The tale of Juan Uribe in Los Angeles is one of redemption after the third baseman had one of the worst two-season stretches of any Dodger and followed that with a series-clinching home run in 2013 and one of the best seasons of his career in 2014.
Uribe entered the season in the final year of a two-year deal and as the team’s starting third baseman. However, the 36-year-old got off to a slow start that coincided with an incredibly hot start by Alex Guerrero and the continued efforts of Justin Turner. While Uribe raised his batting average to .278 with a 13-game hitting streak, he found himself in the lineup less often than before. Since May 5, he’s started just twice and it appears Don Mattingly has removed the starting tag from his name.
According to Mark Saxon of ESPN LA, manager Don Mattingly feels for Uribe, but is doing what he has to do:
Personally, you don’t want to not be playing a guy as much as he’s helped you in the past, but at the same time you can’t really deny what Justin and Alex are doing,” Mattingly said.
As a collective whole, the Dodgers third basemen are hitting .336 and slugging .580, both tops in the Majors. Uribe has one home run, two doubles and six RBIs, while the other two have combined for 11 home runs, seven doubles and 27 RBIs. The veteran third baseman still provides above-average defense, but Turner and Guerrero have held their own at the position so far.
Uribe understands the change in the everyday lineup, but as a player in the last year of his deal, he wants to be on the field to aid in his future as well:
I have to play so other teams can see I can still play,” Uribe said. “But I know I can play. I want to win. They have to put the best lineup they have, so I understand it. I’m just staying ready and trying to help my team.”
With the Dodgers off to a 21-10 start and looking to get past their postseason woes, Uribe should be smart enough to embrace the role for the greater good of the team.
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