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Kristopher Negron ‘became more of myself’ after trade to Dodgers

August 10, 2019 4:02 AM — Posted by anaheimsigns — Posted at Sign Company ,Sign Shop

LOS ANGELES – Dave Roberts penciled Kristopher Negron into the number-5 slot in his lineup Friday against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Negron is a speedy utility player, not usually the type found in the middle of a batting order, but circumstances are on his side.

Negron began the day with a nine hits in 23 at-bats since joining the Dodgers, a .391 average. He was seeing an average of 4 ½ pitches per plate appearance, among the best on the team. Negron was hitting just .217 when he was acquired from the Seattle Mariners on July 28.

Negron’s pace is almost certainly unsustainable. Still, Roberts likes what he’s seen from the 33-year-old veteran.

“I think we’ve done a very good job of, there’s no real stereotype of where you need to put a guy” in the batting order, Roberts said. “Every day is different. Robby (Ray, the Diamondbacks’ starter Friday), the slider down below is a tough pitch to lay off. He still has a good chance to conduct an at-bat.”

Ray’s best pitch is his slider and Negron has proven adept at hitting sliders. Ray throws with his left hand and Negron bats right-handed. Both were valid reasons behind Negron hitting fifth for just the second time in a career that began in 2012.

The change of scenery helped, too. The Dodgers are on pace for 106 wins, the Mariners 67. The expectations are different. Negron said he has more information at his disposal now, too.

“Seattle’s kind of up and coming on the analytical side of stuff,” he said. “I was only there for just the year and September (of last year). As soon as I got traded over here, they’re just on top of everything. All the little things, all the analytical stuff, just feeding me information – I’m picking and choosing stuff that gets thrown at me. They’re definitely ahead of the curve here in L.A.”

It’s a familiar sentiment among recently-acquired Dodgers, ever since Andrew Friedman was named the team’s president of baseball operations. Negron said the changes he’s incorporating in his approach are subtle, out of proportion with the change in his stats.

Negron’s experience stands in contrast to that of another new Dodger. First baseman Tyler White was acquired three days earlier than Negron in a trade with the Houston Astros, who are renowned for taking an analytical approach to coaching and player development. Providing each hitter with as much data as he can handle was nothing new to White.

“There’s a lot of similarities to the (Astros’) approach to the game,” he said.

White has not seen his fortunes improve dramatically since the trade. He had one hit in his first 14 at-bats since the trade through Thursday. White was hitting .225 when he was designated for assignment by the Astros.

As veteran infielder Jedd Gyorko nears the end of his rehab with Triple-A Oklahoma City, White’s window to make an impression at the major league could be closing. Gyorko is expected to join the Dodgers as early as next week, Roberts said.

Negron has done his part to earn a longer look.

“Since Day 1 I felt infinitely more confident, coming into this clubhouse and seeing the confidence they bring on the field every day,” he said. “I just kind of became more of myself as well.”

INJURY UPDATES

Ross Stripling (neck) has not resumed throwing since his scheduled minor league rehabilitation assignment with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga was postponed. His last six appearances with the Dodgers came as a starter, but Roberts said Stripling might shift to the bullpen upon his return.

“That option is probably the most logical,” Roberts said.

Time isn’t on Stripling’s side. Forty-four games remain in the Dodgers’ season. Their 5-man starting rotation will be full once Hyun-Jin Ryu will be activated from the injured list Sunday. Even before he was placed on the injured list July 25, Stripling was more likely to pitch out of the bullpen than the rotation in October.

Roberts said Stripling has yet to resume a throwing program.

MINOR TRADE

The Dodgers acquired catcher Jose Lobaton from the Mariners for cash and assigned him to Triple-A Oklahoma City. The trade was permissible after the July 31 deadline because Lobaton was on a minor league contract.

Lobaton had a .236 batting average, 13 home runs and 38 RBIs in 75 games this season with the Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate.

Keibert Ruiz, the Dodgers’ 20-year-old catching prospect, suffered a fractured pinky finger Saturday when he was struck on the hand by a pitch. Lobaton will back up Austin Barnes, who had been the everyday catcher at Oklahoma City in Ruiz’s absence.

Negron, who played with Lobaton in the Mariners’ system, described the 34-year-old as an “awesome clubhouse guy” who “really keeps things loose.”

“Great leader. Really cares about his craft and what he works on, cares about the pitching staff. I know he worked a lot with the guys down in Tacoma. He worked with the pitching coach as well as the whole staff, bullpen, everybody. Just a great person, great teammate, great guy. Playing with him this past season, he’s just a genuinely great person.”

UP NEXT

Dodgers (RHP Kenta Maeda) vs. Diamondbacks (LHP Alex Young), 6 p.m., SportsNet LA (where available), 570-AM

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