NEW YORK -- Strikeouts are for good causes.
That's the bottom line to a pair of promotions keyed around strikeouts for pitchers in general and, with him scheduled to start Tuesday night against the Mets, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw specifically.
The Dodgers' strikeout leader has his own fundraising pledge, "Kershaw's Challenge," in which he donates $500 for every one of his strikeouts, and his new sponsor, Muscle Milk, adds $100 for every strikeout.
In addition, Major League Baseball and Head & Shoulders have introduced the "Season of the Whiff." For every 2013 regular-season MLB strikeout, Head & Shoulders will make a $1 donation to the MLB Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) national program.
Fans are encouraged to join Kershaw's fundraising effort at www.kershawschallenge.com, as well as participate in the "Season of the Whiff" campaign. For the latter, when a pitcher from your MLB club strikes out an opposing batter, tweet: #Whiff + @ pitcher's MLB Club (i.e. #Whiff @Dodgers).
Hairston starts at third base as Cruz sits
NEW YORK -- For the second consecutive game, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly had Jerry Hairston starting at third base and Luis Cruz on the bench.
Mattingly said he still considers the 36-year-old Hairston a "four-days-a-week" player, "or you end up hurting him." Mattingly believes overplaying Hairston last year contributed to the torn labrum surgery Hairston needed in September.
"I just want to get his bat in the lineup," Mattingly said. "He knows what he's doing at the plate. He has good at-bats against righties and lefties. He can hit anywhere in the lineup."
In Tuesday's lineup, Mattingly returned Matt Kemp to the third slot, followed by Adrian Gonzalez at cleanup, then Hairston fifth and Andre Ethier sixth against left-hander Jon Niese.
But nowhere in the lineup was Cruz, whose nightmare start (.087) is fueling skeptics that didn't buy into his .297 second half last year.
"He's done it once, he can do it again," said Mattingly. "I don't think they're pitching him differently. I think he's just lost confidence. There's stuff going on with his lower half -- it's off before the swing is coming -- that's why you're seeing so many popups."
Cruz is out of options, so if the Dodgers try to send him to the Minor Leagues, he can be claimed by another club. Mattingly said Cruz is working on his mechanical flaw so he can "get back in the mix."
"Without being harsh," said Mattingly, "it's a production business. You've got to be doing something."
Homerless Kemp showing signs of breaking out
NEW YORK -- Matt Kemp had a pair of three-hit games over the weekend in Baltimore, but he still hasn't hit a homer.
Manager Don Mattingly still thinks it's bad habits, and not a lingering health issue from the shoulder surgery he had at the end of last season.
"If anything, it's probably bad habits from playing hurt," Mattingly said. "We found out it was worse than we thought. I think Matt is healthy. He keeps working on his swing to get back on track. He showed a little life in Baltimore.
"I'd worry about Matt if he wasn't working in the cage every day. He was out early again today. We'll get it worked out and it'll take off."
Dodgers to use eight starting pitchers in first 20 games
NEW YORK -- It's not like it's been a half-century since the Dodgers used eight starting pitchers in the first 20 games of a season.
Actually, it's only been 49 years.
So when Ted Lilly takes the mound Wednesday against the Mets, it will mark the first time the Dodgers have used eight different starters in their first 20 games since 1964.
The list that year (according to the Elias Sports Bureau): Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Bob Miller, Pete Richert, Nick Willhite, Joe Moeller, Johnny Podres and Phil Ortega. And the Dodgers raced through those eight in only 12 games. The Dodgers finished tied for sixth that season.
The list this year: Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Josh Beckett, Chad Billingsley, Chris Capuano, Stephen Fife and Lilly.
"Most years you need eight to 10 starters at some point," said manager Don Mattingly. "I wouldn't think you'd need them in the first 20 days. ... It happened pretty quick."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.