The Los Angeles Dodgers clubhouse was sleepy and mostly empty when Juan Uribe bounded in early Sunday, wearing a smile above a ridiculously bright red outfit.
It was an ensemble chosen more for satirical than sartorial reasons and it quickly had the desired effect, drawing laughter that stirred the players from mid-morning lethargy as Uribe sauntered toward his spacious locker at the far corner of the room.
“He keeps the clubhouse loose,” said closer Kenley Jansen, whose locker is near Uribe’s. “He has a lot of fun and that’s what we need sometimes.”
Uribe, regardless of whether he is in the lineup – he’s on the disabled list because of a hamstring injury – seems to know exactly what his teammates need. Last season, when an arrogant and flamboyant Yasiel Puig was being roundly criticized by opponents and the media, it was Uribe who publicly rushed to his defense while privately urging him to cool it.
This spring, in a meeting called by manager Don Mattingly, Uribe spoke up again, calling Puig out in front of the team for his reckless play, dousing what was becoming a major distraction in the clubhouse.
Said Mattingly: “There are guys that, just because they’re hurt, doesn’t mean they’re invisible. He is a leader and it doesn’t change because he’s on the DL. … And Juan, he’s funny in the clubhouse. He’s loose. But he knows when to get down to business.”
This is not the first time Uribe has led while not in the lineup. He sat out 34 games earlier this season because of a hamstring injury, and various injuries limited him to 143 games and a .199 batting average in his first two seasons with the Dodgers. But he remained a vocal and comedic presence, which played a role in the team’s decision to sign the 35-year-old third baseman to a two-year, $15 million free-agent contract in December.
Uribe has rewarded the club’s decision, batting .293, his highest average since his rookie season with Colorado in 2001, and playing Gold Glove-quality defense before his latest injury.
Clearing the bases
Mets starter Bartolo Colon will be placed on the bereavement list today after he left the team to be with his ailing mother in the Dominican Republic. Reliever Gonzalez Germen will take his spot in the rotation. … Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen expects to come off the disabled list when he is eligible to return today. … The Red Sox optioned center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. to Triple-A and recalled outfielder/infielder Mookie Betts.
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