Guerrier feels more comfortable in second Dodgers season

April 12, 2012

Dodgers reliever Matt Guerrier is fully healthy after missing some time during spring training with back stiffness, and he's also more relaxed in his second season in Los Angeles.

It's evident in his early-season work.

Guerrier has pitched in three games so far, and he's retired nine of the 10 batters he's faced.   The 33-year-old veteran signed a three-year, $12 million contract with the Dodgers in December 2010, and he had an inconsistent 2011 season. Guerrier went 4-3 with one save and a 4.07 ERA in 70 appearances.

"I think last year was an adjustment year for him," manager Don Mattingly said. "It's one of the things I talked to him about right away in spring training, to not try and come over here and show us what he can do. He's already proven he can pitch in the big leagues and established himself."  
Guerrier spent the first seven years of his big-league career with the Twins, proving to be one of the more durable relievers in the game. He is the only man in baseball to have pitched at least 70 games in each of the last five seasons.

"If I'm your new teammate, I want to prove to you I can play," Mattingly said. "I think last year he basically was trying to show everyone he could play. At the end of the year, he said he never felt like himself all year."

Guerrier's role on the Dodgers is ideally to pitch the seventh inning, something he did in Wednesday's 4-1 win over the Pirates, retiring all three batters he faced in what was still a one-run game.

Perhaps a healthy and more at ease Guerrier will serve as a stable bridge to Kenley Jansen and Javy Guerra at the end of games for the Dodgers. The team is counting on it.

Dodgers Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully missed his second consecutive game Wednesday with a bad cold, and he will miss a third straight game Thursday as he rests and recovers at home. Tuesday was just the second home opener Scully has missed in 63 seasons broadcasting the Dodgers...RHP Chad Billingsley has won each of his first two starts, striking out 15 and walking two in 14 1/3 innings. He allowed one run on five hits in six innings Wednesday against Pittsburgh, improving to 6-1 in 11 career starts against the Pirates."Some of the things that Rick (Honeycutt, pitching coach) talked about last year, him working on through the winter, it looks like it's paying off," Mattingly said...RHP Kenley Jansen has retired 12 of the last 13 batters he's faced after working on correcting a mechanical flaw in his delivery while the Dodgers were in San Diego. The work with pitching coach Rick Honeycutt and bullpen coach Ken Howell has paid off, as Jansen struck out three in a scoreless inning Wednesday. "Ever since Rick got in the film room on him, and he and Kenny went to work, he's been pretty solid," Mattingly said. "He looked a lot like he did in San Diego, really attacking the strike zone...LHP Clayton Kershaw was presented with his 2011 National League Cy Young Award on Wednesday at Dodger Stadium before the game against the Pirates. Mattingly said he keeps his own 1985 American League Most Valuable Player Award in a storage locker, and he joked, "I just hope the auto-payment keeps getting made so I don't see it on Storage Wars one day." With wins in the first two games of the series, the Dodgers continued their mastery of the Pirates. The Dodgers have not lost a season series against Pittsburgh since 2000. Since the beginning of the 2001 campaign, the Dodgers are 59-23 against the Pirates, including 31-10 at Dodger Stadium...Tuesday's win over the Pirates improved the Dodgers' record in one-run games to 2-0 this season. Los Angeles went 23-21 in one-run games in 2011. "I would like to score a few more runs, but it seems like this is our formula," Mattingly said. "We're going to play a lot of close games. It's going to be, who's going to get that big hit or make the big pitch to get the outs we need."