Kristopher Negron’s tenure with the Dodgers might be only two weeks old, but it’s already a contender for the best stretch of his journeyman career.
“When you’re feeling good in the box,” he said, smiling, “things are always more fun.”
Negron wasn’t supposed to be much of a factor with the Dodgers. A seventh-round draft pick in 2006, the 33-year-old utility man never has played 50 big league games in a season. When the Dodgers acquired him in a July 28 trade with Seattle, he had a career .215 batting average, seven home runs and a sub-.300 on-base percentage.
But since arriving in Los Angeles, he’s provided unexpected production — a .391 average and 1.069 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 23 at-bats — for a team battling injuries.
“He’s been very consistent with his at-bat quality,” manager Dave Roberts said.
Negron homered in his first at-bat with the club July 30, then went deep again a night later. He collected a hit in each of his first seven starts — a career-best hitting streak — and drove in six runs. Against Arizona left-hander Robbie Ray on Friday, Negron batted fifth, right behind MVP candidate Cody Bellinger. Defensively, he’s played six positions.
“I didn’t realize he could play essentially every position on the field,” Roberts said. “I didn’t know there was the strength in the batter’s box, the ability to slug. I think the speed, the ability to catch the baseball, he does a lot of things — like a lot of our guys do — every single night to help you win a baseball game.”
This isn’t Negron’s first postseason race. He was a September call-up for the 2017 Diamondbacks and made the roster for their wild-card win over Colorado and NLDS sweep at the hands of the Dodgers. But he struggled at the plate, going four for 25. He didn’t get any at-bats in the postseason.
He’s been a different weapon with the Dodgers, though. With Alex Verdugo, Enrique Hernandez, Chris Taylor and David Freese on the injured list, Negron has maximized his opportunity.
“Coming here, putting on that Dodger blue, the expectations that come with that — it’s been a lot of fun,” he said. “Confidence is high.”
Gyorko progressing during rehab stint
The Dodgers’ other late July trade acquisition, Jedd Gyorko, is progressing in his assignment to rehab back, wrist and calf injuries. The third baseman, who has been out since June 7 and was on St. Louis’ 60-day injured list when he was dealt to the Dodgers before the July 31 trade deadline, played twice with double-A Tulsa this week before going two for five with a double in a start with triple-A Oklahoma City on Wednesday.
Gyorko, 30, could be available to make his Dodgers debut as soon as next week, according to Roberts.
“The main thing is he’s taking at-bats,” Roberts said. “It’s been quite some time since he’s really played consistently.”
Minor trade Dodgers trade for minor league catcher
The Dodgers bolstered their depth by acquiring minor league catcher José Lobáton, 34, from Seattle for cash. Lobaton, who was acquired after the Dodgers’ top catching prospect, Keibert Ruiz, sustained a season-ending broken finger this week, was assigned to triple-A Oklahoma City. Lobaton has a .215 average across nine seasons. He was on a minor league contract with the Mariners, and therefore eligible to be dealt after the trade deadline.