With Miguel Rojas starting at shortstop again, taking stock of the Dodgers’ backup infielders.

Miguel Rojas

Miguel Rojas is hitting .232 in his first 30 major-league games. (Associated Press photo)

It’s reached the juncture, again, where Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez is being propped up by shoulder injections. The Dodgers seem to think that last night’s injection hit the correct spot. Time will tell.

On Friday, for the fourth time in the last five games, Ramirez wasn’t in the Dodgers’ lineup. Miguel Rojas was. Ramirez’s health seems to be stuck on day-to-day, so it’s worth examining where his backups stand in what’s become a competition for fairly regular playing time.
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Dodgers add Miguel Rojas, demote Erisbel Arruebarrena, transfer Chris Withrow to 60-day DL.

The Dodgers selected the contract of infielder Miguel Rojas from Triple-A Albuquerque and optioned infielder Erisbel Arruebarrena to Albuquerque, while transferring right-hander Chris Withrow to the 60-day disabled list.

Rojas’s first game will mark his Major League debut.

The 25-year-old infielder was batting .302 with nine doubles, four homers and 13 RBI in 51 games at second base (eight games), third base (16 games) and shortstop (23 games) for the Isotopes. Rojas has been on a power surge of late, with all four of his home runs coming during his active eight-game hitting streak (.412, 14-for-34) that preceded his call-up.

Withrow had Tommy John surgery on his left elbow Tuesday.

Arruebarrena appeared in six games for the Dodgers after the club selected his contract on May 21, batting .308 (4-for-13) with a double and one RBI.

EA: It’s in the game.

The Dodgers recalled Erisbel Arruebarrena from Double-A Chattanooga and placed Juan Uribe on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday.

Arruebarrena, a 24-year-old defensive dynamo at shortstop, has a .324/.359/.432 slash line since May 9 but was batting .136/.188/.220 prior to that. Here was a Southern League scout’s evaluation of Arruebarrena prior to his bump in performance.

Arruebarrena isn’t in the starting lineup for the Dodgers’ game against the New York Mets.

Daily Distractions: A scout’s take on Erisbel Arruebarrena.

Erisbel Arruebarrena

Infielder Erisbel Arruebarrena is batting .136 for the Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate.

Erisbel Arruebarrena provided a nice distraction during spring training. Reporters covering the Dodgers spent countless minutes rolling our “R”s, trying to pronounce Arruebarrena, figuring out how many “U”s were in the name, and mostly waiting for the 24-year-old shortstop to arrive in the U.S.

When he finally did get his visa and arrive in spring training on March 13, the Cuban shortstop was shuffled to the Dodgers’ minor-league camp. Then the major-leaguers left for Australia. Hardly anyone got to see the kid play baseball.

Nearly two months later there he is, taking up a space on the 40-man roster and $25 million of the Dodgers’ payroll over the next five years. Ever since Arruebarrena reported to Double-A Chattanooga, he’s proceeded to bat .136/.188/.220, which hardly seems to justify a $25 million contract. Was this signing a mistake? Was rolling my “R”s one big time-killerrrrrr?

A pro scout who recently watched Arruebarrena in the Southern League chimed in with this report.

I’d say Erisbel’s current offensive numbers are an accurate representation of his abilities – he has a long/loopy swing, almost like a golf swing that struggles to make contact with any type of pitch. He has serious recognition problems vs. AA-effective secondary stuff, turning his back early & often vs. almost all curveballs/sliders. Those things combined lead to rare contact on mistake fastballs only, or if a pitcher makes a bad decision to throw him the same loopy curveball three times in a row.

That said, him at SS is sometimes awesome to watch; way above instincts, really easy/super-quick receive-and-throw actions deep in the hole or going up the middle with a really good feel to complete very tough plays. He did flash a couple mental errors, like dropping a popup or ball bouncing off his glove with the infield in. Even with the bat how it is now I’d like to have him in my organization, because his floor is first-division middle infield-utility. As he gets comfortable over the next couple seasons in the US I think his feel/baseball IQ will improve a bit/less mental errors on both sides. I see him as a mid-.500s OPS guy but with major league top-5 shortstop defense.

Make of that what you will. It’s the most up-to-date scouting report we have on a player we know little about, perhaps the least known member of the Dodgers’ 40-man roster.

Some bullet points for a Europe Day:
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Daily Distractions: Is Brandon League’s ‘whipping boy’ status deserved?

Brandon League

Brandon League has not allowed a run in five of seven appearances this season, including his last three straight. (Associated Press photo)

When Brandon League‘s name was announced over the Dodger Stadium public-address system in the sixth inning Monday, the reaction was best described as a mixture of boos and cheers and indifference.

When League’s name was brought up in Don Mattingly‘s postgame press conference, the reaction was different: “We feel like he’s been pretty good.”

It’s time to call BS on someone here.

A quick look at League’s 2014 resume:

That’s not terribly difficult to defend as “pretty good.” By comparison, this poor chap faced nine more batters and got two more outs, and doesn’t get booed by his fans:

The second gamelog belongs to Jamey Wright, in case you were wondering. We’re dealing with small sample sizes, but here goes: Wright has the superior ERA (3.38 compared to League’s 3.60). League has the better FIP (2.84 compared to 4.35), but FIP doesn’t show up on the Dodger Stadium display boards. Maybe that explains the boos?

Here’s Mattingly, continued: “I know he got the loss in that game in San Francisco. He’s been throwing the ball pretty good. It’s been negative since last year because he has a little bit of a rough spring. It’s been negative but he’s thrown the ball well. We want to stay realistic. He’s thrown the ball good. He’s given us some good innings. He’s kept games where they should be, given us chances, so he’s doing his job.”

What Mattingly didn’t mention is that League’s $22.5 million, three-year contract makes League the Dodgers’ best-paid relief pitcher. That’s closer money for a sixth-inning reliever. League is certainly paid better than Wright’s $1.8 million deal, which is why Wright (or a young pitcher with contract options like Chris Withrow, Jose Dominguez or Paco Rodriguez) will hardly ever get booed. Their contracts are more readily expendable. League’s contract, a seagull bordering on an albatross, is not. For fans, that comes with certain expectations.

Ever since League lost the closer’s job and finished the 2013 season with a 5.30 ERA, it seems like there’s been no turning back. He is the whipping boy. Juan Uribe was in a similar position in 2011 and 2012, but was able to turn it around.

Maybe League can turn his reputation around too. Apparently it’ll take more than seven “pretty good” appearances.

Speaking of which, Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area had a pretty good take on the Giants’ “whipping boys.” Does race have something to do with it?

Some bullet points for an Earth Day:
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Selection Sunday: Dodgers add Justin Turner to 40-man roster, place Onelki Garcia on 60-day disabled list.

Justin Turner

Justin Turner hit .280/.319/.385 last season for the New York Mets. (Getty Images)


The Dodgers selected the contract of Justin Turner on Sunday, adding him to their 40-man roster in advance of their flight to Sydney, Australia tonight. In a corresponding move, the Dodgers placed Onelki Garcia on the 60-day disabled list.

Turner signed a minor-league contract with the Dodgers with an invitation to spring training and subsequently batted .333/.432/.467 while seeing time at all four infield positions.

Garcia hasn’t pitched at all since undergoing surgery on his left elbow in November. A 60-day disabled list stay means that Garcia won’t appear in a game before May 27. He was a longshot to make the major-league roster if healthy, and will likely be sent to the minors once he’s ready.

In a pair of expected moves, catcher Miguel Olivo was reassigned to the Dodgers’ minor-league camp one day after requesting his release, and infielder Erisbel Arruebarrena was optioned to the minor-league camp.

The moves help narrow down the list of 30 players the Dodgers are bringing to Sydney, Australia.

Daily Distractions: Now wearing number 11 for the Dodgers, Erisbel Arruebarrena.

Dixie Walker wore number 11 for the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1939 to 1947. The jersey changed hands 13 times over the next 22 years, until Manny Mota donned number 11 in 1969. It was his up until his final appearance as a 44-year-old pinch hitter in 1982, a groundout that interrupted Mota’s long tenure as the Dodgers’ hitting coach.

Mota, now 76 years old, is still wearing the uniform in camp these days in an unofficial capacity, much like the man wearing number 2, Tommy Lasorda. Pitcher Guillermo Mota (no relation) wore number 11 briefly as a Dodger in the early 2000s. The number seemed to be reserved for Motas — or at least, players with only four letters in their last name, as if the MOTA could be balanced delicately atop the two digits.

Today, this was hanging in the Dodgers’ clubhouse:

Erisbel Arruebarrena (pronounced Arr-ru-eh-BAHR-ena, as the caption indicates) recently received his U.S. work visa and arrived in camp Thursday morning.

As for the type of player we can expect to see wearing number 11, the bar is as high as a 5-year, $25 million contract.

Minor league games are likely next, writes Eric Stephen of TrueBlueLA.com.

I’m not in camp today. I’ll be attending the annual SABR Analytics Conference in downtown Phoenix, where Dodgers head athletic trainer Stan Conte is speaking on a panel discussing medical analysis and injury prevention.

Some bullet points for an National earmuff day:
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Dodgers finalize contract with Cuban shortstop Erisbel Arruebarrena — note the spelling.

Erisbel Arruebarrena

Screenshot courtesy of uni-watch.com.

Erisbel Arruebarrena has a new spelling and a new contract.

Arruebarrena, whose name was clearly spelled differently during the 2013 World Baseball Classic (right), has finalized a five-year, $25 million contract with the Dodgers, the team announced Saturday. Terms of the contract were first reported yesterday.

That’s a large contract for a player who might not begin the season on the major-league roster, but the Dodgers did no shortage of homework.

“Bob Engle and his scouts have seen him for quite a while,” Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said. “Rick (Ragazzo) and Vance (Lovelace) saw him this past winter. He brings really excellent defense with him. We still have a few crossroads to get through as far as getting him to the States. We think he adds to our major-league club at some point this year. He can play shortstop at a high level, second base and third base as well, but we see him as a shortstop.”

Justin Sellers was designated for assignment to make room for Arruebarrena on the 40-man roster.

Arruebarrena, 23, posted a .276 batting average with 67 doubles, 25 triples, 27 homers and 171 RBI in 437 career games in six seasons for Cienfuegos in the Cuban Serie Nacional from 2007-2013. The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder, who is known for his defense, has appeared primarily at shortstop during his career, but has also played second base and third base professionally. With Cienfuegos during the 2012-13 season, Arruebarrena hit .293 with a .366 on-base percentage, six home runs and 32 RBI in 70 regular-season games before going 6-for-14 (.429) in six postseason contests.

“We are excited to sign Erisbel, who we’ve scouted in international competition for a long time.” said Dodger Vice President, International Scouting Bob Engle. “He brings another superb glove to our organization.”

The Cienfuegos, Cuba native was the starting shortstop for his home country in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, batting .375 with a .444 on-base percentage, four runs scored and two RBI in six games in the tournament. He also played internationally for Cuba in the 2011 Pan American Games and batted .445 (8-for-18) with three runs scored, a double and an RBI in five games.

Arruebarrena was a teammate of Dodger outfielder Yasiel Puig with Cienfuegos in 2010-11.