bullpen session May 25, and he might be able to start a rehab assignment in early June.

--RHP Leo Rosales (right foot stress fracture) went on the 15-day disabled list April 29, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 2. He had surgery May 4, and he is aiming to return in early July.

--RHP Brandon Webb (right shoulder surgery in August 2009) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 26, and he was moved to the 60-day DL on April 17. As of late May, he was taking his rehab program to Dr. James Andrews' clinic. However, it remained unclear when he might be ready to return

Colorado Rockies

Catcher Chris Iannetta was recalled from Class AAA Colorado Springs on Tuesday, with the Rockies satisfied he made the improvements they deemed necessary when he was optioned April 26.

To make room for Iannetta, catcher Paul Phillips was designated for assignment.

When he was demoted, Iannetta was hitting .133 (4-for-30) in eight games with two homers, two RBI and 11 strikeouts. He was playing sparingly, as Miguel Olivo had gotten hot.

In 17 games at Colorado Springs, Iannetta hit .349 (22-for-63) with five homers and 21 RBI, 10 walks, 10 strikeouts, a .447 on-base percentage and a .698 slugging percentage.

When the Rockies signed Iannetta to a three-year, $8.35 million contract over the winter, they didn't envision him spending a month in the Pacific Coast League. But manager Jim Tracy said Iannetta had become "confused" offensively, and with Olivo collecting five homers and 10 RBI in his first 45 at-bats, the decision was made to let Iannetta regain his stroke and his confidence at Colorado Springs.

"The message that gets sent by recalling him is that it's not punishment," Tracy said. "It's an opportunity for you to go and get into a different arena and get some things sorted out, which obviously offensively and defensively it's apparent that all that has taken place."

The Rockies are hoping Phillips won't be claimed off waivers so they can return him to Colorado Springs. The Rockies went 4-0 when he started and are 12-4 with him behind the plate dating back to last year. In six games this season, Phillips hit .294 (5-for-17) with one RBI.

Jhoulys Chacin held the Diamondbacks scoreless for five innings before giving up two runs in the sixth, his final inning. Kelly Johnson led off with a single, Conor Jackson followed with a run-scoring double, and two groundball outs got Jackson home.

Matt Belisle, Joe Beimel and Manuel Corpas each pitched one scoreless inning, with Corpas earning his fourth save in four opportunities.

--2B Kazuo Matsui was signed to a minor league contract after he was released by the Astros. He hit .141 (10-for-71) in 27 games with Houston this year. The Rockies will send Matsui, 34, to Class AAA Colorado Springs to determine whether he can still play in the big leagues.

It's reminiscent of 2006, when the Rockies acquired Matsui in a trade with the Mets and sent him to Class AAA to play before promoting him. Matsui, who has had back issues, helped the Rockies reach the World Series in 2007.

--2B Clint Barmes is hitting .215 with three homers, 20 RBI and a .266 on-base percentage.

--LHP Joe Beimel extended his scoreless streak to 15 2/3 innings over 19 games by retiring the side in order on six pitches in the eighth. Beimel has not been scored upon since his first appearance of the year April 16 at Atlanta, when he gave up a home run to Chipper Jones.

--SS Troy Tulowitzki's homer in the third inning extended his season-high hitting streak to nine games, three shy of his career high set in 2007. The home run was his first this season at Coors Field and his third in three games and fourth in the past five games.

--1B Todd Helton had his second three-hit game of the season, going 3-for-4 with three singles. It was just his third multi-hit game this season at Coors Field, and the three hits are a season high for a home game.

--RHP Ubaldo Jimenez, who is scheduled to make his 10th start Wednesday, is 8-1 with a 0.99 ERA. This will be just the fourth start at home for Jimenez this season. He's 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA in three home starts and 5-1 with a 0.62 ERA in six starts on the road.

--LHP Tyler Matzek, 19, who received a franchise-record, $3.9 million signing bonus after being taken 11th overall in the draft last year, made his professional debut Monday with low Class A Asheville. In five scoreless innings, Matzek allowed one hit with four walks and five strikeouts while throwing 81 pitches and touching 98 mph with his fastball.

--1B Jason Giambi's three-run homer Sunday off Royals ace Zack Greinke was the fourth Giambi has hit off the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Giambi's four homers are the most by any player against Greinke, breaking a tie with Jermaine Dye and Carlos Quentin.

Giambi entered Sunday's game tied with Mike Piazza for 84th place all time in RBI. The four runs Giambi drove in enabled him to move up to 82nd place with 1,339 RBI, passing Piazza (1,335) and Hall of Famer Johnny Mize (1,337) and putting him two RBI from 81st place, held by Gary Gaetti (1,341).

--The Rockies have homered in seven straight games, their second-longest streak this year. They began the season by hitting at least one homer in eight consecutive games from April 5-14.

BY THE NUMBERS: 6 -- Shutouts for the Rockies pitchers in their first 43 games this season, including two in three games May 20-22. Last year, the Rockies blanked their opponents seven times.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I have pitched like that before, too. I was playing Nintendo." -- LHP Jeff Francis, after RHP Ubaldo Jimenez held the Astros to one infield hit and got 14 groundball outs in seven innings May 20 to improve to 8-1 with a 0.99 ERA.

--OF Carlos Gonzalez (sore left wrist) did not play May 21-23. He appeared as a defensive replacement May 25.

--2B/OF Eric Young Jr. (stress fracture in right tibia) went on the 15-day disabled list May 15. He was pain-free as of May 24, but he was awaiting further tests before determining the next step in his rehab.

--RHP Huston Street (right shoulder inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 26. He began a rehab assignment with Class AA Tulsa on May 13. He left the mound with a strained right groin during his May 15 appearance with Tulsa, likely pushing his return to the majors into June.

--RHP Taylor Buchholz (Tommy John surgery in June 2009) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 26, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on April 16. He began a minor league rehab assignment May 5.

--LHP Franklin Morales (left shoulder inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 6. He threw a bullpen session May 18, and he was next headed to extended spring training to continue his throwing program.

--LHP Jorge De La Rosa (torn flexor tendon band in left middle finger) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 26.

--RHP Greg Reynolds (bruised right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 26, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on April 27. He began a rehab assignment with Class A Modesto on May 8, but he experienced elbow irritation during a May 18 start for Class AA Tulsa, delaying his recovery.

San Diego Padres

This will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever swung a bat in the place, but Petco Park in San Diego is a pitcher's park.

"The last couple of years, I have prided myself on going the other way," Padres right-handed hitter Jerry Hairston Jr. said Tuesday night. "But that tactic kills me here.

"You drive a ball to right-center here and nothing happens." Which is why pitchers happily call right-center at Petco Park "Death Valley" -- particularly during the spring and early summer when the evening marine layer serves as an invisible wall.

"As a catcher, I love this place," Yorvit Torrealba said. "As a hitter, I don't let it drive me crazy because I'm a catcher."

Petco Park smiled again on pitching Tuesday as the Padres defeated Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals 1-0. The win was San Diego's ninth shutout of the season, with six coming at Petco Park, where the Padres' staff ERA for 22 games is 2.20.

The Padres lead the major leagues in both shutouts and wins when they score two of fewer runs. Tuesday was the fifth such win this season and the Padres' 56th since the start of the 2006 season -- which is 15 more than any other team in the major leagues has.

Padre starters are 8-4 with a 1.77 ERA over the last 19 games at Petco Park.

--RHP Jon Garland blanked the Cardinals on six hits and two walks over seven innings Tuesday. Garland is 6-0 with a 1.44 ERA in his last eight starts, and the Padres are 7-1 in those games. Garland is 3-0 with a 0.84 ERA in five starts this season at Petco Park.

--RHP Heath Bell has not allowed an earned run over his last 15 outings. He picked up his 13th save in 15 opportunities Tuesday night while lowering his ERA to 0.90.

--1B Adrian Gonzalez struck out all four at-bats Tuesday night. It marked only the third time in his career that he has struck out four times in a game, and the first time since Aug. 12, 2006. Gonzalez previously had three three-strikeout games this season.

--SS Jerry Hairston won Tuesday's game with a second-inning solo homer, his first as a Padre. Hairston had two of the Padres' four hits off Adam Wainwright and is 11-for-34 since May 11 to raise his average from .204 to .235.

--C Yorvit Torrealba went 1-for-3 and stole his third base of the season Tuesday night against the best arm in the game (Yadier Molina).

BY THE NUMBERS: .220/.327 -- The respective collective batting average and on-base percentage of all Padres designated hitters in American League parks since the start of interleague play in 1997. 16 -- Homers by Padres DHs in 14 seasons, the most recent being Matt Stairs blast Saturday night in Seattle. 54 -- Both the number of runs scored and RBI by Padres DHs.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "If you were to tell me that there'd be 23 runs on 30 hits in this game with (Cliff) Lee and (Wade) LeBlanc pitching, I'd say no way. -- Padres manager Bud Black.

--LF Kyle Blanks (strained right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 18.

--OF Scott Hairston (strained left hamstring) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 16.

--RHP Tim Stauffer (appendectomy) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 10. He could return in mid- to late June.

--RHP Sean Gallagher (sprained toe on left foot) went on the 15-day disabled list May 4. He began a rehab assignment with Class AAA Portland on May 12.

--RHP Chris Young (right shoulder tightness) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 7, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 17. He was shut down after struggling in a rehab start for Class AA San Antonio on May 2. He will be re-evaluated in late May.

--2B Matt Antonelli (left hand surgery in April 2010) was recalled from the minors and placed on the 60-day disabled list April 30. He might be ready to return as soon as he's eligible.

San Francisco Giants

With the Giants losing five straight games and hardly scoring any runs, manager Bruce Bochy scribbled a much different lineup for Tuesday night's series opener with the Nationals.

The biggest difference was Aubrey Huff moving from first base to left field.

The move was prompted by shortstop Edgar Renteria's return from the disabled list. In a game of musical chairs, Juan Uribe moved from short to third base, Pablo Sandoval from third to first, and Huff from first to left.

The Giants responded with a 4-2 victory, in the process ending their scoreless streak at 24 innings. However, Renteria got hurt again, pulling his right hamstring, and he might be returning to the DL.

Renteria said he got hurt running to first after a seventh-inning bunt. It was just his third game since being activated.

"Unbelievable. I don't know what I'm going to say," Renteria said. "I felt good before the game. We had to push it. We're trying to win games. Then I pull my hamstring. I don't know, man."

Once Renteria exited the game, the defense had a more familiar look. Uribe was back at short. Sandoval returned to third. Travis Ishikawa played first.

--1B Aubrey Huff played left field Tuesday for the first time since 2004. He had played eight games (seven starts) in left, and all came that year. But manager Bruce Bochy tweaked the lineup to make sure INF Juan Uribe would be in it, so Huff played left willingly. In fact, the first batter of the game, Nyjer Morgan, hit a ball to Huff, who caught it without a hassle.

--RHP Todd Wellemeyer, who nearly got skipped in the rotation, made the Giants look smart by pitching him Tuesday. He got credit for a 3-1 win and began a four-run rally with a two-out single in the fifth inning. No doubt he'll get another start, especially because it would come at home, where Wellemeyer does his best work.

--SS Edgar Renteria pulled his right hamstring in his third game since coming off the disabled list. He was forced out of the contest and may go back on the DL. It was Renteria whose RBI single broke the Giants' scoreless streak of 24 innings. He was to have an MRI to determine the severity of the hamstring injury. Renteria had missed 14 games with a right groin strain.

--RF Andres Torres, the Giants' new leadoff hitter (he took over for CF Aaron Rowand), collected three hits, including a double.

Manager Bruce Bochy said Torres would remain at leadoff for the time being, hoping the offense finally will come alive.

Unlike most Giants, Torres isn't struggling in May. He's hitting .328 in the month and nine runs and four steals in 20 games. --LF Mark DeRosa has a scheduled flight to Baltimore on Thursday to meet with a wrist specialist. It's not yet known if DeRosa will undergo surgery -- and if so, when. He'd like to return to the Giants this year, and he's aiming to start a minor league rehab assignment as soon as he returns to California.

BY THE NUMBERS: 0-3 -- Barry Zito's record in four starts against the A's, the only big-league team he hasn't beaten. His ERA is 8.85 in those games. Zito played for the A's until joining the Giants for seven years and $126 million.