08/18/2009 2:44 PM ET
Loretta: Veteran bench key for Dodgers
NL West leaders have a lot of options in reserve
Our depth and our play off the bench has been an important and real strength for our club this season.
We've had contributions by a lot of guys, which is very important to have over the course of the season. I like that we have guys who can step in and play or pinch-hit when called up, and I am happy to be a part of it.
When it comes to our club's bench this year, no performance stands out more than the job Juan Pierre did while Manny Ramirez was out. He stepped right in, and we didn't miss a beat. He has a different style than Manny, of course, but when you have a guy like Juan on your bench, it shows the depth of this club.
Juan and I are veteran guys. We have other great veterans here with guys like Juan Castro, who has been around a long time, and Brad Ausmus. Doug Mientkiewicz has been hurt a lot this season, but he could be back soon, too.
Brad is a guy I've played with before. Russell Martin is a quality catcher, but to have a quality catcher like Brad backing him up is another good indicator that we have a great roster. He has a wealth of knowledge on the scouting side and he has a great ability to call games. Russell has learned from that this season.
Doug's rehab from shoulder surgery has been grueling. We initially thought he would miss the whole year. His hard work in getting back has been a tribute to his tenacity. We've missed him and his left-handed bat off the bench, but, even while he's been hurt, he's still been with us and supporting us. He is a great teammate, and he has a lot of knowledge when it comes to this game.
I've played for a number of years, and the make-up of this bench is a little different than that of the other clubs I've played for.
Sometimes you have some young guys who are breaking into the league for the first time, and that's a tough role for them. They come from the Minor Leagues, where they play every day, and sometimes it's difficult to adjust to not playing every day or a pinch-hitting role. It takes time and experience to be able to adjust to that.
Some of us veteran guys are happy and in good position to help the guys who are playing every day and who might be younger or less experienced than us.
We've probably been through various situations before and can help based on that experience. We can give them an example here or there, but the young guys who represent our core are pretty mature, and they already have some playoff experience from last year.
All in all, we have a very good mix here.
Veteran Mark Loretta, who was born and raised in Southern California, is in his first season with the Dodgers. As a role player this season, the two-time All-Star has appeared in 85 games, primarily as a pinch-hitter, but he has also spent time at first base, second base, third base and has even pitched to two batters.