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Time to make Juan Uribe earn his way into Dodgers' lineup

June 24, 2012|By Steve Dilbeck

Juan Uribe sat and watched Sunday, which should become more a regular feature for the Dodgers.

Uribe has never really hit in the 1½ years he’s been with Los Angeles, but he’s been at a new low since coming off the disabled list.

In the 11 games since he’s returned from a sore wrist, he’s hitting .161 (5 for 31) with a .188 on-base percentage and a .258 slugging percentage.

Even Manager Don Mattingly, who would typically insist Uribe was hitting the ball well when the numbers indicated otherwise, now seems to be facing reality since Uribe's return.

“He hasn’t looked very good,” Mattingly said. “I watch him in BP and he’s working on the right things, he’s working [on hitting the ball] the other way. But he hasn’t looked very good since he’s come back, though.

“For me, just too much pull. I was looking at a little bit of video today on him, and he’s just kind of pulling out of there.”

Yet as badly as Uribe has been, his numbers aren't far off from last season (.204/.264/.293).  And the Dodgers, as much as they would like — and need — for Uribe to provide them with some semblance of power, it’s getting to the point where they have to admit he is a failed signing.

That’s not easy to do, considering that the Dodgers are paying him $8 million this year, owe him $7 million next season and need power. 

But with Mattingly scrambling to find ways to keep Elian Herrera in the lineup and Mark Ellis on the mend, Uribe starting the game on the bench as he did Sunday against the Angels should be the more common order of the day.

Uribe’s greatest strength is his defense at third, somewhat ironic since he was originally signed to be a second baseman with moderate power.

Mattingly doesn’t think Uribe is intentionally trying to pull the ball, yet his swing is such a mess, by the time he’s completed it, his head is not looking down at the ball but in the first-base dugout.

Even if in batting practice, he is attempting to go to the opposite field.

“I know he’s working the other way,” Mattingly said. “It just hasn’t shown up in a game since he came back. He was swinging pretty good before he got hurt. Since he’s been back, he hasn’t seemed able to bring it to the game.”

It’s hard to give up on a guy you still owe so much money to and who had 24 homers and 85 RBI back in 2010, but at this point, Uribe needs to earn his place in the lineup.

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