LOS ANGELES -- Juan Uribe's desire for playing time helped facilitate his ticket out of town, as he fell further down the Dodgers' depth chart at third base.
Uribe started 15 of the first 21 games of the year at third base for the Dodgers, and two of those six games he didn't start were because of hamstring tightness. That was in April.
But after a slow start at the plate by Uribe, May was a different story. He started just seven times in 25 games this month for the Dodgers, amassing only 30 plate appearances. On the season he was hitting just .247/.287/.309, production so low not even his defensive prowess could stave off his demotion.
"With how JT was playing and how Alex was playing, I know Donnie was very active in his communication with Juan about what's going on, and things were changing daily," Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. "Throughout the conversations, his agent reached out and said 'Juan wants to play'."
Justin Turner carried over his great 2014 campaign into 2015, and Alex Guerrero got off to a ridiculously hot start. They are hitting .287/.374/.529 and .313/.348/.687, respectively, with a combined 13 home runs and 11 doubles, and essentially pushed Uribe to a bench player.
"His playing time here had been down, and I knew through conversations with him he wanted to play more," manager Don Mattingly said. "When a guy's not happy, and he hasn't been happy with his for the last couple of weeks with his situation, then it's never good.
"Juan was getting to be a tougher fit."
Not a tough fit in the sense Uribe would be a disrupt the clubhouse.
"It was never something that was a distraction," Friedman explained. "He's too good a teammate for that."
Friedman said Alberto Callaspo was a better roster fit, which is probably true for the next few weeks or so, giving the Dodgers a left-handed bat off the bench who could spell time at multiple positions. Uribe was pretty much limited to third base only. Though frankly neither one has been anything close to an impact player this season.
But ultimately this was about clearing an eventual spot for Hector Olivera, who is still at Camelback Ranch in Arizona, getting ready and back in baseball shape before heading to Class-A Rancho Cucamonga. Though some time in June seems likely for Olivera's MLB arrival, Friedman said there is no real timetable just yet.
"He has the potential to be a middle-of-the-order bat. We're viewing him through the lens of what's right for Hector right now," Friedman said. "We're going to let his timeline dictate itself."
So for now, the Dodgers wait it out with Callaspo on the bench, and Uribe goes somewhere he will play more often, even with Chris Johnson back for the Braves.
Juan Uribe: "I would’ve felt bad if they traded me to a soccer, basketball or football team. But it’s another baseball team, so I’m happy."— Pedro Moura (@pedromoura) May 27, 2015
"There was a lot of dialogue back and forth between me, Donnie and Juan," Friedman said. "We were involved in honest communication, and we knew exactly where Juan stood. It was all handled very professionally."