All this talk about the Dodgers’ four outfielders. What about the fifth? He has feelings too.
Also a pretty decent power bat, or so the Dodgers hope.
It is outfielder Scott Van Slyke who leads the Dodgers in runs batted in this spring. Not Andre Ethier. Not the struggling Yasiel Puig and Carl Crawford. Not Matt Kemp, still recovering from surgery and yet to play.
Van Slyke hit his second home run of the spring – tying him with Juan Uribe for the club lead – on Tuesday, a two-run shot at Surprise Stadium in the Dodgers’ 7-5 victory over the Kansas City Royals.
He’s hitting only .208 this spring, but he’s making the hits count. He’s driven in seven runs.
And he continues to develop the kind of versatility the Dodgers demand from their bench. On Tuesday Van Slyke started in center. He can also play the corners and first base.
Which makes him an excellent bench piece, if he can hit. If he can hit with power, all the better. Last year he had six home runs in his first 55 at-bats. He finished the season with a .240 batting average, seven homers, 19 RBIs, a .465 slugging percentage and a .342 on-base percentage in 152 plate appearances.
Maybe not earth-shattering numbers, but not bad for someone the Dodgers had gotten through waivers in the off-season.
The Dodgers won the game in the ninth when Noel Cuevas, a 22-year-old outfielder from Puerto Rico who spent last season at Class-A Rancho Cucamonga, hit a three-run homer off Kansas City right-hander Louis Coleman.
Right-hander Dan Haren started for the Dodgers, allowing one run, seven hits and a walk in four innings. Javy Guerra gave up his first runs of the spring (one earned), two hits and a walk.