For the last couple of years the Dodgers have been known for filling their final roster spots with MLB veterans to come off the bench. When these signings are made, they usually get put on the backburner by fans, but by the end of year become fan-favorites. It’s hard to become a bench guy after being an everyday player for most of their careers. However, these guys have accepted their role to be able to wear Dodger Blue.
This year’s bench guy for the Dodgers hasn’t just accepted his role; he has stepped up and delivered in every way possible.
At 35-years-old Jerry Hairston Jr. has been the 2012 version of Jamey Carroll, which means a whole lot to this ball club. Hairston is in his 16th year in the MLB, with the Dodgers being the ninth team he has played on. This guy has baseball in his blood, considering his Grandfather, Father, Uncle, and Brother have all played in the big leagues.
In 2009, Hairston won a World Series with the New York Yankees, in the same role he now has with the Dodgers. When you can play basically anywhere on the field besides catcher like Hairston, opportunities will present themselves more than often.
That role with the Dodgers is to pinch hit, be a defensive replacement, clubhouse guy, and give the everyday players some time off after a long week. Well after a month into the season Hairston has done more than just those things.
In a series against the Milwaukee Brewers early in April, most people would say he won the third and final game of the series. He was filling in for the injured Juan Uribe at the time, when in the bottom of the eighth inning he made a sensational diving play at third base to save the go-ahead run.
Honestly, through the first month of this season I’ve seen him make plays that Uribe couldn’t dream of making. That’s not all this guy has done; against the Rockies on Wednesday starting in place of Uribe again, he took advantage of the opportunity at the plate this time! Although the Dodgers lost the game, down 2-1 in the top of the eight-inning, Hairston delivered a two RBI double to give the Dodgers a 3-2 lead. This play by Hairston has already created the question: Should he start at third base for the Dodgers?
I personally think he is in the perfect role and the Dodgers shouldn’t mess with it. He has played in 16 of the 25 games this year, so Mattingly is finding ways to get him into games. Through those 16 games, Hairston has had 45 at-bats resulting in 13 hits and a .289 batting average.
The Dodgers have plenty of options with Hairston in this role, if anyone on the field gets hurt besides A.J. Ellis, he can fill that void! Last year when Rafael Furcal went down with an injury, it was Jamey Carroll who filled in at shortstop. Carroll ended up playing the majority of the season, with 452 at bats and finished with a .290 batting average. So the Dodgers have their 2012 bench guy in Jerry Hairston Jr., a guy who can fill in anywhere and get the job done!