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Dodgers’ Enrique Hernandez admits frustration over bad luck led to slump

Enrique Hernandez
Dodgers second baseman Enrique Hernandez breaks his bat as he grounds into a double play during a game against the Washington Nationals on May 11. Hernandez has been struggling at the plate.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Enrique Hernandez’s 2019 season began with an encouraging start. He mashed enough in spring training to be named the Dodgers’ everyday second baseman, getting rid of the utility tag for the first time in his major league career, and carried the blistering bat over to the regular season.

He homered twice on opening day and had six home runs by the end of April. He recorded two hits May 1, running his on-base-plus-slugging percentage up to .863. He hasn’t posted a multi-hit game since. Entering Friday’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Hernandez was batting .140 with a .399 OPS, one home run, 18 strikeouts and four walks in 63 plate appearances since May 2.

Hernandez, 27, explained frustration was the source of his struggles. He was hitting the ball hard late last month but wasn’t getting good results. As a result, he began swinging at pitches outside the strike zone and his production plunged.

“It just seemed like I couldn’t catch a break and before we knew it, it was bad,” said Hernandez, who batted seventh Friday and went 0 for 4 with a walk and a strikeout. Overall, he’s batting .216 with an OPS of .684

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The frustration, Hernandez said, threw his mechanics out of whack and affected his pitch recognition, which increased his swings on pitches out of the strike zone. He’s working to make the proper adjustments. For manager Dave Roberts, getting Hernandez back to his April production starts with not letting frustration — and pressure — accumulate.

“It’s trying too hard,” Roberts said. “I think it’s something where you have an opportunity you haven’t had in your entire career, you want to hold onto it and that leads to trying too hard. I would say that more than being overexposed. I’ve seen him pitched differently over the last few years and I’ve seen him make adjustments. I know he’s going to come out of it and I know he can handle it.”

LA Dodgers at Cincinnati
Enrique Hernandez throws out a runner from his knees after diving for the ball during a game against the Cincinnati Reds on May 17.
(Joe Robbins / TNS)

Kelly placed on bereavement list

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The Dodgers placed right-hander Joe Kelly on the bereavement list Friday and recalled outfielder Kyle Garlick from triple-A Oklahoma City to take his spot on the roster.

A player must spend at least three games on the bereavement list and not more than seven. Roberts said Kelly will rejoin the team Monday in Los Angeles for the Dodgers’ series opener against the New York Mets.

It is the second major league call-up for Garlick, who made his debut Sunday with a pinch-hit appearance. Garlick, 27, is batting .280 with 10 home runs and a 1.002 OPS in 35 games for Oklahoma City.

Short hops

Roberts said Pedro Baez was “probably” unavailable Friday, three days after taking a line drive off his right knee, but he should be available to pitch Saturday.

Baez was scheduled to throw off a mound for the first time since Tuesday before Friday’s game at PNC Park.

Roberts said an injury wasn’t why he took out third baseman Justin Turner in the seventh inning Friday. He said he wanted to give Turner some rest and he won’t be in Saturday’s starting lineup. “His body is sort of taking a little beating, so to get him off his feet was a good thing,” Roberts said.

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jorge.castillo@latimes.com

Twitter: @jorgecastillo


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