Dodgers infielder Juan Uribe arrives at Camelback Ranch for a spring workout… (Rob Tringali / Getty Images )
Matt Kemp finally collected a couple of spring hits, Clayton Kershaw did not allow an earned run in five innings, Tony Gwynn Jr. crashed into the center-field wall to make a wonderful catch -- and none of it could take the spotlight away from sluggin' Juan Uribe.
Uribe is what normally would be called a “beleaguered” player, except most of his struggles were borne from simple failure. In his two seasons as a Dodger, Uribe has batted .199 with .262 on-base and .289 slugging percentages.
Now he’s fighting for his career, trying to reinvent himself as something of a utility player who can also back up first base.
He gave the first positive momentum to his campaign this spring on a sunny Sunday when he slugged a three-run homer in the Dodgers’ 6-1 victory over the Rockies in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Uribe, playing first, also started a pair of double plays.
If you’re still into him for $8 million like the Dodgers are, you’ll gladly take a little spring encouragement wherever it can be found.
Given the Dodgers are expected to start the season with the biggest payroll in baseball history and the way their new ownership has spent, it’s been heavily speculated the Dodgers would be willing to wash their hands of Uribe this season and eat the rest of his contract if he cannot demonstrate an ability to help them win now.
Helping his cause, the Dodgers need a right-handed bat to start at first on those occasional days they decide to rest Adrian Gonzalez. Uribe has a solid glove, though his strong arm is somewhat negated playing first.
Uribe, who at least has not been a clubhouse problem throughout his two disappointing seasons, needs to maximize his time this spring. Not exactly the way General Manager Ned Colletti envisioned it when the signed him to a three-year, $21-million deal prior to the 2011 season.
Otherwise Sunday, the Rockies got to Kershaw for only one unearned run. Kershaw gave up only two hits, but walked three and struck out two.
Kemp went two for two and drove in his first run of the spring.
Mark Lowe, Matt Guerrier, Peter Moylan and Juan Abreu each threw one scoreless inning in relief.
Dodgers' Mr. Nice Guy, Luis Cruz, at center of Mexico-Canada brawl
Adrian Gonzalez, Luis Cruz to rejoin Dodgers on Monday
Ned Colletti is writing a different story these days