On two separate occasions this season, the scoreboard has dictated that the Los Angeles Dodgers make a few unconventional decisions. One such change has been using catcher Drew Butera as a relief pitcher so as not to unnecessarily tax the bullpen.
On Sunday, with the Dodgers trailing the New York Mets by eight runs, infielder Miguel Rojas entered the game in the left field as part of a double switch; it was the first time Rojas, a rookie, played in a Major League outfield.
Manager Don Mattingly explained the decision to place Rojas in left had to do with an eye on the future, according to the LA Daily News’ J.P. Hoornstra:
We’ve been talking about Miguel taking some fly balls here and there, kind of like Andre taking balls at first base,” Mattingly said. “You give him a couple innings game experience in that situation. That’s more possibly for him long-term. We have two or three guys (who can play left field). It’s probably not going to be that case, but it gives him a chance to get more experience under his belt and create some more value for himself.”
Rojas didn’t have any balls hit in his direction after entering the game. His ability to play multiple infield positions has been invaluable to the Dodgers thus far, who have been under siege by injuries. In 61 games with the Dodgers, Rojas has logged time at shortstop, second and third base.
During his time in the Cincinnati Reds Minor League system, Rojas played center field in 2010. Along with the three outfielders on the active roster who are capable of playing in left, promotions in September when rosters expand may add to the logjam.
Alex Guerrero and Joc Pederson are expected to be among the call-ups and both have played in left field for the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate.
While Rojas may eventually add left fielder to his résumé, he’s carved out a role as a defense-first infielder for the Dodgers, who’s helped save Clayton Kershaw’s no-hitter and dazzled with other diving stops.
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