Mattingly considering time in left field for hot-hitting player
By Alex Espinoza
Special to MLB.com |
SAN FRANCISCO -- Alex Guerrero has packed quite a punch for the Dodgers lineup in his limited opportunities so far this season. With Wednesday night's pinch-hit, two-run blast off Madison Bumgarner, Guerrero pushed his home run total to three and his RBI count to 11 despite having just 16 at-bats.
Thursday marked the third start of the year for Guerrero and his first since April 13, as he has essentially been an expensive pinch-hitter for the Dodgers. He's been a good one, though, going 3-for-7 with two homers and five RBIs in that role.
Guerrero wasted no time capitalizing on his start Thursday, bashing a solo homer in the second inning off Ryan Vogelsong. He went 2-for-3 in the Dodgers' 3-2 walk-off loss to boost his batting average to .474.
"Just watching his BP now, he shoots the ball to right field and hits it where it's supposed to be hit in BP," Mattingly said before the game. "Last year he had to force that."
Mattingly added that last season was a big transition for Guerrero, who only appeared in 11 games with the Dodgers after defecting from Cuba and signing a four-year, $28 million deal.
There are big questions about Guerrero's defensive ability at the Major League level, and he hasn't been able to supplant Juan Uribe as the team's regular starting third baseman. Los Angeles added shortstop Jimmy Rollins and second baseman Howie Kendrick via free agency this year, leaving Guerrero as a bench player.
Mattingly said he has also considered playing Guerrero in left field against left-handed starters. And though the 28-year-old hasn't approached Mattingly directly about more playing time, the skipper said Guerrero has posed some questions to assistant hitting coach John Valentin.
"[He] has a little bit, probably, some trouble understanding all of it, which is fine," Mattingly said. "It's like everybody, anybody who's not playing, you want them to want to play."
But the skipper doesn't sound like he's caught up in Guerrero's hot streak. Asked if he has thought about starting Guerrero at third before using Uribe as a late-inning sub, Mattingly was quick to bring up Justin Turner's name.
"I know the people are chanting for Alex right now," Mattingly said, "but there's other guys, too, that probably have swung the bat better. From the standpoint of ... J.T. hits .340 last year, leads the league in hitting, basically. Now, because he's not the flavor of the day, we start talking about someone else. That's where we can't get involved with what happened over a 10-day period."
• Mattingly said catcher A.J. Ellis was available to play Thursday after being hit by a pitch on his right hand during Wednesday night's 3-2 loss
• The Dodgers officially called up Mike Bolsinger to start Thursday's contest while sending Chris Heisey back to Triple-A Oklahoma City after a one-day cameo against Bumgarner and the Giants.
Alex Espinoza is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.