When injuries clouded the Dodgers' third base picture early this season, the 22-year-old DeWitt got his chance and has been making the most of it. That fact was acknowledged on Wednesday when DeWitt was selected as Gillette's Rookie of the Month winner for May in the National League.
DeWitt will receive a Rookie of the Month trophy and Gillette will make a $5,000 donation to a charitable organization in DeWitt's name. The award comes after DeWitt hit .322 in May with five homers and 18 RBIs. He was selected over NL nominees Joey Votto of Cincinnati, Geovany Soto of the Cubs and Manny Acosta of the Braves.
Thanks in large part to DeWitt, the Dodgers are within striking distance of Arizona in the NL West. Besides his efficient work at the plate, DeWitt has also provided defensive stability. Some rookies blink when thrust into the glare of the spotlight, but not DeWitt.
Dodgers manager Joe Torre has referred to DeWitt as "a godsend" when reflecting on how much DeWitt has done to solve the dilemma at third base.
"The kid has the ability to use the whole field and that's his biggest advantage," Torre said.
Perhaps the signature performance for DeWitt during his award-winning month came on May 19. In a 6-5 victory over the Reds at Dodger Stadium, DeWitt had four hits and produced a game-winning RBI single in the ninth.
"You have to visualize yourself in those situations and be confident and stay with what you do," DeWitt said.
The five homers during May provided evidence that DeWitt can showcase power when he is presented with a pitch to drive.
"I know the power is definitely there," DeWitt said. "I just need to be more consistent with my swing, shorter and not longer. ... I know what I can do. I know it's there."
DeWitt beat out some NL rookies who also used May as a springboard for what they hope will be a robust 2008 season.
Votto hit .281 with six homers and 16 RBIs for the month. Three of those homers came against the Cubs on May 7. Soto hit .271 with four homers and 18 RBIs for the surging Cubs and Acosta posted a 3-1 record and 1.80 earned run average coming out of the Atlanta bullpen.
The online fan voting at mlb.com/gillette represented 20 percent of the overall vote, with the remaining votes coming from team baseball writers and club broadcasters.
Voters taking part in the monthly award process are automatically registered for a chance to go to the All-Star Game on July 15 at Yankee Stadium or to one game during the World Series this October.
The American League winner for May was Cleveland pitcher Aaron Laffey, who went 3-2 with an 0.79 earned run average. Laffey got the nod over fellow nominees David Murphy of Texas, Jacoby Ellsbury of Boston and Evan Longoria of Tampa Bay.
Voting for June's recipient of the AL Rookie of the Month presented by Gillette will begin on July 3 at www.mlb.com/gillette. Fans who cast their vote will automatically be entered for a chance to win a trip to the 2008 All-Star Game on July 15 at Yankee Stadium. The site lists nominees in both leagues as well as unique statistics, video clips and season-long editorial content.
Robert Falkoff is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.