Mattingly clarifies crowded third-base situation
Dodgers skipper names Turner starter, says Guerrero will primarily pinch-hit
SAN DIEGO -- It's been pretty much assumed since the trade of Juan Uribe, but manager Don Mattingly reiterated on Sunday that Justin Turner is the Dodgers starting third baseman, even though Alberto Callaspo started there against the Padres on Sunday.
"It's pretty much Justin," Mattingly said, now that it appears Callaspo gets second call and Alex Guerrero has become essentially a pinch-hitter -- with $62.5 million Cuban signee Hector Olivera arriving soon.
Mattingly said Turner gets the nod because of "the whole package." Turner's main limitation is physical, a chronic tender knee that flares up with overuse. Mattingly said he will try to start him three days, with one day off, then play two days and another day off.
Turner is batting .316 with five homers and 24 RBIs.
As for Guerrero, whose .927 OPS has Mattingly critics perplexed with the limited role, the manager said Guerrero's lack of defensive polish has kept him from getting more playing time that's "not his fault at all. He had no seasoning and we've been doing it on the run, and that's hard at this level."
But offensively, Mattingly said Guerrero has been "really good off the bench, and not quite as good when he [starts]."
Guerrero is 6-for-18 (.333) with three homers and five RBIs pinch-hitting. The rest of the time he was 27-for-99 (.273) with seven homers and 23 RBIs.
"He can really hit," said Mattingly. "He just walks up there and hits. It comes naturally to him. He's a little more experienced, a rookie here but an older guy that played a lot of baseball [in Cuba]."