Between Alex Guerrero swinging a hot bat that led to a larger role and Justin Turner picking up where he left off in 2014, the Los Angeles Dodgers very quickly found themselves with a logjam at third base this season.
While it in part led to Juan Uribe being packaged to the Atlanta Braves as he fell to third on the depth chart at the hot corner in Los Angeles, the trade hasn’t exactly coincided with more playing time for Guerrero at the infield position.
Since the Uribe trade on May 27, Guerrero has started just nine of 18 games played; none of the nine starts have at come third base. Turner has instead received the bulk of them, with Alberto Callspo spelling him for an occasional day of rest.
When asked if the decreased playing time is a result of Guerrero being in Dodgers manager Don Mattingly’s ‘doghouse,’ he denied that to be the case. “No, not at all,” Mattingly said recently. “He’s doing a tremendous job for us off the bench. We like what he’s been able to do.”
The fifth-year manager pointed to the Dodgers’ focus on sending out a strong defensive team as further reason Guerrero is primarily being used as a pinch-hitter. “We want to make sure we play the best possible defense we can possibly play,” he said. “But Alex is going to be a part of our club.”
Guerrero was seen getting additional work at third base in left field over the weekend, and pinch-hit in each of the first two games with the San Francisco Giants thus far. He’s 0-for-2 with one strikeout in the at-bats.
In 29 games as a starter heading into play Sunday, Guerrero is batting .267/.296/.525 with six home runs and 16 RBIs. That’s compared to .350/.381/.850 with three home runs and nine RBIs in 21 games as a pinch-hitter.
With six starts in the month of June, Guerrero’s role as a pinch-hitter may be further cemented by Hector Olivera’s presumed arrival and Carl Crawford’s eventual return from the disabled list. There’s also of course the possibility Guerrero suffers the same fate as Uribe, who Mattingly also once said has a role with the club, in the Dodgers’ effort to address their pitching need.