Puig and Uribe’s struggles land them on the bench

Phoenix – The Dodgers shake up of their starting line up Saturday was partially intended to get Andre Ethier and Justin Turner some at bats.

But it’s hard to ignore the guys sent to the bench just happen to be mired in slumps to start the season. Turner was at third base in place of Juan Uribe, who is hitting just .231 with a .286 on-base percentage and a .231 slugging percentage.

Meanwhile, Ethier was in right field replacing Yasiel Puig, who is hitting .083 with a .211 on-base percentage and a .176 slugging percentage.

Uribe has 3 hits in 13 at bats without a extra-base hit or RBI and Puig has just 2 hits in 17 at-bats with a double and one RBI.

It’s early, but those kinds of numbers usually gets you a day off to get your head cleared, although Dodgers manager Don Mattingly insisted the move was as much about getting other guys involved as it was giving Puig and Uribe a chance to collect themselves.

“Just really working (Turner) in and working Andre in. Been planning it for a couple days,” Mattingly said. “(Uribe) knew before the (Friday’s) game, I kind of waited on Yasiel. I kinda thought it was him but, if he had thrown up three or four (hits) yesterday, got his momentum going in the other direction I probably would have waited.
“But just watching him yesterday I felt it was the right day to get him a breather. And with the day game tomorrow we wanted to make sure we had the right guys out there tomorrow.”

Puig did manage a hard-hit line-drive single in Friday’s game, but it wasn’t enough to keep him in the lineup on Saturday.

If nothing else, Mattingly doesn’t want Puig’s struggles getting the best of him early in the season.
“He’s just getting more frustrated it seems like, as it goes along. I just don’t want him to get there, honestly,” Mattingly said. “It’s like anybody else that’s searching for that feel right now. And that changes on any at bat. That’s why I’m glad he got a hit yesterday.”

Mattingly doesn’t sound worried Puig will eventually break out.

“He’s getting some pitches to hit. He’s fouled some balls back. He’s had some good swings he hasn’t gotten a hit on too.,” Mattingly said. “I don’t think it has anything to do with the pitching it’s more like how he’s feeling. When he gets going it’s not gonna matter.

“I just think getting the feel. ‘m not really worried about patience. Once Yasiel starts getting that feel then he’ll be on a roll.”

Another Cuban on Dodgers’ horizon?

The Dodgers might not be done turning to Cuba to bring in reinforcements.

After signing Cuban third baseman Hector Olivera recently for $62.5 million over six years, and adding him to previous Cuban imports in pitcher Onelki Garcia, second baseman Alex Guerrero and outfielder Yasiel Puig, there is growing belief they are now targeting hard-throwing Cuban right-hander Yadier Alvarez.

According to a report by Jon Heyman of cbssports.com, the Dodgers have extensively scouted Alvarez, with team president Andrew Friedman traveling to see him in the Dominican Republic, where Alvarez has established residency.

According to Heyman’s report, Alvarez, throws 94-97 mph but has hit 99. Alvarez is petitioning MLB to allow him to sign in this signing period rather than wait until July 2, although there is no word yet on whether his petition will be approved.

If it is, the Dodgers might soon be adding a young arm to their organization. According to a recent story by Yahoo Sports, Alvarez is a 6-foot-3, 175-pound 18-year-old who burst onto the international prospect scene upon blowing scouts away in the Dominican Republic.

The Dodgers, it seems, have taken notice.

Mattingly can relate to Gonzalez home run streak

Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez took a 3-game home run streak into Friday’s game against the Diamondbacks – five if you count the last two games of last season.

Mattingly can relate, having gone a Major League tying eight-straight games hitting a home run in 1987.

“It’s pretty good. It wasn’t bad,” Mattingly said, recollecting his hot streak. “Didn’t hate it.”
What he remembers most was how bad he was swinging the bat just before getting hot.

“I was really struggling before that started,” Mattingly said. “They brought (Bobby) Murcer in just to talk about things. He just said, ‘hey just try this little simple thing.

“He wanted me to just sit, stay there. Simplify everything.”

And away he went.

“You’re just riding it. You’re feeling really good at the plate,” Mattingly said “You’re not worried about homers. You’re just feeling good at the plate. You just want to keep hitting the ball hard.”

Incidentally, Mattingly cleared up what Gonzalez said about not being a power hitter.
“I think he said he’s not a home run hitter. I think he’s all Adrian’s saying he’s not up there trying to hit home runs, he’s basically just trying to get good pitches to hit and hit the ball hard. He’s a good hitter, period. He uses the whole field. He’s just a good hitter.”

And he can relate.

“I never looked at myself as a home run hitter,” Mattingly said. “I know I hit some home runs but they come out of your swing. They come out of making good contact, getting the right pitch. You can’t really…it’s hard to try to do that.”

Mattingly thinks Gonzalez is a better hitter.

“He’s different than me. He’s better than me,” Mattingly said. “He’s gonna be better, longer. He’s smarter. He doesn’t overwork. He takes care of himself. He’s good.”