Rivera productive for Dodgers

BY foxsports • April 13, 2012

Dodgers outfielder Juan Rivera doesn't do much talking, nor has a been a flashy player throughout his 11 seasons in the major leagues. However, Rivera has been a valuable addition to the Dodgers ever since his arrival at the All-Star break in 2011.

Rivera was designated for assignment by Toronto after he hit just .243/.305/.360 with the Blue Jays in 70 games last season. The Dodgers picked him up off the scrap heap with Toronto paying all but a portion of the major league minimum salary.

Rivera batted .274 with just five home runs as a Dodger, but he also drove in 46 runs in 62 games and provided a much needed presence in the middle of the batting order. Dodgers left fielders combined to hit just .231/.305/.313 with two home runs in 92 games before the All-Star break.

"He's never been a huge home run guy. He's always been, for me, a close-to-.300 guy who drove in runs," manager Don Mattingly said. "What he's doing for us is what I've always pictured him as being. I've never looked at him as a home run hitter, a guy who will hit 30."

Rivera has hit 20 home runs twice in his career, topping out at 25 in 2009 while with the Angels. Rivera was happy last season to come back to Southern California.

"When I got to Los Angeles, I felt good. That's why I wanted to come back here again," Rivera said during spring training. "I know the city, and I know the stadium, too. It's good for hitting."

While the home run totals for Rivera might not be very high, the Dodgers still expect production from the man who will hit either fourth (against left-handed pitchers) or fifth (against right-handers) on most days.

"You drive in a lot of runs with singles," Mattingly said. "Juan doesn't change with a guy on second base; he just hits the same way. He's looking for a pitch or location. He just stays with it and hits the ball hard."

Rivera drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the first inning Thursday night in the Dodgers' 3-2 win over Pittsburgh. It was his 50th RBI in 69 games as a Dodger.

RHP Javy Guerra has retired 14 of the first 16 batters he has faced this year, and he's successfully converted all five save opportunities. He threw a perfect ninth inning Thursday to close out the Dodgers' 3-2 win over the Pirates. "Javy's been solid, he's been sharp, he's attacked the strike zone. We like this guy's stuff. He's tough to pick up. He's got a lot of weapons," Mattingly said...1B James Loney snapped an 0-for-16 skid with an RBI single in the first inning Thursday against the Pirates. "It was a big hit, to get him off that zero mark," Mattingly said...CF Matt Kemp has a big-league-leading five multi-hit games, including a two-hit night Thursday against the Pirates. On the season, Kemp is hitting .414 with two home runs through seven games...Dodgers pitchers struck out 27 batters and walked only two during their three-game sweep of the Pirates...Los Angeles swept Pittsburgh at Dodger Stadium for the first time since Sept. 14-16, 2009. The Dodgers have won six straight home games against the Pirates and 14 of their last 16 contests against them at Dodger Stadium...After a sellout crowd of 56,000 came to the home opener, attendance at Dodger Stadium dropped to just 29,729 on Wednesday night and 28,328 on Thursday night. "I don't really know what to expect out of that. I don't know if it's because of kids in school, weeknights. We just control what we do. In any city, when you win, you draw. It's up to us to play good baseball. Guys like playing in front of people. The more juice in the stands, the better it is for guys, " Mattingly said...The 6-1 start is the Dodgers' best since they started the 1981 season with the same mark. The Dodgers won the World Series in '81...The Dodgers have 60 wins in their last 83 games against Pittsburgh, dating back to 2001.

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