Mattingly building Guerra back up

After blowing a save on May 6 at Wrigley Field against the Cubs, pitcher Javy Guerra was demoted from the closer role. Guerra now pitches in middle relief, a role that is quite different for him.

“It’s different, but I like it. From the fourth inning on, I’m pretty in tune with the game and know what’s going on. I’m trying to figure out the situation and just be ready,” Guerra said. “I had that routine of the sixth, seventh getting ready to go, the eighth watching, and ninth throwing. Now, from the first inning I’m stretching and moving around and getting going.”

Guerra’s blown save on May 6 was his third in a 14-game span and saw his ERA rise to 5.84. Since the demotion, Guerra has pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings to lower that ERA to 4.32.

“What we’re trying to do is get his confidence built back up,” said manager Don Mattingly. “When we first started this process, we tried to get him in a game where the game wasn’t totally on the line every time he had his hands on the ball.”

Guerra has been used in increasingly challenging situations — including with the bases loaded in two straight games, on Tuesday against Arizona and Wednesday against San Diego. In each game, Guerra allowed just one of three inherited runners to score.

“In his last two outings, I’ve put him in bad spots. I’ve put him in bases-loaded jams,” Mattingly said. “If you can get out of that with one (run scoring) twice, that’s pretty good.”

Guerra has handled his demotion well and embraced his new role.

“I just look forward to coming in every game in any situation.,” Guerra said. “It does feel good to go in there and have people on, with a situation to get out of. It’s pretty rewarding.”

Guerra has impressed his manager with how he has handled it.

“He’s an important guy for us,” Mattingly said. “We’re going to need Javy to do his thing, and to me he’s on that path.”

NOTES, QUOTES
Kemp preparing for May 29 return
   –CF Matt Kemp began stretching drills on Thursday, two days after receiving an injection of platelet-rich plasma to help heal his strained left hamstring. Kemp also participated in throwing drills, but he has not yet hit. Kemp is expected to return from the disabled list on May 29, the first day he is eligible.
   –SS Dee Gordon, in a 12-for-65 (.185) slump, returned to the starting lineup on Thursday after sitting Wednesday against left-hander Clayton Richard. Gordon went 0-for-3 with a walk, a run scored and a sacrifice fly in the Dodgers’ 8-1 win over the Padres.
   –RHP Aaron Harang pitched seven scoreless innings Thursday night against the Padres for his second straight win. Harang has allowed one run in 15 innings over his last two starts. “We’ve been working a lot mechanically and trying to get fine-tuned,” Harang said. “I feel like the last few starts have really shown the work that we have been doing.”
   Harang also had an RBI single, an infield hit up the third-base line, in the seventh inning to snap an 0-for-42 skid at the plate, dating back to last season.
   –2B Adam Kennedy batted fifth Thursday, the third person in four games to bat fifth for the Dodgers, who have three starters on the disabled list. Kennedy went 1-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored in the Dodgers’ 8-1 win over the Padres.
   –C A.J. Ellis went 2-for-4 with a walk on Thursday and has reached base via hit or walk in a career-high 26 consecutive games. His .462 on-base percentage ranks third in the National League.
   BY THE NUMBERS: 8 — Runs scored by the Dodgers in a win over the Padres on Thursday night, two more than they scored in their previous three games, all without Matt Kemp.
   QUOTE TO NOTE: “He’s an important guy for us. We’re going to need Javy to do his thing, and to me he’s on that path.” — Manager Don Mattingly, on RHP Javy Guerra, who has pitched five straight scoreless outings since his demotion from the closer role.

ROSTER REPORT
   MEDICAL WATCH:
   –3B Juan Uribe (sprained left wrist) went on the 15-day disabled list May 14. He will see a specialist during the weekend of May 18-20.
   –CF Matt Kemp (strained left hamstring) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 14. He received a platelet-rich plasma injection May 15 and began stretching and throwing drills May 17. He is expected to return from the disabled list on May 29, the first day he is eligible.
   –INF/OF Jerry Hairston Jr. (strained left hamstring) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 7. He is likely to play one or two games on a rehab assignment before rejoining the Dodgers in late May.
   –OF/1B Juan Rivera (ruptured left hamstring) went on the 15-day disabled list May 9. He is expected to be out until at least late June.
   –RHP Matt Guerrier (right elbow tendinitis) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 19. He threw a bullpen session May 16.
   –RHP Blake Hawksworth (arthroscopic right elbow surgeries in January 2012 and February 2012) went on the 60-day disabled list March 27.
   –RHP Rubby De La Rosa (Tommy John surgery in August 2011) went on the 60-day disabled list March 26.