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Dodgers' Juan Uribe looks for consistency

Off-season acquisition has had an up-and-down season at the plate, partly because of injuries, Don Mattingly says.

June 18, 2011|By Dylan Hernandez
  • Juan Uribe, shown hitting an RBI single against Cincinnati on Monday, has struggled at the plate since returning from a thigh injury in early May.
Juan Uribe, shown hitting an RBI single against Cincinnati on Monday, has… (Gary A. Vasquez / US Presswire )

Juan Uribe was dark-haired Thursday, blond Friday and bald Saturday.

The inconsistency of Uribe's appearance has been a source of some light-hearted humor in the Dodgers' dugout.

His inconsistent presence in the lineup?

Not so funny.

The Dodgers' $21-million off-season acquisition went into Saturday's game with a .215 average, something Manager Don Mattingly said he blamed on a couple of injuries Uribe suffered.

Always considered a streaky hitter, Uribe started to gain momentum in mid-April, when he batted .435 with two home runs over a six-game stretch. But Uribe strained a thigh muscle, sat out three games and fell back into a slump.

Uribe had another short burst of production a month later that came to an end because of a hip flexor strain.

From his May 6 activation through Friday, Uribe was batting .194.

"It seems like we're always back to starting over again, trying to get back into rhythm," Mattingly said.

Uribe, who had 24 home runs and 85 runs batted in last season with the San Francisco Giants, has three homers and 22 RBIs in 51 games this season.

Uribe said he isn't waiting for his fortune to change.

He has spent time in the last week watching videos of his at-bats with coach Manny Mota.

"I've been comparing my at-bats to my at-bats from last year," Uribe said.

Uribe said he was calmer at the plate last year.

"I was waiting on the ball more," he said.

Uribe had only one hit in the Dodgers' homestand through Friday, but Mattingly said he has seen an improvement.

"I know he's working on just staying in there, keep from spinning off," Mattingly said. "At least thinking in the middle of the field more."

Jansen is activated

In the span of a year, Kenley Jansen went from catching in Class A to pitching in the major leagues.

On his meteoric rise to the majors, Jansen missed out on several lessons.

Lessons about how soreness for a pitcher isn't the same as soreness for a catcher. Lessons about the importance of secondary pitches and holding runners. Lessons about dieting.

So, Jansen, who rejoined the Dodgers' active roster Saturday, said he thought his time on the 15-day disabled list was beneficial.

"It's a good thing," Jansen said. "It's a learning process."

The hard-throwing reliever said that when he started feeling shoulder pain last month, he didn't think much of it.

"I thought it was just soreness," he said. "I learned my lesson."

During his rehabilitation at the Dodgers' spring-training complex and with double-A Chattanooga, Jansen said he worked on his split-finger fastball and holding runners.

He said he also dropped 10 pounds from what used to be a 270-pound frame.

"I changed my diet," he said.

Short hops

Closer Jonathan Broxton is set to start a minor league rehabilitation assignment with triple-A Albuquerque on Monday. After pitching Monday and Wednesday, the two-time All-Star will be re-evaluated. … The Dodgers opened a roster spot for Jansen by sending pitcher Josh Lindblom to Chattanooga. … Left-handed reliever Hong-Chih Kuo is still expected to be activated from the disabled list Sunday.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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