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Dodgers' Juan Uribe hasn't found his stride

Struggles continue for the third baseman since he injured his wrist.

June 26, 2012|By Dylan Hernandez
  • Dodgers third baseman Juan Uribe hasn't been the same since returning from the disabled list.
Dodgers third baseman Juan Uribe hasn't been the same since returning… (Michael Nelson / EPA )

SAN FRANCISCO — Juan Uribe insists he has something left.

"My career still isn't over," he said.

The second year of his three-year, $21-million contract isn't as miserable as his first, but it's close. The 32-year-old third baseman missed nearly a month because of a wrist problem that continues to hinder him. He was out of the lineup Tuesday.

Uribe is batting .217 with a home run and 12 runs batted in. Whatever rhythm he had early in the season has disappeared. He was batting .250 when he went on the disabled list May 14. In his first dozen games since being activated, he hit .143.

"Before he got hurt, he was using the opposite field," coach Manny Mota said. "But he's lost his timing."

Mota and Uribe, both natives of the Dominican Republic, are working together daily to get him to wait on the ball.

"There's enough time left in the season to turn this around," Uribe said. "When you fall, you have to get up. All you can do is work. I'm working hard."

But Uribe's left wrist remains an obstacle. Because of the discomfort, practice time has to be limited.

"It's the quality that matters, not the quantity," Mota said.

Mota's advice goes beyond mechanics. "Don't try to do too much," Mota said he tells him. "All the manager wants from you are quality at-bats."

Uribe is always smiling and has maintained a carefree persona, but Mota sees through it.

"He's embarrassed and he has pride," Mota said. "Inside, he's suffering because he wants to help the team. So he tries too hard. I tell him, 'Juan, relax.'"

Hatcher returns

Mickey Hatcher, who was fired as the Angels' hitting coach last month, has returned to the Dodgers as a special assistant to General Manager Ned Colletti.

"These are my roots," Hatcher said. "This is where I received all of my education."

Hatcher played six of his 12 major league seasons with the Dodgers. He was a star of the 1988 World Series, batting .368 with two home runs, five runs batted in and five runs scored.

Hatcher, 57, figures to work primarily as an instructor in the farm system.

"I'd like to get on the field and get out there and be with some of the younger kids," Hatcher said.

Hatcher was dismissed May 15 by the Angels, for whom he had worked since 2000. He attended a couple of recent games at Dodger Stadium, where he sat with former manager Tom Lasorda and minority owner Magic Johnson. He also met Colletti, who later offered him a job.

Hatcher said he is glad the Dodgers are under new owners.

"It was tough," Hatcher said of watching the Dodgers under former owner Frank McCourt. "But it seems like it's changed overnight. I've gone to games before, last year, the year before that, and there's something about the fans this year. They're energized."

Short hops

Andre Ethier remains fifth among National League outfielders in All-Star balloting, which ends Thursday at 8:59 p.m. Matt Kemp still ranks first. … Former closer Javy Guerra could be sent on a minor league rehabilitation assignment after throwing scheduled bullpen sessions Thursday and Friday.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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