Juan Uribe showed up to Dodgers camp Saturday morning and received a rousing welcome in a clubhouse becoming more crowded by the day. The infielder said he was healthy and fully recovered from offseason sports hernia surgery and the injuries that caused him to miss the last two months of last season.
"I worked really hard in the Dominican Republic to get back, and I hope I will be able to play better this year," said Uribe, who hit just .204/.264/.293 with four home runs in 77 games.
Uribe will be in camp today and tomorrow, but then has to go to San Francisco for a trial as he is being sued by his former landlord for $145,000 from damages caused by a kitchen fire Uribe was suspected to start. Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times has more details on the pending trial, which could cause Uribe to miss up to a week.
Uribe declined comment on the trial, saying he would leave that to his lawyers. Don Mattingly said he wasn't concerned about Uribe missing a few days, and was well aware of the pending litigation. "It's not a big deal," said Mattingly.
Reporting day for position players is Monday, and the first full squad workout is scheduled for Tuesday at Camelback Ranch.
Mattingly said he wants to keep Uribe at third base because the manager feels it is Uribe's best defensive position, but also to have the comfort and routine of staying in the same position all season. Uribe is happy to play wherever Mattingly wants him to play.
"I respect the decision of the manager. My job is to do what I'm told," said Uribe. "I just want to be in the lineup every day."
Mattingly also likes the depth of the infield, with Adam Kennedy and Jerry Hairston Jr. able to fill in at third base if needed, with Kennedy also backing up second base and Hariston backing up shortstop.
Donnie Baseball At The Hot Corner
Mattingly also remembered when he played third base, which doesn't sound all that irregular until you remember that he throws left-handed. Mike Pagliarulo had a hamstring injury for the New York Yankees, which opened the door for Mattingly on August 29, 1986 at the Kingdome against the Seattle Mariners.
"Lou Piniella was the manager, and Lou in his typical form liked lefties in the lineup," Mattingly said. Piniella had him take a few grounders at third base before the game, and by the fifth inning Mattingly replaced Wayne Tolleson at the hot corner.
The first ball hit to Mattingly came off the bat of Jim Presley, who grounded a ball to Mattingly's left. Mattingly backhanded it and turned a double play. "I had so much fun. I loved it," Mattingly said.
He said he used the glove of pitcher Dennis Rasmussen while playing third base.
Mattingly finished the game at third base, and started at the position in each of the next two days. He is the last left-handed thrower to start at third base in the major leagues. The only lefty since Mattingly to play third base was Mario Valdez, who pinch hit for the Chicago White Sox in the eighth inning on July 2, 1997, then played the final inning at third base against the Pittsburgh Pirates, in a game won by Jason Schmidt.
Infielder Ivan DeJesus Jr. reported to camp on Saturday, as did non-roster invitee infielder Luis Cruz