USA TODAY Sports
Jerry Hairston is back from hip surgery and expects to play four different positions for the Dodgers in 2013.
Jerry Hairston Jr. proved to be a valuable utility man for the Dodgers in 2012, as he started games at third base, second base and left field for the team. But a hip injury slowed him in the second half and ultimately ended his season prematurely. But after arthroscopic surgery to repair his left hip, Hairston made a complete recovery and is ready to go for 2013.
"It was a really big deal for me to play in the first game of spring training. I'm not a young man anymore, even though I act like it sometimes. It's a privilege to play at this level, and I really appreciate it every year, to be one of 750 major leaguers om the world. To be on top of your game and to try and play at this level even sometimes when you're hurt or banged up, it's special people who play this game," Hairston said. "I'm glad to be back."
In Monday's game against the Cubs, Hairston scored from second base on a single with no problems.
"The biggest test was scoring from second, and I felt pretty good running. The biggest thing is to try and stay on top of it, make sure I do my exercises still, and don't let it get weak," he said. "I feel good now, and want to make sure I stay healthy throughout the season."
Hairston likes to playfully remind Ted Lilly that Lilly is the oldest player on the team, though only by about four months over Hairston, the second oldest (side note: Lilly is the only player on the 40-man roster older than I am, a sobering thought personally). The good natured Hairston always seems to find the bright side, so it's no surprise that he was ready to go for spring training after a busy offseason of rehabilitation.
"There were some tough times, no question about it. But I'm a big 'attitude is everything' type of guy. I know it's a tough injury to come back from, and they say sometimes it takes a year," Hairston said. "But I worked extremely hard, and I really believed in myself and my body. The mind is powerful."
Manager Don Mattingly this spring called Hairston his "four corners guy," in that he will play in right field, left field, third base, and even a little first base should the need arise. Hairston said he will be ready, and hasn't changed his approach any heading into his 16th major league season.
"I do everything the same, because I don't want to be surprised. I learned from my father, and from a guy by the name of Cal Ripken, to always be prepared," Hairston said. "When I got traded to Milwaukee in 2011, Rickie Weeks was banged up pretty good and I thought I was only going to play second base. Then Rickie came back, somebody went down and I played center field and then ended up playing third base every day. I want to make sure that I'm prepared for whatever happens. I never want to feel like our team is going to be hurt."
Hairston is a third generation big leaguer, as is his brother Scott Hairston, who signed with the Cubs this season. Not only did their father, Jerry Hairston Sr., and their grandfather, Sam Hairston, play in the majors, but their uncle John Hairston did as well. The Hairstons were honored on Jan. 12 at the annual Baseball Scouts' Dinner with the Ray Boone Family Award.
"The biggest thing, and I get it everywhere I go, from players, scouts, coaches, managers, was how great they feel about my grandfather, and how they feel about my father and my uncle and my brother," Hairston said. "To have a good reputation and have that respect - we were never the Bondses as far as talent, never the Griffeys - but to be known as good teammates and good people, to hear that about your dad, uncle, and grandfather, that is very, very special to me. To be honored like that with such an award, from the Boone family, it was humbling."
Hairston never started a game batting third until 2012 with the Dodgers. In his six starts from the prime position in the batting order, Hairston hit .333/.360/.625 with two home runs. He also hit third on Monday against the Cubs, a game in which his brother Scott hit cleanup for Chicago. I asked Hairston if he could remember a game against his brother in which they were both in such prestigious lineup spots.
"It doesn't matter to me where we are at in the lineup," Hairston said. "I just like playing against my brother because it means we are both in the big leagues."
Hairston also had his only four career stars batting cleanup in 2012 with the Dodgers, but he hit just .231/.294/.308 in those games.
Hairston is in the second year of a two-year contract that will pay him $3.75 million in 2013. He will be a free agent at the end of the season.
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Those projections are all pretty close together in predicting Hairston's performance, so I'll stay in that range and guess .256/.330/.364, with 42 starts.
What is your guess for Hairston? Be sure to guess BA/OBP/SLG, and any other thing you wish to guess.