Dodgers utility man Jerry Hairston Jr. has proven invaluable so far this… (Bob Levey / Getty Images )
Jerry Hairston Jr. understands he’s a role player, and he's embraced it. In 15 years in the major leagues, he’s been a regular only once.
The Dodgers signed him to be a utility player, and turning 37 later this month, it’s not as if he’s suddenly trying to reinvent himself.
Trouble is, he’s looking like someone the Dodgers need to play regularly. And particularly with Juan Uribe struggling, it might be hard to sit Hairston down. He's the only Dodger not named Matt Kemp who is hitting over .300 and is playing very good defense.
Uribe has been out with a sore wrist, though the way Hairston is performing, it’s hard to imagine that Manager Don Mattingly is in a hurry to rush Uribe back into the lineup.
Hairston has started eight of the Dodgers’ last 10 games, which is plenty more than the original plan.
Yet despite how well Hairston has been playing, Mattingly said as soon as Uribe has completely recovered, he will return to his starting spot and Hairston to his utility role.
“Juan’s not quite ready,” Mattingly said. “He’s getting better ... when Juan gets back to that level then I’m going to put him there [at third] again.
“At the end of the day, as good as Jerry’s been, I still can’t throw Jerry out there every day, because I think I’m going to wear him out if I do that. That’s really been the plan from the beginning, is to use him all over the field, give different guys days off, matchups and things like that.”
Which means, ultimately, the Dodgers are still crossing their fingers and hoping Uribe can regain the form that led to his solid 2010 season and their signing him to a three-year, $21-million deal. Uribe’s average is up to .262, but his on-base percentage is only .308 and his slugging percentage a woeful .311.
Numbers that pale to what Hairston is putting up, even if that’s only his temporary role.
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Can Dodgers sit Jerry Hairston Jr. when Juan Uribe is healthy?