In the fifth inning of the April 26 game in San Diego — just over a week ago — Alex Guerrero hit a homer off of Brandon Morrow, his second hit of the day and his fifth dinger in less than two weeks. He’d go on to win the NL Rookie of the Month award for April, a remarkable achievement for a part-time player, and the calls for Don Mattingly to somehow find a way to play him 150% of the time were absolutely deafening, particularly with Juan Uribe off to a slow start.
I never really saw it that way, figuring that Uribe’s massive advantage on defense (not to mention that he’d been an above-average hitter the last two years, to say nothing of the presence of Justin Turner) had more than earned him the opportunity to continue playing — and besides, with Carl Crawford & Yasiel Puig both going down, there would be more than enough opportunity to get Guerrero into the lineup a few times a week without it being every single day.
The Dodgers have played nine games since then, including that April 26 game. Here’s how it’s broken down for Guerrero, remembering that April 30 was a team day off:
- 4/26: Start/3B, 2-3 (HR)
- 4/27: DNP
- 4/28: Start/LF, 0-3
- 4/29: PH, 0-1
- 5/1: Start/LF, 0-2, BB
- 5/2: PH, 1-1
- 5/3: Start/LF, 0-4
- 5/4: DNP
- 5/5: Start/LF, 0-3
So over the last week-and-a-half, Guerrero has been starting every other game. He’s pinch-hit twice more. Only twice has he not appeared at all. (He’s also got one hit in 16 plate appearances since that homer, which, of course that was going to happen. Obviously that’s not the real him any more than the insane version we saw two weeks ago was the real him, but if your expectation was that he wouldn’t come considerably back to earth, then your expectations were wrong.)
It’s hard to look at this and think that Don Mattingly hasn’t handled this pretty close to perfectly. Guerrero hasn’t been “buried,” as I heard too many fans suggest last week, but has been a pretty regular part of the rotation. If anything, it’s been pretty interesting how Andre Ethier has really seized his opportunity to play — he’s started 9 of 10 in right since Puig went on the DL — and how Turner has been carving out some of Uribe’s time, starting 3 of the last 5 at third.
Now, how this all works out when Puig returns (early next week, probably) and Crawford returns (a few more weeks) remains to be seen. But for now, this is working smoothly, and it’s not like Guerrero is still hitting like Babe Ruth on a good day. Too much talent on hand is rarely a problem. It’s not a problem now.