Enrique Hernandez keeps paying dividends for Dodgers

Enrique Hernandez keeps paying dividends for Dodgers
Dodgers' Enrique Hernandez drops his bat after hitting a three-run home run in the second inning Saturday night against Cincinnati. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

When the Dodgers acquired Enrique Hernandez over the off-season, Manager Don Mattingly was told Hernandez could be particularly valuable because of the different positions he plays.

Only now, Mattingly is wondering whether the scouting reports about Hernandez's versatility are doing the 23-year-old a disservice.

Starting at second base Saturday night in the Dodgers' 8-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds, Hernandez hit a go-ahead, three-run home run in the second inning.

The home run was one of four for the Dodgers, who maintained their 21/2-game lead over the second-place San Francisco Giants in the National League West.

"You talk so much about all the things he can do, you automatically throw him into that utility guy role," Mattingly said. "Maybe that's a little unfair."

Hernandez, who is batting .301 with six home runs, made his feelings clear about his utility-player label.

"I don't like it," he said. "I'm only 23 and I believe I have a really long career ahead of me and I really believe I can play every day," he said.

However, he said that "being a utility guy is what got to me to the big leagues. That's why I'm here."

Acquired in a multiplayer trade with the Miami Marlins, Hernandez has played five positions for the Dodgers, including shortstop and center field.

His role has expanded in the last week because second baseman Howie Kendrick is on the disabled list because of a strained left hamstring. Hernandez has started six consecutive games, including four at second base.

Hernandez had three-hit games Thursday and Friday and is batting .386 since the All-Star break.

"The fact that I'm getting consistent at-bats, obviously, it's going to be easier for me to produce," he said.

He knows he could soon be back in his previous role.

"I've been doing it for two weeks now," Hernandez said. "Howie's been doing it for a long time, so, obviously, when Howie comes back, he's going to play every day."

Until then, Hernandez will try to continue to do what he did Saturday night, when he was part of an early-inning attack that also included home runs by Yasiel Puig, Justin Turner and Adrian Gonzalez.

Three of the home runs were against rookie left-hander David Holmberg, who gave up seven runs and five hits in two-plus innings.

Gonzalez hit his team-leading 24th home run in the fourth inning against Pedro Villarreal to extend the Dodgers' advantage to 8-3.

The eight runs were more than enough for left-hander Brett Anderson (7-7), who recovered from his worst start of the season by limiting the Reds to three runs and six hits over six innings.

Five days earlier, Anderson gave up a season-high seven runs in a loss to the Washington Nationals.

Anderson looked shaky in the early innings against the Reds, giving up a two-out single in the first inning to Joey Votto that was followed by a two-run home run by Todd Frazier.

Votto was involved in the other run the Reds scored against Anderson, driving in Brandon Phillips with a double in the third inning.

Yimi Garcia pitched two innings in relief of Anderson. Promoted from triple-A Oklahoma City at the start of this homestand, Garcia pitched three times this week and didn't give up a run over five innings.

Chris Hatcher, who was activated from the 60-day disabled list Friday, pitched a perfect ninth inning.

Up next

Dodgers right-hander Zack Greinke (12-2, 1.59 ERA) will face right-hander Anthony DeSclafani (7-7, 3.75) and the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Dodger Stadium. TV: SportsNet LA; Radio: 570, 1020.