It's easy to see why Doug Mientkiewicz came back to the Dodgers, as a non-roster player for the second spring in a row. Over the last six seasons, Mientkiewicz has played for seven teams, including starting each of those last six years with a brand new team. It is understandable that he would like to return to familiar settings for the first time in a long time.
|Most Teams Played For, 2004-2009|
Plus, there is a sense of unfinished business for the man affectionately known as "Eye Chart." Mientkiewicz was in the same position last season, a non-roster player who won a job on the bench, as the primary lefty pinch hitter and backup first baseman. However, in just the 10th game of the season, Mientkiewicz slid headfirst into second base to complete a two-run double. He was safe at second, but reached base anything but safely. He dislocated his shoulder, and missed the next four months. Admirably, he fought hard through rehabilitation, and ended up returning to the team in September.
However, the shoulder injury sapped much of his ability to play the field. Once a defensive whiz at first base (his UZR/150 was between +12.2 and +16.3 every season from 2005-2008), Mientkiewicz even to this day still has trouble throwing. While Mientkiewicz and Garret Anderson are battling for a pinch-hitting role, likely one that won't result in much time in the field, Joe Torre still likes to have versatility and flexibility on the bench for late-game maneuvers. Anderson himself isn't much of a fielder (in left field) himself, so the defensive bar for Mientkiewicz (at first base) isn't set very high.
Mientkiewicz signed a minor league contract that will pay him $550,000 if he makes the major league roster. Mientkiewicz can also earn up to $200,000 in incentives based on plate appearances, ranging from 150 to 350.
|2010 Projections - Age 36 Season|
There has been some talk this spring of the Dodgers starting the season with 11 pitchers, rather than their usual 12. This would create an extra spot on the bench, which could increase Mientkiewicz's odds of making the club. However, I will believe the Dodgers will use only 11 pitchers when I see it. Mientkiewicz's best case scenario is to have a shoulder healthy enough to play the field, to make the club, enter the final game of the World Series for James Loney after a double switch, and keep the ball that recorded the final out, Evan Longoria's groundout to give the Dodgers a win over the Rays.
My guess is that Mientkiewicz loses the final bench spot to Anderson, but if he makes it I'll pick .281/.351/.380.
What are your predictions for Doug Mientkiewicz (BA/OBP/SLG)?
Vin Scully fell last night at his home in Los Angeles, but he is OK. Dodger Vice President of Communications Josh Rawitch released a statement late last night:
I just spoke with him and he told me that he was in bed this evening and simply got up too quickly and fell and bumped his head. For precautionary reasons, he went to the hospital and will stay overnight for observation but he fully expects to be at Camelback Ranch this weekend for the the telecast on Sunday.