Uribe to get looks all over infield in spring games
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Coming off a second consecutive disappointing season, Juan Uribe will be moved all over the diamond at camp this year to help give the Dodgers a better idea of what the infielder's role will be on Opening Day.
The 33-year-old Uribe, who played third base in 46 of his 47 defensive appearances last season, will likely spend time at each infield position this spring.
"I think he can show his value -- like is he going to be able to handle different positions for us?" manager Don Mattingly said. "We're going to try to expand him a little bit to first base. He's not quite the typical shortstop body type, but if we put him there, he isn't going to be lost, and if we put him at second, he wouldn't be lost either."
The problem with Uribe during his time with the Dodgers hasn't been his glove, but rather his struggles at the plate. In 2011, he hit just .204, and last season .191. The power he showed in his final season with the Giants in 2010, when he blasted a career-high 24 homers, has also disappeared, with Uribe combining for just six long balls over 143 games with Los Angeles.
"He has never been a liability defensively, I think we all know Juan has great hands," Mattingly said. "So he will be a guy who will get at-bats -- at least here in Spring Training -- all over the field. From that point, we'll see how he's swinging the bat."
Even though he hasn't put up the kind of numbers the team originally hoped for, Uribe impressed the club at the tail end of last season when things weren't going his way but he still kept a good attitude.
"You get a guy that is brought in as a free agent, he's a veteran guy, he's played on a couple of World Series teams and all of the sudden he's not really playing at all," Mattingly said. "He could've very easily been a disruption in the clubhouse, but he wasn't. He showed himself to be a good teammate and a guy that can help other guys. He had a great attitude about it. I think it was important to recognize that."
As for where most of Uribe's opportunities will come from, that is still up in the air, depending on how incumbent third baseman Luis Cruz handles being the everyday starter.
"At this point, with what Cruz was able to do last year, he comes in and gets the first shot," Mattingly said. "I'm hoping Plan A works out, but we know we have to have backup ideas and the flexibility to move around."