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DODGERS FYI

Dodgers' Juan Rivera is taking advantage of opportunities

Outfielder is hitting most of the time behind Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, and reaping the benefits by driving in runs.

April 14, 2012|By Dylan Hernandez
  • Juan Rivera drove in four runs and hit .500 with men in scoring position during the Dodgers' first eight games of the season.
Juan Rivera drove in four runs and hit .500 with men in scoring position during… (Jeff Gross / Getty Images )

Juan Rivera is comfortable.

On most days, he hits fifth behind Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. When the Dodgers face a left-hander, he hits fourth between Kemp and the left-handed-hitting Ethier.

"I have protection," Rivera said. "I have men on base."

He's doing the most with his opportunities.

In the Dodgers' first eight games, the soft-spoken Rivera drove in four runs and hit .500 with men in scoring position. He was hitting .286 but hadn't hit a home run.

"You drive in a lot of guys with singles," Manager Don Mattingly said. "Juan doesn't change when a guy's out there on second base."

Acquired in August from the Toronto Blue Jays at virtually no cost, Rivera hit .274 with five home runs and 46 runs batted in in 62 games for the Dodgers in 2011. The Dodgers re-signed the 33-year-old outfielder to a one-year, $4.5-million deal over the winter to complement Kemp and Ethier in the middle of the order.

Rivera has traditionally been a slow starter. Over his 12-year career, Rivera has hit .261 before the All-Star break and .292 after it.

"I've learned to concentrate better and be more selective," Rivera said. "I'm still learning."

Because of Rivera's age, Mattingly said he will be careful not to overuse him. Rivera was out of the lineup Saturday for the second time in nine games.

Vin Scully is set to return

Vin Scully will return to his booth at Dodger Stadium on Sunday to call the Dodgers' series finale with San Diego on Jackie Robinson Day.

Scully, 84, missed the Dodgers' first six home games because of a severe cold. The Hall of Famer didn't call the home opener for only the second time in his 63 years with the club.

Scully is said to be feeling considerably better and looking forward to watching Clayton Kershaw pitch.

Charley Steiner and Steve Lyons called games on Prime Ticket in Scully's absence. Rick Monday and Kevin Kennedy handled the radio broadcasts.

Timely injury

The Dodgers had to clear a roster spot for pitcher Ted Lilly, who was coming off the disabled list to start Saturday.

There were three relievers they could send to the minors without risking to lose them to other teams, but all three were vital parts of the bullpen: closer Javy Guerra, setup man Kenley Jansen and Josh Lindblom.

Well, it so happened that a pitcher turned up injured. And it so happened that the injured pitcher had a team-worst earned-run average of 36.00.

That pitcher, Todd Coffey, was moved to the 15-day disabled list, creating the space on the active roster for Lilly.

Mattingly insisted that right-hander Coffey's right knee is really inflamed, as did Coffey. Mattingly acknowledged the injury isn't particularly severe and described the move as a precautionary measure.

"It's too early to be messing around and turning into something bigger," Mattingly said.

Coffey initially protested the move.

Did Mattingly have to threaten to release him to get him to agree to it?

"No," Mattingly said.

Coffey, who made his trademark bullpen-to-mound sprint Friday night without any problems, said he will rest for three days before resuming throwing.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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