Coming into Monday night’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Dodger relievers ranked second in MLB in innings pitched. Dominguez is healthy and well-rested. He’s made just five appearances in the last 17 days — three since his last game in a Dodgers uniform April 5. Four days later, the Dodgers optioned Dominguez to Albuquerque when Josh Beckett was activated from the disabled list.
Dominguez has allowed four earned runs in three appearances for the Dodgers this season.
“For the extra arm,” manager Don Mattingly said, asked for the reason behind the move. “We’ve been in that bullpen pretty good so far. We’d like to get that straightened out.”
The move leaves the Dodgers short on middle infielders at the moment. Only Hanley Ramirez, Dee Gordon and Justin Turner have major-league experience at second base or shortstop. So does the starting third baseman, Juan Uribe.
“That’s a temporary thing,” Mattingly said.
The manager didn’t specify that Figgins’ time at Triple-A is temporary. Second baseman Alex Guerrero is batting 11 for 25 (.440) with a .500 on-base percentage and an .800 slugging percentage going into tonight’s game against the Salt Lake Bees.
Guerrero also has one error in 38 chances at second base, a .978 fielding percentage. The Dodgers might choose to give Guerrero more time at Triple-A simply to get time in the field. He only converted from second base to shortstop late last year. In Los Angeles, he’s unlikely to take many innings from Dee Gordon, who leads all regular Dodger players with a .367 batting average and .409 on-base percentage.
The Dodgers signed Guerrero to a four-year, $28 million contract last October. He missed two weeks earlier this month while dealing with a strained oblique muscle.
Figgins made only nine plate appearances in the Dodgers’ first 19 games of the season, collecting one single and three walks. He only played two innings on defense. Mattingly envisioned Figgins as a versatile utility player in spring training, and that’s the role he envisions the 36-year-old playing at Albuquerque.
Why didn’t we see more of Figgins in the majors?
“We’ve had a zillion off-days, for one thing,” Mattingly said. “At the end of the day, I don’t think it’s going to be horrible for Figgy to get 25, 30 at-bats. We saw him get bat speed all the time, and saw the at-bats be (competitive) at-bats.”
A 12-year major league veteran, Figgins had a clause in his contract with the Dodgers that allowed him to be optioned to the minor leagues without his permission. He signed a minor-league deal with the club in January and was added to the 40-man roster prior to the team’s season-opening trip to Australia.