Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez hits a single to center to drive in… (Victor Decolongon / Getty…)
Adrian Gonzalez hit a team-high .379 against left-handers in his partial season with the Dodgers last year. And he's doing even better in the early going this year after collecting two hits and three runs batted in against Pittsburgh's Jeff Locke on Sunday to raise his average against left-handed pitchers to .455.
Gonzalez, a left-handed hitter, credits his approach for his success.
"They allow me to simplify things," said Gonzalez, who is hitting .328 against left-handers over the last four seasons, more than 20 points higher than his average against right-handers. "I tend to get greedy against righties, try to drive the ball too much and pull off the ball. With lefties, I usually just try to take what they give me."
And Matt Kemp says others on the team have taken note.
"He stays closed, stays up in the middle of the field," Kemp said. "When you hit lefties well, that's what's happening. It's good to have Adrian over here. We've got guys learning things from him."
One of the regulars held out of Sunday's game was third baseman Luis Cruz, who Manager Don Mattingly said is pressing after going hitless in first 17 at-bats.
"There's always going to be a period in the season where you hit one of those spells. Luis is just having it right now, right out of the gate," Mattingly said. "And that kind of builds on you. So, mentally, he needs to go and put those behind him.
"He needs a day to sit there and watch, a day he can just back off a little bit where he can hopefully see the forest because he was getting too close to those trees. He just couldn't see his way out."
The arrival of veteran catcher Ramon Hernandez, acquired from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for pitcher Aaron Harang, probably means a demotion for Tim Federowicz, who a week ago was celebrating his first appearance on an opening-day roster.
Mattingly said he won't carry three catchers, so when Chad Billingsley comes off the disabled list to pitch Wednesday, Federowicz, the only catcher with options remaining, expects to be sent to triple-A Albuquerque.
"It's not going to affect my spirits or my game," said Federowicz, who made his first start of the season Sunday. "I feel ready. I know I didn't do anything wrong. …But it's something that I have to deal with. It's part of the game."
Hernandez, who wore No. 55 for all but one of his 14 big league seasons, made his Dodgers debut Sunday, striking out as pinch-hitter wearing No. 33. He expects to have his old number back the next time he gets into a game, though, after talking to current reliever Matt Guerrier, who wears that number now.
Guerrier said he'll take No. 54, which he wore in his first seven seasons with Minnesota until losing it to Javy Guerra when he joined the Dodgers in 2011. Guerra is now in the minors.
Jose Tabata's seventh-inning infield single against Ronald Belisario is the only hit the Dodgers' bullpen has given up in 13 innings.