One month ago, the Dodgers were riding a seven-game losing streak during which they scored a total of five runs. Juan Rivera, James Loney and Scott Van Slyke were the 3-4-5 hitters one day; Jerry Hairston Jr., Bobby Abreu and A.J. Ellis the next.
When the Dodgers host the Arizona Diamondbacks today, they can pencil Shane Victorino into the leadoff slot, followed by Mark Ellis, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Hanley Ramirez, Rivera or Loney, Luis Cruz and A.J. Ellis -- a dream scenario back when injuries and ineffectiveness had dealt the Dodgers one of baseball's weakest offenses.
"When we struggled this year," general manager Ned Colletti said, "it wasn't in pitching where we struggled."
So Colletti and the Dodgers had plenty of reasons to be happy with a trade-deadline haul that includes Ramirez, Victorino, and relief pitchers Randy Choate and Brandon League -- even if that haul didn't include coveted starting pitcher Ryan Dempster, whom the Chicago Cubs traded to the Texas Rangers shortly before Tuesday's 1 p.m. deadline.
Victorino was the final acquisition, leaving the Philadelphia Phillies after eight seasons in exchange for reliever Josh Lindblom, Double-A pitcher Ethan Martin, and a player to be named later or "cash considerations."
The Phillies are in Washington to play the Nationals, so Victorino didn't arrive in time for Tuesday's game. He is expected to lead off and play left field today when the Dodgers host the
Diamondbacks at noon.
"He was honestly thrilled," Colletti said of Victorino. "He said, 'Don't take this the wrong way, I had a great time in Philly and a lot of great memories in Philadelphia, but I'm thrilled to be back.'
"A couple weeks ago when (the Phillies) were playing here, (Victorino) said he thought how cool it would be if he could ever come back here."
The 31-year-old outfielder is hitting .346 against the Dodgers this season and .255 against the rest of the league, with nine homers, 40 RBIs and 24 stolen bases in 28 attempts. Victorino is on a 14-for-37 (.378) tear since July 18 that's raised his overall batting average to .261. He becomes a free agent at the end of the season.
"Shane's a switch hitter with speed, postseason experience, guy's played down the stretch in big series," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "He's been a thorn in our side since I've been out here. If you can get a guy like that, that's a top priority."
Originally selected by the Dodgers in the sixth round of the 1999 draft, Victorino was lost to San Diego (2002) and then Philadelphia (2004) in the Rule 5 Draft.
The Dodgers designated Triple-A pitcher Michael Antonini for assignment to make room for Victorino on the 40-man roster, and must clear one more spot today to get Victorino on the active roster.
Juan Uribe, who has a .196 batting average and one at-bat since July 22, could be designated for assignment, while Abreu and Tony Gwynn Jr. will at least see their roles as reserve outfielders diminish.
Shortstop Luis Cruz and reliever Shawn Tolleson have been playing more integral roles lately, but both could be optioned to the minors.
Rivera, who had been splitting time between left field and first base, will now primarily platoon with Loney at first, depending on matchups.
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