With the Los Angeles Dodgers plagued by injuries to the left side of their infield, Erisbel Arruebarrena has been called up from Double-A to fill in. Arruebarrena, another Cuban émigré signed by the Dodgers in the offseason, did not spend any time in the big league camp during Spring Training, primarily due to the fact that he arrived late after dealing with visa issues. With Juan Uribe out on the 15-day DL and Hanley Ramirez hampered by a sore calf, Arruebarrena has seen significant playing time over the last three games, starting at shortstop in each one.
When Arruebarrena was signed by the Dodgers, he was billed as a defensive whiz with little competency with the bat. At Double-A, Arruebarrena lived up to this reputation by slashing .208/.252/.302 in 96 at-bats. While this is certainly troublesome, the shortstop has not looked as lost at the plate as one would imagine a Double-A player with that batting line would.
Of course, it has only been three games, but Arruebarrena has earned three hits in his 10 at-bats with the Dodgers, all of which were singles. He has also drawn a walk and struck out three times, but uneven results should certainly be expected from a player just called up from Double-A. The offense is questionable, but if Arruebarrena is able to provide even modest production at the plate, he will be a very valuable component of the club going forward.
The glove is where Arruebarrena, as expected, has shined.
Arruebarrena has had only seven total chances in the field for the Dodgers so far, but he has looked incredibly smooth and comfortable at the shortstop position. Plays that should have been difficult outs were made easily, and his defensive acumen is particularly impressive when compared to that of Ramirez. He has shown solid range and a strong arm, along with an ability to throw accurately while off-balance and on the run. While it should be obvious that Ramirez is in the lineup for his offensive output, the presence of Arruebarrena has really underscored the defensive shortcomings of the incumbent shortstop.
This is not to say that Arruebarrena is the superior player to Ramirez. Clearly, Ramirez and his offense more than compensate for his defense, and any team would be thrilled to plug in Ramirez on the left side of their infield. Arruebarrena’s skill set is merely different than that of Ramirez, and it has been fun to watch him roam the infield over these past three games.
Arruebarrena’s bat will have to improve tremendously in order for him to become an everyday contributor for the Dodgers, but the team should be greatly encouraged by his current stint with the team.
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