With Olivera looming, Turner continues to hit
Cuban infielder continues working into baseball shape in Minors
LOS ANGELES -- As the Dodgers' offense has stalled in recent weeks, third baseman Justin Turner has continued to be a bright spot for Los Angeles.
Turner is hitting .327 this season with eight home runs and 29 RBIs. He was productive Friday night against the Giants, going 3-for-3 with a home run and two doubles, and he added a solo homer in the first inning of Saturday's game to tie the score in an eventual 6-2 Dodgers loss. In his last 11 games, Turner is hitting .424 with seven extra-base hits.
Though Turner is the starting third baseman for now, red-hot Cuban infielder Hector Olivera is in Triple-A and the Dodgers will have decisions to make on playing time. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly usually has limited Turner to four or five games per week, in order to give Turner's knees a rest, but who will receive the majority of at-bats on a daily basis when Olivera is called up remains unclear.
"Well, I don't have to have a plan at this moment," Mattingly said. "Trying to find a mixture for our guys is important."
Olivera left Saturday's game after the sixth inning. He came up lame after running out a groundout to shortstop.
In 13 games in the Minors, six at Double-A Tulsa and seven with Triple-A Oklahoma City, Olivera has a .358/.393/.528 slash line in starts at second and third base.
"[Olivera] looks like a guy that can use the whole field," Mattingly said. "He's more experienced, a little rusty, but a more experienced guy."
It sounds as though Olivera won't be up in the Majors in the immediate future, however, as Mattingly said he still continues to work himself into baseball shape.
"Olivera has been swinging the bat well but there's no indication that he's coming up tomorrow or the next day," Mattingly said. "We still feel like there's baseball to be played for him to get back in shape and get his legs under him. He hasn't played in a while."
The hot corner is already crowded for the Dodgers. The club has Alberto Callaspo and Alex Guerrero, who each have been hitting well. Since joining the club in a trade from Atlanta, Callaspo is hitting .300 and has a .391 on-base percentage in 18 games for Los Angeles entering Saturday.
Guerrero's playing time has diminished due to his defense, but he's third on the club with 10 home runs in only 29 starts. He's excelled as a pinch-hitter, though, hitting .350 with three of his home runs coming in 21 pinch-hit appearances.